Friday, December 31, 1999

There is fighting in the Spice Islands in Indonesia. I’m not sure, since there hasn’t been much reportage on it, but I think it’s because they just found out that just because they’re the Spice Islands doesn’t mean they get the Spice Girls.

There was a secret plan to build Belfast’s millennium beacon out of decommissioned terrorist weapons. Unfortunately, no one turned any in.

I just ran another check on my computer and found that while it recognizes the year 2000, it does not recognize 2100, when I still plan to be using the computer, if only to piss Kevin off.

A goodbye to the oldest person in the world, who died just before the millennium minus one, at 119. And to anybody else who happens to be raptured.

And a big hello to President Putin, which is Russian for Gerald Ford.

Thursday, December 30, 1999

Shouldn’t it be the bi-millennium? Anyway, for those not of the Christian faith, which as far as I know is all of us, the millennium, according to South Park, is the day every thousand years when Jesus comes out and if he sees his own shadow, we will have a thousand years of peace and contentment.

Jesus will appear on the Mount of Olives, and you can watch it on web-cam. Well, you can if your web-server isn’t an incredible wimp like mine, which is shutting down for a day just to be safe.

With increasing mutterings about whether the Russian apartment building bombings were just a Reichstag/Tonkin Gulf-type incident, the Russians miraculously arrested some of the culprits yesterday. Very believable.

So on Monday Turkmenistan abolishes the death penalty, and on Tuesday it names Niyazov president-for-life. I’m sure this amounts to some sort of collective statement about life imprisonment, but whatever.

Guatemala elects a president who is a confessed multiple murderer and, worse, a crony slash puppet of Efrian Rios Montt of evil memory. And it wasn’t even close. In Peru, Fujimori is also giving that president for life thing a go. And in Venezuela, the first thing former failed-coup leader and now elected-president Hugo Chavez does when there’s a national disaster is start wearing military fatigues. At least in the good old days immortalized by the movie Bananas, when these assholes seized power through coups rather than elections, you could kid yourself that the locals would probably prefer to live in a democracy.

A perhaps unfortunate headline in the Washington Post: “Tipper Gore Has Lump Removed.” But he’s still running for president, right?

Saturday, December 25, 1999

NY Times headline: Scientists Place Jellyfish Genes into Monkeys. It’s good to have a hobby. And their hobby is Tampering in God’s Domain.

Britain discovered it first, because of their tradition of the Queen sending telegrams to people on their 100th birthday: the YXCX Bug. Computers made Y2K compliant no longer recognize the year 1900, which they now think is 2000. That sound you’ll be hearing a week from today is every computer in the world singing “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do...” in chorus.

Wednesday, December 22, 1999

A news update from my vacation period.

Texas removed a death row inmate from intensive care two days after he attempted suicide in order to execute him. Dubya’s 113th execution, I believe.

A Zimbabwe couple have a bet as to which of them is infertile. A judge allows the wife until Feb. 22 to have affairs without risking divorce in order to win the bet, which is I believe for $200.

Forbes accused Dubya of being weak on abortion because a stretch of Texas highway is named after a doctor who performed abortions (and whose son is in the state legislature).

A second and third Nigerian state adopt sharia law.

The US wished Panama a merry isthmus (I know, I know).

I said it in one of these very e-mails: Kenneth Starr’s office did not have the authority to waive Maryland law. Tripp and Starr’s people get into a he-said-she-said in court over the alleged promise of immunity, raising the question of why it wasn’t on tape. The members of the Starr Chamber say that what they told her is that they would make it almost impossible for Maryland to convict her, which sounds rather like obstruction. Fortunately for MD, Tripp bragged about taping Monica to her bridge group, and had an Xmas party to which Monica was invited so that all her bridge cronies could look her over.

A robber was caught after holding up someone at an ATM machine. The machine was located in the lobby of the 77th Street police station in LA.

India discovers a prisoner who’s been sitting in a cell since 1963. They postponed his trial due to his mental instability, and forgot to get back to it.

The pope apologizes for the execution of Jan Hus in 1415.

A new law bans crush videos, in which women in high heels crush small animals. Something else you probably read here first, back in 1996 or so.

Two Brits become the first gay couple jointly listed as father on a California birth certificate, with no mother. They hired one woman to bear the in vitro embryo from another woman--reproduction as three-card monte. You can tell they spent too long in Cal. because the kids (twins) are named (shudder) Aspen and Saffron.

Macau goes back to the Chinese, if you consider something that was a Portuguese colony for three plus centuries to belong to China. No one will miss the Portuguese, as ever the worst of all European colonialists. There are a lot of casinos, though, as befits a reservation.

If Barak manages to negotiate a peace deal with Syria, which would evidently cost the US tens of billions of dollars, he will have to use some of that money to bribe the Shas party in order for it to pass the Knesset. Shas’s religious schools have been going bankrupt and have been forced into such expedients as selling videos of a fake exorcism (I hadn’t even known that Jews had exorcisms; I’m picturing Linda Blair spitting up matzo ball soup).

As the Russian elections show, genocide is just good politics.

Monday, December 06, 1999

In one of the great public relations moves of the war, Russia creates a puppet Chechen militia unit under a puppet former mayor of Grozny, who they found, conveniently enough, in a prison serving a term for embezzlement.

Unity in Northern Ireland achieved at last: the first move of the new Stormont Assembly, literally the first, is to vote itself a 30% pay rise.

Emma Thompson has her first child, named, until she can come up with something better,

A church in Little Rock has set up a drive-through Nativity scene. Now normally I’m against drunk driving....

The Daily Telegraph has another of its odd little juxtapositions. One story says that paintballing war games has led to a rise in serious eye injuries. The next says that marijuana improves the vision, that scientists have discovered the ingredient that causes Caribbean fishermen who drink a rum & cannabis concoction to say that they can see in the dark. I think I may just cancel my Thursday opthamologist appointment.

Friday, December 03, 1999

Some of the best political news this year, in case you weren’t paying attention, is the Newt Gingrich divorce. It will give us lots of opportunities to hear about Newtie’s sex life (shudder shudder), but the political part is that his decision to contest it, and allow every sordid detail to be examined publicly, means that his political career is dead forever.

On the other hand, Bob Dornan’s son is thinking about running for Congress.

At the first debate he bothers showing up for, George Dubya says over and over that if Texas were a country it would have the 11th largest economy in the world. He also said that he was the only one of the candidates who had ever signed a tax-cut bill. Great, he signed a bill. He can sign his name on a piece of paper. That qualifies him to run the fries machine at McDonald’s or graduate from USC, but not be president. Still, if word leaked out that there was going to be a test on name-signing at some point in the presidential primaries, it would explain why Quayle dropped out.

Wednesday, December 01, 1999

New Zealand has the world’s first transexual MP.

How nice that at the Seattle conference on world trade, the US got to display one of its best exports--crowd control weaponry.

Bumper sticker seen in Berkeley: The truly educated never graduate. I don’t think I’ll repeat that one to my mother. The bumper sticker was on a beat-up old Peugeot, if you were wondering.

For everyone on your Christmas list: a book called Meditation for Dummies.

The IRA now has control over education in Northern Ireland. Mostly Protestant education, actually, since the Catholics mostly go to private schools. The rumor is that truancy or throwing spitballs will now be punished by kneecapping.

Saturday, November 27, 1999

“Ice Spice” wins the New Zealand election, beating out “Big Spice.”

$50 billion on the Stealth planes, and it can now all be flushed down the toilet, since the Chinese have figured out how to beat it. What the Pentagon planners didn’t think of was the growth in computing power, evidently. The planes may be semi-impervious to radar (as long as they don’t make any sharp turns or open a door to drop a bomb, as I recall) but do make disturbances in ordinary radio and tv waves. These disturbances can be very cheaply monitored, and the pattern figured out through a computer. It’s not only easy, but it’s pretty cheap.

So now that the Iron Curtain is down, a lot of Israeli schools send out parties of students to visit the death camps, which is personally my idea of a waste of a good trip to Europe, but that’s me. The problem is, they’re teenagers. On a field trip. So these kids, from a kibbutz yet, after an afternoon’s entertainment at Treblinka, get back to the hotel and they order up some stippers. This is the latest national scandal in Israel. Incidentally, there were male strippers for the girls and female strippers for the boys, so that famed kibbutzim equality is still going strong.

Friday, November 26, 1999

For any of you now needing to read about a more depressing family than your own: a woman just died in Britain, age 53, who has been in a coma since 1965 following a car crash. Her mother cared for her for 25 years at home.

On tour, the National Philharmonic Orchestra of Russia (est 1879), not selling that many tickets, had to busk on street corners for food in Swansea (Wales).

New Zealand is having an election where the heads of both major parties are women. It has been dubbed the Xena election.

So is Yeltsin playing sick to get out of signing the unification treaty with Belarus? or to escape responsibility for atrocities in Chechnya? Or is he actually sick? Or drunk? Or in withdrawal from the drugs they used to prop him up at that conference in Turkey?

Wednesday, November 24, 1999

The Kuwaiti parliament fails to approve votes for women. Iraq has sold Scud missiles to Congo-Kinshasa. Florida to have “Choose Life” license plates.

Tuesday, November 23, 1999

A letter in the NY Times on the case in Michigan of a kid convicted of a murder committed when he was 11 suggests that if 11-year olds can be tried as adults, they should have a jury of their peers as well.

Sunday, November 21, 1999

Yesterday I mentioned a nicotine vaccination that will never see the light of day. Today I read of a study showing that certain types of female infertility are traceable to teenage girls wearing too-tight clothing. Whoever wrote this study must be tracked down and killed before they spread it any further.

Ambulances in Romania have installed taxi meters. They will charge the same per-mile rates as the local taxis, but are not supposed to collect from the unconscious or DOAs.

The London mayoral race gets even more interesting as Lord Jeffrey Archer quits as Tory candidate (and unfortunately returns to his career as novelist) after it comes out that he suborned perjury in a libel case that netted him 500,000 pounds (and he only paid the prostitute 2,000 to leave the country). The Tories, who like the Bourbons never forget and never learn, have nominated another adulterer (at least 5 times that we know of) to replace him. stops selling Mein Kampf to Germany.

“O Come All Ye Faithful” was evidently meant as a covert coded rallying song for Bonnie Prince Charlie in the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.

Saturday, November 20, 1999

An article in Salon reveals jokes Bush the Elder planned to use against Clinton in the 1992 election to show his ignorance of foreign affairs, being a mere governor and all. Every joke can be used against Shrub, of course.

Someone has invented a vaccine against nicotine. OK, so some scientists will get very rich and this invention will never be heard of again, but its potential is interesting. For existing smokers, it would do nothing to help their nicotine addiction, but would make sure that cigarettes didn’t assuage it. It’s potential is more interesting for children. Vaccinate your 12 year old (it’s an annual vaccine) and make sure he never starts smoking.

Tony Blair’s wife is going to have a baby, the first baby born to a sitting PM in 150 years (that baby being Bertrand Russell’s father). The British media are going wild, including trying to figure out where it was conceived (yesterday they thought Tuscany, today France). It brings up the question, how different would the Clinton presidency have turned out, image-wise, if he had knocked up Hillary in 1993? The last kid born in the White House, a still-born, was born the week of my birth.

An article a couple of day’s ago in the NY Times on Gore’s several-year stint as a newspaper reporter commented that he lost interest in the job after a corrupt city councilman he’d helped set up in a bribery sting was acquitted. According to a friend, “I think it destroyed his feelings about justice”. So Gore went to law school instead.

Friday, November 19, 1999

The future smells like socks / Party like it’s 3111

A name has been put to the author of the Protocols of Zion. Something Russian, you could look it up. The guy had quite an interesting life in the secret societies and secret services of Tsarist Russia, exile and whatnot.

I think this is a follow-up, since I think I remember some time ago mentioning a California woman who got a lottery ticket worth over $1 million, promptly divorced her husband of 25 years without telling him, and got sued by him. The judge just awarded all the money to him.

California will allow homosexual couples to adopt.

This week’s Dave Barry column is about his visit to his son’s dorm room. An enjoyable trip down memory lane, except that it sounds like my apartment. Barry says that it’s ok, because they are not there to do housework, they are there to prepare for the future. Which is going to smell like socks.

Congress accused IRS agents of having a quota system. So it set up an inspector general’s office, which will evidently have more investigations of IRS agents next year than there will be audits. How do we know this? Becuase the inspector general’s office has set up a quota system. Before you laugh too hard at the irony of it all, realize that the Republicans’ castration of the IRS means that it is no longer willing to do almost any audits, and those only of poor people (really), and that many rich people now cheat on their taxes with impunity. By by budget surplus. I guess Forbes will get his flat tax after all, but the old-fashioned way, through individual deceit and government complicity.

Trent Lott killed the new organ donation rules in a flat-out grab by the less-urban states for organs. Unseemly and it will kill people, but changing the system so that the more needy get the organs would also mean killing off the transplant expertise in the smaller states, which wouldn’t be good either. We should look at how the blood supply works to see if that system, which is the free-market version, works. Did you know that, by the way? Blood is siphoned off from donor-rich states like Iowa, by the Red Cross which operates as a rather vicious Microsoft-type monopolist, and sells it to the highest bidder, places like NY City.

This is a very important day, the last day on which all the digits of the date (11/19/1999) are odd numbers, until New Year’s, 3111. Party appropriately (oddly, I guess).

Russia has severely chastised the Czech Republic, whose, I forget, president, foreign minister, whatever, met the foreign minister of the Chechen Republic. Russia says this constitutes interference in its internal affairs. Irony is just lost on the Russians, isn’t it?

In Interview, a Little Help on Chechnya
Friday, November 19, 1999; Page A34
(Washington Post)

Texas Gov. George W. Bush has spent much of this week promoting the foreign policy speech he will deliver today in California, giving numerous interviews to television and print journalists to talk about his worldview.

In a telephone interview with the Associated Press on Tuesday, the Republican presidential front-runner read from a draft of his speech that said he would take action “if the Russian government attacks innocent women and children in Chechnya.”

Asked whether that was now happening, Bush moved the phone away from his mouth and shouted, “They are attacking women and children, aren’t they?”

Answer in hand, he resumed the interview and said, “Condi Rice is shaking her head in agreement.”

Thursday, November 18, 1999

Singapore puts a couple in jail for a year for smoking marijuana--in Australia, while they were on vacation.

The Queen’s Speech was today. You can’t get tired of all that truly silly ceremony. I especially like the bit where the Queen’s rep, Black Rod (that’s a person, not Clarence Thomas’s nickname for his Little Justice) has the door to the Commons slammed in his face and has to knock three times before they let him in. The queen uttered a split infinitive, which is Tony Blair’s fault and a sign of declining standards everywhere. But then, a nurse addressing the General Synod of the Church of England told it that the homeless lead “shitty” lives. Incidentally, I have said nothing up to now about the race for mayor of London, but it’s the most entertaining political story around and will go on for months. Go Red Ken!

Tuesday, November 16, 1999

THE END IS NIGH DEPARTMENT: The new Jane Austen movie has had to have some of the sex scenes cut to give it a PG rating.

Donald Trump has successfully passed his first hurdle on the road to the presidency--learning how to shake hands. In the past he’s always avoided the practice, preferring that people bow to him.

A thing I was reading about types of knowledge that will be useful in the future included a bit by the novelist Julie Burchill, who said “There is a lot of cant from the government about the importance of flexibility and not expecting to have a job for life, but this is yet another way of weakening and disorienting the working class, so that eventually they’ll take any job at any price. You don’t see the likes of Tony and Cherie Blair [substitute the Clintons if you like] ever being flexible; they decided what they wanted at a very early age and went for it. The same is true, I bet, of the little Blairs, all of whom were probably hot-housed from the moment they could walk. Once again it’s one law for the rich and another for the poor.”

Saturday, November 13, 1999

So a guy’s dog is missing. He takes out an ad in the paper. The ad says, “Here, boy.”

The NY Times review of the movie The Messenger says that “Don’t shoot The Messenger” would have been sound advice.

For the last few years, as you all know, the US has been deporting people through the use of courts that are given secret evidence the defendants and their lawyers aren’t allowed to see. Some of the documents from one such trial have been released. Well, first, it sounds like even the judge didn’t get to see all the evidence. Some of it was sourced as from a friendly intelligence service, and the man is Egyptian, so it was probably his own government framing him in order to get their hands on him. But the best part is the gov said that if he was released after being held three years, it would improve his credibility among Arabs.

Friday, November 12, 1999

Read Molly Ivins on the crap loaded onto the minimum wage bill.

Read, well maybe the Friday LA Times will do a better job than the Thursday paper of analyzing the newly-released files of the California state legislature’s version of HUAC. If anyone knows how precisely sex education in Chico schools was supposed to be communist-inspired, do drop me a note. Unless they’re thinking of Chico Marx. Probably not as energetic as sex ed in the Harpo school district, much less the Groucho school district, but there you are.

Congress brilliantly halved the money to employ Russian nuclear scientists, and eliminated the money to destroy Russian chemical weapons. What are those idiots thinking?

The stupidest member of Congress, Helen Chenoweth, evidently plans to retire.

Mayor Benito Giuliani today said that “The use of soft money has been turned into an art form by the Clintons.” And if there’s one thing we know, it’s that Giuliani doesn’t like anything soft being turned into art.

Still nothing in the New York Times or elsewhere about the Nato bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. And speaking of lack of follow-up, I was really expecting the news a few weeks ago that 100,000 rape kits were gathering dust without any tests being performed would have produced some sort of reaction by now. Evidently politicians are not anti-rape anymore. Still speaking of lack of follow-up, the pope went to India last week, and was met by a lot of protests by Hindus complaining about forced conversion. This gave us the amusing spectacle of the pope speaking out for religious freedom, well his religious freedom anyway.

That reminds me, I heckled a Jew for Jesus on campus today. Evidently if you turn to Jesus you get the gift of the holy spirit. That just proves that Jews for Jesus aren’t real Jews. Jews could get it for you wholesale, but would never give it away. Anyway, even though this got more coverage in the British papers than the American ones, for obvious reasons, no one bothered to investigate or even ask what the Hindus might have meant by forced conversion.

Hillary was in Israel today campaigning for the Jewish vote in New York. I haven’t seen the New York Times yet (where the hell is that paper, anyway?) but the Washington Post’s report doesn’t even begin to suggest what a cluster fuck this event was. The London Times article was much clearer. She was stony faced while being lectured by Arafat’s wife, among other Palestinians, about Israeli atrocities. She let herself be escorted around occcupied East Jerusalem by the Israelis. She tried to work the crowd at the Wailing Wall, which is evidently a bit of a no no. Her guards and the Israeli guards “desecrated” the women’s section of the Wall, people praying were shoved out of the way, nobody told her that you’re not supposed to turn your back on the wall (like the Queen of England, I guess) (or like Bill Clinton, but it’s just common sense not to turn your back on him).

Tuesday, November 09, 1999

The London Times has an article about the last British cavalryman alive to have wielded a sword in battle, at the Somme in 1916.

Saturday, November 06, 1999

Bradley refuses to take his pop quiz, tisk tisk. Gore is no doubt eager to remind the teacher to give him his pop quiz, but is a little hesitant because he’s not sure if that’s alpha male behaviour or not.

Guatemala is evidently about to elect as president an admitted killer (2 he shot in a bar fight in Mexico) who is also a member of the party of Efrain Rios Montt.

The New York Times says that Clinton was a couple of days away from beginning the ground invasion of Kosovo when Milosevic surrendered.

Tajikistan’s dictator Rakhmanov, a name Dubya surely does not know, was just reelected by an entirely legitimate and above board 96%, in a turnout of 98%.

Friday, November 05, 1999

Epsilon male: London Times headline on the story about Dubya’s failure to put names to world leaders, including the one whose coup he praised: “Bush Has Blank Spot for World Leaders.”

The results of the House of Lords elections are in. Baroness Strange can continue to bring flowers. Lord Onslow (It would be as vainglorious etc) also wins, as does Conrad Russell, a historian, so there, and son of Bertrand Russell. I’m reading a biography of his great-grandfather right now, as it happens.

Thursday, November 04, 1999

Oregon rejects a referendum that would have allowed conviction for murder by 11 of 12 members of a jury, so there may be some sanity left in the world after all.

An I told you so: a few weeks back I said the way to embarrass Dubya was not to ask about cocaine but to ask him to name the prime minister of France. A Boston station asked him to name 4 prime ministers. He got one.

Check out the Molly Ivins column in the Star-Telegram about the Colombia war. Again, she says what I said months ago.

Sunday, October 31, 1999

Yet another NY Times editorial about the New Isolationism. There isn’t really a new isolationism, in that no one is advocating that the US abandon the international arena. Some are advocating that it abandon its international responsibilities, but that is another matter entirely. What they are saying is that the US won the cold war and can do anything it wants, including forcing other countries to do whatever we want them to, but without any pretense of ideology, or any of the duties that accrue to power. And that is my final word on the New Isolationism.

Monty Python once envisioned elections fought by the Sensible Party, the Slightly Silly Party, and the Very Silly Party. I think we’ve got something like that now. I saw several headlines about the new Argentine president that used the word “boring.” Now about three years back one of the genres that could be spotted in my e-mails was the wacky South American politician story. You couldn’t be elected mayor of Lima or president of Ecuador without getting married inside a lion’s cage and calling yourself El Loco. Now the old election-o-meter has swung back to the boring party. I think this country needs to scrap the existing party system and switch to the Boring Party and the Entertaining Party. Gore versus Ventura. Hell, the only way Gore will ever get elected president is in a massive reaction to four years of rule by the Silly Party. A modest proposal for 4 in the morning. Or 3 in the morning, but I’m entirely in support of the guy in the Czech Republic who’s trying to stop Daylight Savings Time in court. He calls it genocide, I’m not quite sure why, but I know what party he supports.

Saturday, October 30, 1999

I understand the website of the Florida Supreme Court has pictures from an execution. Those whacky guys! One execution just got postponed because the guy now thinks he’s Jesus or something. A state legislator offered to build a cross himself.

The Russians finally admit that they knew all along what happened to Hitler, and he’s evidently not in Argentina. They kept the bones, burning and disposing of most of them in the German sewer system in 1970. The skull is still somewhere in KGB files. Is this a perfect Halloween story or what?

So the US & NATO went into Kosovo, killed 1,500 or so civilians through bombing, in order to stop the massive genocide going on. So where are all the bodies? Where are the mass graves? We can find these things from orbit now, so where are they? Well, they’ve turned up some bodies so far, maybe 1,400, and it doesn’t look like there are going to be more than a few thousand.

Thursday, October 28, 1999

The newest country in the UN--evidently it slipped in last month without my noticing--is Nauru. Nauru’s economy is evidently no longer entirely dependent on bird shit, since they’ve evidently mined it all, and is now based on laundering Russian mob money.

In 1857, faced with the entry of the British, the Xhosa (of South Africa--Nelson Mandela is one) came up with the brilliant idea, well actually a 15-year old girl had a vision, and killed all of their cattle, 200,000 head, and stopped planting crops. Oddly enough, this resulted in many of them starving to death. Naturally, they blame the British and yesterday sent Prince Charles a bill.

Tuesday, October 26, 1999

Clinton signs pork-laden DOD budget, saying “I cannot allow our national security needs to be held hostage to this budget battle.” Ah, an arms-for-hostages deal. Come back, Ollie North, all is forgiven.

Pat Buchanan said yesterday “The backsliding toward hyphenated Americanism must end.” Buchanan, a fascist-American, then went on tv and divided blame for Auschwitz between the Nazis and oddly enough the Russian NKVD.

AP article from Franklin, Ohio: “A high school teacher has been reprimanded for offering as a writing assignment the question: “If you had to assassinate one famous person who is alive right now, who would it be and how would you do it?”

NY Times headline, “For Her 52d Birthday, the First Lady Feels Like Raising a Million, and Does”. At the fund-raiser, Mia Farrow read from Hillary’s book It Takes a Village. You cannot make stuff like that up. Nor would you want to.

Monday, October 25, 1999

Fairness and Accuracy in Media reports that the Observer story about the US intentionally bombing the Chinese embassy in Belgrade has still not been picked up by the evening broadcasts of the 3 networks, the NY Times, US Today, etc...

Things to read: Molly Ivins’s analysis of the dangers of the new banking/insurance re-monopolization bill; Jacob Weisberg’s piece in Slate analyzing last Friday’s Republican debates.

Pat Buchanan is not worried about running against The Donald, insisting that the Reform Party nomination is not for sale. Um, right. I forget, who have they nominated in the past?

Obit of the week, Van France, who wrote the Disneyland manual “for teaching Disneyland employees precisely how to smile”. To quote the NY Times: “Among graduates of Mr. France’s Disney University are the comedian Steve Martin and Ronald Ziegler, Richard Nixon’s press secretary.”

Now that we’re seriously entering the business of transplanting hearts and lungs from pigs to humans, Britain will require transplantees to promise not to have children. We should be going further and requiring sterilization; this is too seriously dangerous to fuck around with.


A New York magazine competition, calling for brief smart-aleck reviews:
Eyes Wide Shut: And keep them that way.

The Making of the President: No, it’s not what you think.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High: Some assembly required.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Two thumbs off.

Misery: doesn’t love company.

Unfinished Business: Mediocr.

The Stranger: In bookstores today. Or yesterday...

The Dead: You better believe it.

Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: You’ve read the title, now read the book.

Witness: Amish-mash.

Das Kapital: It’s the economy, stupid.

The Prince of Egypt: Passover.

The Last Emperor: Deja fu.

Hamlet: Mundane.

[NOTE: More New York Magazine competitions here.]

Sunday, October 24, 1999


A few days ago I sent out the annual Turner Prize article, which mentioned a piece of “art” at the Tate Gallery featuring a bed with stains and rumpled sheets and whatnot recalling the four days the artist spent sick on it.

Today, some Chinese performance artists stripped to their underwear and jumped up and down on the bed, having a pillow fight. Everybody’s a critic.

Friday, October 22, 1999

More peers’ campaign statements

Russia is saying the Grozny market they bombed yesterday was an arms market. Right.

More of those 75-word manifestos by peers seeking to be elected to retain their seats in the House of Lords (earlier post here), culled from a couple of papers:

The 13th Earl of Seafield, a Tory Old Etonian, used Latin to argue his case: “Being a small and happy bison farmer with aspirations above his station has not yet been a bar to energetic service of Country and Sovereign through an independent chamber. Si fractum non sit, noli id reficere [If it ain’t bust, don’t mend it.]”

Lord Pender, an old Etonian former Army officer, is admirably succinct and has put forward the shortest manifesto containing one word: “Duty”.

The veteran Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Avebury, sets out his stall as a “full time member, Buddhist, cyclist, Camberwell resident, paterfamilias”.

Earl Alexander of Tunis: ‘By the living God who made me, but I love this country. My father fought for her all his life and I too have worn her colours with pride. If it is given to me to remain in your Lordships’ House I will struggle with all I have to offer.’ [You’re a better hereditary peer than I am, Gunga Din]

Earl Arran: ‘With a sometimes over zealous and triumphalist Executive, a Second Chamber of independence and good sense, of reflection and correction, is so important to the respect for Parliament by the British people. Such lifeblood of independence I will fight to preserve.’

Earl De La Warr: ‘Attendance record poor. Reason - full-time job in City (Director of Corporate Finance Department of a European Investment Bank), not lack of interest.”

Earl Granard: ‘Vote for a conservative counterbalance to the ‘Trendy’ modernising influence of The Lords Spiritual. Is nothing sacred?’

Earl Lauderdale: ‘Chairman European Scrutiny Sub-Committee F (later D) 1974-79 notorious therein for requiring crisp clarity instead of verbose ‘officialese’ in Committee reports.’

Lord Seaford: ‘Being a small and happy bison farmer with aspirations above his station has not yet been a bar to energetic service of Country and Sovereign through an independent chamber.’ [Now, wait, is *he* small and happy or are the bison small and happy?]


Viscount Alanbrooke: ‘The THIRD REICH was defeated largely through the strategic planning of Sir Winston Churchill and Field Marshal The Viscount Alanbrooke, CIGS and Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. Alanbrooke was awarded a HEREDITARY peerage in 1946. His massive contribution to the continuance of our freedom can be respected by ensuring that the Honour conferred on him by Monarch and People should be maintained in the exact detail intended for perpetuity.’

Lord Amwell: ‘A working class hereditary peer - rare species. A chartered engineer and the House’s only chartered geologist.’

Baroness Arlington: ‘My determination and resolve has been immeasurably strengthened by the sudden death of my husband who played such an important part in supporting me this year when I took my seat.’

Lord Catto: ‘For the last 40 years since my father died I have considered it morally wrong, purely from accident of birth, to presume to become a member of a legislative body. On the other hand I strongly support a bicameral system with a small number of representative hereditary peers included to maintain and support the monarchy and the great traditions of our country.’ [So what the hey]

Lord Craigmyle: ‘I came to your Lordships’ House in the same spirit as I would have accepted jury duty, or call-up in times of war. Had I wanted to stand for election, I would have tried another place, long ago.’


Lord Rea: ‘Initially a reluctant peer, I now attend and sing for my supper regularly.’

Thursday, October 21, 1999

So has anyone heard of this California state senator Pete Wright who is sponsoring an anti-gay marriage initiative and has a gay son and a dead gay brother, mentioned in tomorrow’s Washington Post? The son is evidently writing op-ed pieces about what a bigot his father is. I’m just guessing that Orange County is involved in this story somewhere.

Russia, still following NATO’s Kosovo playbook, bombs a maternity hospital.

Britain, to make Jiang Zemin at home during his state visit, has been beating up protestors and taking away Tibetan flags. One protestor who probably won’t be beaten up: Prince Charles, who is boycotting the state banquet.

Women MPs in Britain are getting a breastfeeding room. I’ll bet Congress doesn’t have that.

Did you know that nuclear weapons are illegal? Evidently the International Court of Justice ruled that in 1996. Today, a British court let off some women who snuck onto a Trident submarine base and started wrecking the place, on the grounds that the nukes were illegal.

Elizabeth Dole pulls out of the Presidential race, citing lack of money, and calls for the passing of stringent campaign finance reform. I kid, of course. Now the elections will be sadly lacking her message and her issues, which had something to do with being chosen as vice president and being a woman (although she did always look like a man in drag to me).

A report is released listing most of the 23 countries in which the US stored nukes in the ‘50s. What doesn’t seem to have made the American papers is that less than 10 years after the end of World War II Luftwaffe pilots had effective control over nuclear warheads. This ended in 1960, when we figured out how to put The Club on them.

Wednesday, October 20, 1999

Jesse Helms is holding up the nomination of former Senator Carol Moseley-Braun as ambassador to New Zealand because she opposed the United Daughters of the Confederacy using the Confederate battle flag.

Russia is finally ending its military occupation of Latvia on Thursday. Yeah, it was a surprise to me too.

Tuesday, October 19, 1999

A Teheran court sentences someone to have his eyes gouged out before he is hanged.

David Trimble, the Ulster Unionist leader, says that the sectarian marches are just good old fashioned fun for the whole family, folk festivals if you will, which one day will be major tourist attractions. I can just see it. The Macy’s Anniversary of King Billy Kicking the Crap Out of the Bloody Papists Day Parade. Just needs the addition of large helium balloons of lovable cartoon characters like Bullwinkle, Snoopy and Ian Paisley.

Friday, October 15, 1999

Lords have mercy

In Britain, the new Liberal Democrat spokesman on women’s issues is a man. He says that this is appropriate since it’s men who cause most of women’s problems. For example, he himself is divorced.

The neighbors of Hugh Hefner are complaining that his parties use up all the parking spaces in the neighborhood.

So how did France get hold of Carlos the Jackal five years ago? It seems they made a deal involving sending military equipment and satellite photos to Sudan, which I need hardly tell you is a terrorist state.

I mentioned a while back that hereditary members of the House of Lords were asked to submit 75-word statements on why they should be elected to the 92 spots allotted for hereditaries on a temporary basis in the reformed House. Some of those statements have been submitted. These are culled from the Times and Telegraph.

Viscount Monckton of Brenchley is campaigning on a platform of muzzling cats in public to prevent the “agonising torture” of mice and little birdies.

Baroness Strange reminded peers that the Lords would be a duller place without her. She brings flowers every day.

The Conservative peers Lord Morris and the Earl of Onslow made it clear that the whole thing was simply in bad taste. “It is hardly for me to attempt to proselytise my candidature; it is a matter for my peers,” Lord Morris said. The Earl of Onslow declared “It would be as vainglorious to proclaim a personal manifesto, as it would be arrogant to list any achievement.”

Viscount Torrington, at 56 a relatively junior member of the Lords, risks allegations of unsportsmanlike conduct by implicitly drawing attention to the age of his rivals. He said: “I believe that I am young enough to continue to contribute with enthusiasm and energy to (the House of Lords’) work.”

Lord Geddes demonstrates a populist touch by adopting the slogan “brains; breadth; brevity”, and Lord Montagu of Beaulieu stresses his knowledge of issues including the New Forest and the historic vehicle movement.

(Note: more campaign statements here.)
Evidently the execution warrant signed for Mumia yesterday has nothing to do with execution, but is intended to harass him by putting him on death watch, and to force him to submit his habeas appeal to federal court earlier than he had intended, to try to force him into a legal error. Cute.

6 billion people. Could everyone scootch over a bit? Thank you. Fortunately, this is not a problem with the United States, which evidently has no population problem, even though every kid here will consume as many resources as your average African village. A modest proposal: cancel next year’s census. Let’s not do reapportionment anymore. India stopped doing that in order to let state governments that are successful in population control not be penalized.

Thursday, October 14, 1999

Well the good news about the Pakistani coup is that control of the nuclear button was never in doubt because control is already in the hands of the military. The bad news is that control of the nuclear button is in the hands of the military. Wonder who has it in India?

Supreme Court lets stand a ruling that a defendent is not entitled to a lawyer for a habeas corpus hearing, even if he is semi-retarded and due to be executed for a crime committed when he was 17. He went into court and kept asking, what am I supposed to be saying, what am I supposed to be doing.

Also, a warrant of execution has been signed for Mumia Al-whatsit for December.

Monica Lewinsky’s father is threatening to sue a tv show (I forget which one, and I watched it, too) for referring to oral sex as “getting a Lewinsky.”

Does anyone know anything about Ulysses S Grant expelling Jews from Tennessee during the Civil War?

Monday, October 11, 1999

Kansas (I already did the “If I only had a brain” joke, right?) now deletes the Big Bang from its science curriculum, along with evolution.

Tony Blair reshuffles his Cabinet, putting disgraced friend Peter Mandelson in charge of Northern Island, which is less a rehabilitation (M borrowed some money from a Cabinet colleague to buy a house, big deal) than a purgatory. I checked four British papers to see if any of them would have the nerve to comment on the fact that the man being sent to oversee a sectarian conflict is Jewish. They did not, which makes it the most interesting ommission since the NY Times story last week about France choosing a new model for statues of Marianne, a 21-year old underwear model, and running with it a picture of her from the neck up only. Mandelson is also gay, which should piss off both sides about equally. Since the “peace” deal, both sides have been stepping up their policing activities, beating up and kneecapping and executing and exiling in larger numbers than ever before, while the government pretends nothing is happening.

Sunday, October 10, 1999

New Mexico removes creationism from the state curriculum.

There was a bio of Gore’s early years in yesterday’s Wash Post. Who’da guessed it, he was a tattle tale.

The Scottish Catholic Church has been paying 12 and 14 year olds not to have abortions.

Friday, October 01, 1999

Bulgaria abolishes the death penalty.

I know I’m not the only one who can’t see tv news reports of nuclear accidents in Japan without looking in the background for Godzilla.

In H.G. Wells’s War of the Worlds, Martian invaders were brought down by the common cold; in 1999 a NASA probe to Mars was brought down by the metric system. Coincidence? I think not.

And a big happy b-day to the People’s Republic of China. I especially liked the sight of 100,000 party members chanting the approved slogans, like “Hey hey, ho ho, Long live great Marxist-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory!” and, “Hey hey, LBJ, Rely on the working class wholeheartedly!”

Wednesday, September 29, 1999

Dubya thinks Buchanan should stay in the Republican party. This whole thing is cynical as hell. The Reform Party wants him, mostly, because he might get them the 5% they need to get big federal matching funds next time around; the federal money is the only reason Buchanan would consider the party to begin with. Dubya is willing to overlook the whole Hitler thing for fear of losing votes (asked his own opinions on Hitler, he responded that he would not play the politics of personal destruction [joke from the Daily Show]).

Read the AP report, which can be found in the NY Times but not the Post, on the US massacre of Koreans during the Korean War.

Speaking of war crimes, General Pinochet’s lawyer, who yesterday were pleading for him to be released because of his poor health, stirring up all the sympathy they could, today say that the dead people named in the Spanish indictment don’t count as torture victims because the electric shocks killed them so quickly.

Gary Bauer held a news conference to announce that he was not having an affair with a young campaign worker. His Christian loon aides resigned because, well they don’t say they think he had the affair, just that he spent time alone with a woman, and Christians evidently don’t do that.

Invention of the week: a see-through toaster.

Tuesday, September 28, 1999

It seems that the new Israeli government is approving settlements even faster than Netanyahu did. Also, Israel is training torturers in an infamous (there’s a word I don’t often use!) prison run by the South Lebanese Army with Israeli funding. They torture people to death there.

Dan Quayle drops out of the race, blames lack of money but oddly does not call for campaign finance reform. Don’t laugh, this is Al Gore 4 or 8 years from now.

Misspelling in a fortune cookie: “The best profit of future is the past.”

At the Labour Party conference today, Tony Blair declared the class war over. Evidently the middle class have won. Outside, a demonstration raged. In favor of fox-hunting. Tally ho!

Monday, September 27, 1999


New York magazine competition, messages for two sides of a business or visiting card.

Michael Corleone. 1. Never ask me about my
2. business card.

1. Cabinets, Bureaus, Desks
2. Water into Wine

Dan Quayle:
1. Please see other side.
2. Please see other side.

Emily Dickinson:
1. I’m nobody.
2. Who are you?

1. Stephen Baldwin
2. No, no, no--_Stephen_.

1. Jack Benny
2. Please return to Jack Benny.

1. A. F. Mobius
2. A. F. Mobius

1. Shirley MacLaine--Actress, Author
2. 100% Recycled Paper

1. Inspector 12
2. Inspected by Inspector 12

Noah Webster:
1. Obverse.
2. Reverse.

1. Philipphilipphilipphilip
2. Glassglassglassglass

1. Lemuel Gulliver
2. No job too big or too small

1. Ishmael
2. Call me.

[NOTE: More New York Magazine competitions here.]

Saturday, September 25, 1999

Stupid Hollywood idea of the week: a remake of Barbarella. Drew Barrymore?

So there’s this guy in the part of Poland ceded to Russia in 1940. After the German invasion, he decides, in 1942 to go into hiding in the attic, because it’s scary out there and Germans are killing Ukrainians. The Red Army sweeps in in 1944 and he was thinking about coming out and joining them, but they didn’t give the soldiers leather jackets and he had a cold. “I’ll just wait till spring,” he thought. Germany loses and, well, people who evaded joining the Great Patriotic War were being punished. So long story medium, he’s been living in an attic 57 years and came out because his sister died.

Friday, September 24, 1999

The Daily Telegraph observes that the list of targets Russia has been bombing in Chechnya looks remarkably like the targets NATO bombed in Kosovo. You’ll remember I predicted this a month or two ago.

A truly creepy Hungarian married couple have just had his and hers (or is it hers and his?) sex-change operations.

The Official Monster Raving Loony party in Britain, replaces its late leader Screaming Lord Sutch, with a joint-leadership after the two candidates tied. Alan Hope, mayor of Ashburton, will share the duties with his cat Mandu.

All those East Timorese refugees in West Timor out of the reach of the Australian and Ghurka troops seem to be being held as hostages by the militias. Not good.

Bumper sticker: Earth First. We’ll Ruin the Other Planets Later. Another: Honk if You Inhale.

Sunday, September 19, 1999

So an executive at the Disney on-line service used the Internet to pick up under-age girls. I can’t even begin to come up with a joke funny enough to cover that one.

Fascism is on the rise in Austria, if yesterday’s regional election in Vorarlberg is anything to go on. 27.5%. And the German SPD loses its 5th election in a row, Saxony this time, coming in with half the votes as the former communists, who we really need to start calling something better than former communists.

Saturday, September 18, 1999

The Sunday NY Times contains the longest list I’ve seen yet of the 50 approved slogans for the 50th anniversary of the communist takeover of China. Also an article about Iceland’s belief in elves. Which are both fun, but the paper still hasn’t found space for the news that Israeli PM Barak wants legislation to re-legalize torture.

Looking through some of my old e-mails, I found that back in May I was complaining about the US training Indonesia in police procedures. I suggested that we were heading towards complicity in the creation of death squads, just like in Central America in the 1980s and South America in the 1970s. I just mention this as preface for the following: I told you so.

In the stupid Hollywood ideas department, Harrison Ford says he’s not too old (58) to do another Indiana Jones movie. The London Times comment was that the next time he finds a valuable ancient relic... And there is talk of reviving Are You Being Served (the horror, the horror), and of reviving Dr. Who--to be directed by the creators of the Blair Witch Project.

Wednesday, September 15, 1999

New York magazine competition, unusual greeting cards:

So you’re a juror at my brother Vinnie’s trial!

A belated message of forewarning.

Thanks, but do I know you?

Sharing in your profound disappointment with Eyes Wide Shut.

We are so, like, not thinking of you.

I’m so sorry to hear your friend has succeeded.

Welcome back from your alien abduction

Thanks for the alibi.

You’re a girl!

To my husband’s mistress on her 21st birthday.

So you’ve discovered your husband’s computer password.

Congratulations on adopting a highway.

Thank you for the soft money.

Thinking of you as you face damnation.

So you’re the master of your domain!

Here’s wishing you and yours a rapturous apocalypse.

[NOTE: More New York Magazine competitions here.]

Monday, September 13, 1999

The New Statesman’s columnist Suzanne Moore, writing about attempts by British politicians to make themselves liked, says some things that are applicable to American politics. She asks why don’t we just accept that they are ambitious aliens with a very narrow set of interests which makes them good at their job but not necessarily someone we want to be friends with. The things that politicians do in order to be liked are to far outside the realms of normal behaviour that it is very difficult to relate to them as people we might like at all: kissing available babies, accosting strangers in the street, getting engaged for the sake of a career, taking part in sporting events in which they have no interest (see Hillary Clinton in NY).

Thursday, September 09, 1999

More pink laundry/bring out your dead/intervention

A British prisoner sues because his shirt turned pink in the wash.

The CBS/Viacom merger, beyond being inherently evil in itself, is another merger whose whole basis is that the government will get out of its way and waive any little anti-trust, media monopoly regulations standing in its way.

Dubya’s entry into the Texas Air National Guard was indeed eased by political intervention. Yeah, yeah, we all knew that, but it seems the intervention came from the (Democratic) speaker of the Texas Lege, who by the way got that job at 26 and was washed up by our age.

My favorite British politician died this week, and by favorite I mean most entertaining. Alan Clark’s obit in Wednesday’s London Times is the most entertaining article I’ve read in some time. The battle to replace him in the safe Tory seat of Kensington & Chelsea will be an interesting one, and possibly the beginning of the end for poor hapless William Jefferson Hague. Michael Portillo is expected to return to Parliament. I think I mentioned a couple of weeks back, or maybe I didn’t, that Blair’s attempt to make Peter Mandelson minister of defence was foundering on the Dark Prince’s homosexuality. Well, it seems that Portillo is now admitting to a few youthful indiscretions along those lines himself. Portillo was Major’s defence minister, when he (as recently as 1996) defended the ban on gays in the military. In 1997, Portillo lost his seat to a Labourite homosexual.

Janet Reno’s decision to appoint John Danforth to investigate Waco just shows that she doesn’t have cable tv, where last week was shown a docudrama of the Clarence Thomas hearings, reminding us of Danforth’s role in that. The scene of him and Thomas praying on a bathroom floor with the Battle Hymn of the Republic, or whatever it was, playing on a tape recorder, was taken from real life.

Why precisely do we need Indonesian permission to send UN troops into East Timor if their illegal occupation was never recognized in the first place?

More British news about pink laundry--evidently it’s just that sort of a news week. A dry cleaner is being sued for turning a tea stain on an expensive silk sheet into a pink tint. The suer is someone who in 1995 won 11 million pounds in the lottery.

Chicago-style politics, Indian-style: it is common practice in India to declare people dead so that you can “inherit” their land. Now the dead not only vote, they have organized a political party, and will oppose the prime minister in his seat at the next general election.

Thursday, September 02, 1999

You know how to whistle, don’t you?

NY Times headline: “White House Seekers Wear Faith on Sleeve and Stump”. Stump? Did someone have a thresher accident while campaigning in Iowa?

NY mayor Benito Giuliani is currently serving as a juror in the case of a man whose genitals were scalded. So suddenly this poor schmuck, who maybe didn’t want quite this much publicity for his case, is plastered all over the NY media.

It seems the Germans covered up the fact that aspirin was discovered by a Jew. An obvious joke comes to mind, but I’d best not.

Cliff’s Notes is to do versions of the “For Dummies” books. Civilization has officially ended.

Yet another school has banned Huckleberry Finn: Mark Twain Intermediate in Houston (this is an Internet story, so take it with a grain of salt--if someone knows for a fact that this is real please say so).

From the London Times:

SPANISH schoolchildren on La Gomera in the Canary Islands are to be forced to take classes in the art of whistling.

The island’s government has decided that children will have to learn the whistling language that has been used by Gomeran shepherds for centuries. The language, which is believed to predate Spanish on the island, was developed as a way of communicating across the deep valleys that cut its mountainous terrain.

Children will be expected to learn to carry out conversations between hilltop and hilltop from a distance of up to two miles. Whistling classes will form an obligatory part of primary education and will become voluntary in secondary education.

Experts say that the Gomera silbo, or whistle, is not a language of its own but uses whistling sounds to imitate the syllables of speech. Whistlers use not just the mouth, but also their fingers and hands to vary the tones and increase the distance.

They place their fingers in their mouths to alter the shape and positioning of their tongues. Cupped hands allow the sound to travel further.

The silbo has similarities to the whistle language used by the peoples of the Atlas Mountains in North Africa.

The Gomera whistle was almost lost in the 1960s, when only a handful of shepherds still knew how to communicate with it. Some local historians have claimed that General Franco’s administrators on the island discouraged its use because they did not know what people were saying.

The silbo has since gained great popularity and the island, which has 17,000 inhabitants, has introduced an annual whistling day.

Experts admit, however, that whistling is a somewhat limited way of talking. “You can carry out conversations but there are not many things you can talk about,” Juan Evaristo, a local education director, said.

Friday, August 27, 1999

The California legislature makes it illegal to use a hidden camera to look up women’s skirts.

What the hell is pyrotechnic tear gas anyway?

The King of Buganda gets married, but rescinds the ancient tradition that no one else in the kingdom is allowed to have sex on his wedding night.

The Germans are planning to make prostitution more legal, so that prostitutes will qualify for social benefits. Prostitution is legal in most countries in Europe. In Greece, retirement is mandatory at 55. Of course in Greece, all the prostitutes look like Anthony Quinn.

Wednesday, August 25, 1999

Mississippi has decided that the Star of David is not a gang symbol and will be allowed in schools. And Christians will presumably continue to be allowed to wear replicas of instruments of torture around their necks, as per usual.

The Venezuelan congress has been to all intents and purposes eliminated today, so the coup is complete.

Tuesday, August 24, 1999

You can’t go home again

Palo Alto has begun giving $30 tickets to SUVs in parking spaces marked compact.

Russian peacekeepers in Kosovo have been taking lessons from the Germans on how to occupy a country politely. Really. Like, when you search someone’s car, smile at them. As far as I know, they are not showing them Hogan’s Heroes reruns. Next week, the British will teach them not to steal from the car.

Clinton says he has never used cocaine. Um, did anyone ask? There goes the last reasonable explanation for “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Speaking of which, Tony Blair is having a problem replacing the outgoing Defence Minister George Robertson with his old running mate Peter Mandelson, aka the Prince of Darkness. Mandelson is gay, so the armed forces chiefs think it would be inappropriate as long as they’re still banning gays in the lower ranks.

When the House of Lords is reformed, 92 hereditary peers will be allowed to stay on temporarily. They will be elected by their fellow hereditaries, and are supposed to write an essay on Why I Should Be in the House of Lords in 75 words or less. And I am not making that up.

Monday, August 23, 1999

Happy 1 billionth, India!

This week marks one year since the US bombed a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. We are still waiting for proof that it had anything to do with bio weapons. All the US can point to is some soil samples, which we always knew were iffy because they were taken by Sudanese enemies of the regime, and because by some reports there isn’t actually any soil anywhere in that industrial region to take soil samples from. Now it turns out that there is no particular reason a bioweapons plant would have been poisoning nearby soil.

Anyone want to start a pool on when Bush has to answer the question on cocaine? And how about where? Larry King? I’m of two minds on this one, since my past record on predicting which scandals were going to be big and which would never be heard from again has been pretty poor. It could be forgotten completely once any real news kills it. Or it could expose the support Dubya has accumulated as being so thin it could blow away, like the cocaine when Woody Allen sneezed at it in Annie Hall (Manhattan?). He’s running on morals which he obviously doesn’t really have, and on a biography because he lacks a resume. Any real candidate would either take this head-on in hopes of getting through it, or talk about actual issues, you know, politics, what campaigns are supposed to be about, except, oh yeah, he has no issues. If reporters wanted to embarrass him, they wouldn’t need to ask him about past cocaine use, but to name the prime minister of France.

Saturday, August 21, 1999

Quote of the day: “Life has taught me nothing. Which is as it should be.” Stephen Fry

At some point I mentioned or forwarded something about Indians (Asian Indians) using transvestites to collect debts (pay up or I’ll show you my genitals). Evidently this sort of thing is done by the big companies like Citibank who operate in India and subcontract out their debt-collecting. Since the legal system is for shit, other methods of collection include kidnapping and strong-arm tactics. One Citibank sub-contractor tried to get people to sell a kidney to pay a $750 debt. When that became known they cancelled the contract, only to resume it two years later, suggesting that the company change its name.

Friday, August 20, 1999

The Village Voice says of Pierce Brosnan in the Thomas Crown Affair that he is wooden “but a nice wood, like teak.”

NY mayor Benito Guiliani is now sending out his storm troopers to arrest people without dog licenses.

The CA. Sup Court allows warrantless searches for “community care-taking functions,” in the case in question for entering a home whose door was reported as being ajar [which is evidently illegal now] and spotting drugs. Justice Mosk observes that the fuzz could have performed their community care-taking function by shutting the door.

Singapore, efficient as always, declares all candidates for president but one ineligible and cancels the election.

Dubya says that he has not used drugs in at least 15 years. His handlers say 25, but that is not what he said. He won’t answer questions about drugs, but he would answer this question because it was about background checks. Unfortunately, he was wrong about the requirement of White House background checks, which is not 7 years, but from age 18. Shrub’s incompetent handling of this question is already making some people question his ability to deal with more difficult ones. Also, he said “fuck” in an interview. Sneaking up on him is the possibility of a contempt citation in Formaldegate, in which he gutted the Texas Funeral Service Commission and fired its head when it dared to target a Bush campaign contributor.

Tuesday, August 17, 1999

Earthquake in Turkey, 2,000 dead. Earthquake in Bolinas, 2 books fell on my head.

I didn’t start out intending that to rhyme.

George Dubya wins a meaningless Iowa poll by buying more straw than anyone else, or however it works, and Lamar Alexander insults the democratic process by resigning the race in response. Alexander, by the way, like fellow loser Dan Quayle, has been unemployed for 6 1/2 years.

The Texas schizo’s execution has been cancelled by the courts, something that Bush didn’t actually have the power to do, given that his appointees on the pardon board voted against it. As Molly Ivins will tell you, the Texas governorship is not like a real governor; he isn’t allowed to do much.

I think Russia is following the American example and planning to win the Dagestan war through air power. The US hit the Chinese embassy, the Russians will probably bomb Tiananmen Square.

In South Korea, today was the day to eat dog. This has been illegal in Korea since shortly before the Seoul Olympics, but that doesn’t stop them. I think I express everyone’s sentiments when I wish all dog-eating Koreans a case of projectile vomiting.

Monday, August 16, 1999

The games coppers play

The head of the German Jewish community dies, his body is shipped to Israel so his grave won’t be desecrated by neo-Nazis. His grave is promptly desecrated by a Jew.

Imelda Marcos has been up to her old tricks and now has many thousands of pairs of shoes again.

Former dictator of Indonesia Suharto, who claims to have only one name, a likely story if you ask me, is sick but is afraid to get medical treatment in a country with, you know, doctors, because of Pinochet being arrested when he went to Britain for medical treatment.

The US has opened a consulate in Ho Chi Minh City on the site of the old embassy from all those 1975 films. The consulate has a sloped roof, so no helicopters can land there.

This should be a national story, but since the Washington Post hasn’t touched it, I’d better pass along that in Monday’s LA Times it was revealed that Stanford University has been using teenaged inmates 14 to 18 in drug experiments, the drug in question being supposed to reduce their violent tendencies. Project Clockwork Orange, or whatever they called it, was obviously illegal, but the Cal Youth Authority claims to have been lied to by Stanford, which is hardly an excuse.

In South Africa, a white woman wins a racial discrimination suit against the state-owned electricity company. Right.

Speaking of racial discrimination, Utah Senator Robert Bennett is in trouble for saying something to the effect that George Dubya is now a shoe-in unless a black woman comes forward with his illegitimate baby. My favorite phrase in the Post story: “Senator Bennett, who is white...” My God, the Republican Senator from Utah is white! However did that happen?!

Saturday, August 14, 1999

If you want to be depressed for the rest of the day, read the article on Russian orphanages in the Sunday Washington Post.

Paris has a new restaurant called Gout du Noir, in which all the waiters are blind and the place is itself so dark that one can’t see even anything at all even after an hour. It is for people who want to see what it’s like to be blind and eat crappy food. Or, France being France, who want to see what it’s like to have sex in the middle of a restaurant without being arrested.

In Kosovo, the UN is insisting on implementing the laws imposed on the province by Serbia after the take-over in 1989 rather than reverting to the laws of the autonomous province. It has also given UN soldiers and police the right to hold people for 12 hours just because they feel like it.

Thanks to Georgia’s antiquated divorce law, we’re going to get to hear all about Newt’s mistress, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Incidentally, David Corn writes that he did indeed try to get that story four years ago but couldn’t get enough of it on the record. Still, it does prove what I suggested a few days ago, that everyone in Washington knew about this including the reporters, but failed to include us in on the secret. I haven’t seen a picture, but whatshername is supposed to look a lot like Hillary. What I really want to know is how people like Newt always seem to have hot and cold running mistresses while I couldn’t get a date for the Millennial New Year with a fistful of E-tickets for the Rapture.

Thursday, August 12, 1999

Uzis and floozies

The guy who shot up the Jewish community center was carrying an Uzi. Oh the irony.

Evidently, Gingrich really quit politics because he was himself in the middle of an affair with a (much younger) House staff member. Why didn’t we know this earlier? For example back in 1995 when Vanity Fair mentioned that she and he frequently had breakfast together, which is I guess not that subtle a hint. Reminiscent of the Washington Post, which once wrote about Jennifer Fitzgerald, Bush the Elder’s alleged bit on the side, describing her as having “worked under Mr. Bush in a variety of positions.”

Wednesday, August 11, 1999

As predicted, Kansas (Official song, from now on: “If I only had a brain”) banned the teaching of evolution from its schools, except for micro-evolution, that is, evolutionary development within species. Alabama has a little sticker on all its books saying that evolution is just a theory and we don’t really know because nobody was there when life first appeared except for Strom Thurmond and he doesn’t remember.

Washington Post headline of the week: “Hate May Have Been Behind Fatal Barracks Beating”

Quote of the week, Marilyn Quayle on George Bush the Younger: “Everything he got, Daddy took care of.” That reminds me of a dirty joke about Quayle that I can’t quite remember. Anybody?

China gets its first condom machines. Previously, condoms were available only to married couples by prescription.

The proposed preamble to the Australian constitution will not after all include the word “mateship”, which is one of those Australian concepts that makes the place so gosh-darned charming. I could give you a lecture on the origins of the idea in World War I, but I think not.

Yesterday India shot down a Pakistani plane over India and/or Pakistan. I say “and/or” because what the American press didn’t quite get yesterday was that the area was disputed, so both sides were correct in their claims.

Monday, August 09, 1999

A new study says that the dramatic decrease in crime is due to the legalization of abortion in the 1970s, by ridding the world of a lot of unwanted children. It seems questionable, but boy will it be fun to watch the fireworks.

Yeltsin has fired yet another prime minister. I think the talk I’ve heard about it so far may be wrong-headed. Putin’s career over the last few years has been in putting down separatism, and Dagestan does look like going the way of Chechnya. Ironically, the appointment can also be interpreted as a move towards tribalism within the Kremlin, as Yeltsin attempts to use Petersburg as a regional power-base against the center of power around the mayor of Moscow, who increasingly looks like winning next year’s presidential elections. I think it will fail, but it will ensure that if the mayor whose name I can’t spell without looking it up wins, then the resulting administration will look even more like a Greater Muscovy with less and less legitimacy more than a hundred miles from downtown Moscow.

I keep seeing references to this poll that says 3/4 of the people think there have been worse scandals since Watergate, but I have to wonder which ones they mean. You could maybe make a case for Iran-Contra, but somehow I don’t think that’s what they mean. Nixon’s role in history looks better because Nixon so degraded the office of the presidency (although not with semen stains, which you can probably get out with a little club soda) and increased public cynicism, that Nixon himself doesn’t look so bad. If you follow.

Saturday, August 07, 1999

I trust you’re all searching out the curiously unobtrusive stories about how the KLA are turning into nazis and thieves and drug-runners just as bad as the Serbs were. Remember, there are people it is ok to mistreat. Quick history test: how many people can name the year in which Buchenwald was closed?

A story worth reading in the Sunday Washington Post on the increasing exclusion of evolution from American classrooms, which is expected to reach Kansas this week. The only fit punishment for these people is for their doctors to have major gaps in their biological education.

Speaking of abysmal ignorance, in the last 18 months over 350 witches have been killed in Tanzania. You know what’s going over big in Tanzania right now? Human skin, which protects homes from evil spirits. So if anyone was wondering what to buy me for my birthday...

Speaking of August, the French now have an absolute right not to be in Paris when the tourists are there in August. The government now pays for the unemployed to have vacations. Unemployment is hard work.

Texas again. On June 17, Dubya signed his 100th death warrant. What sort of party do you have for that? More on the Larry Robison case featured in the Molly Ivins piece I sent out earlier this week: despite all that evidence of Robison having been a whacko for years, the prosecutor claimed that he was faking mental illness and it was really just drugs. How did he get away with that? Because the defense attorney didn’t call any of the several doctors who diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic, nor did he mention the numerous mentally ill family members. And to answer my own question, (this new information comes from the Sunday Times of London by the way)(which shows a touching innocence about American politics by suggesting that the case is controversial) Dubya commuted exactly one sentence. Of a guy who clearly didn’t do it. Not that that has always stopped Texas, or Shrub. Will he kill the loon? Well, Clinton did, Ricky Ray Rector, the guy who saved his dessert.

Friday, August 06, 1999

I mentioned a while back a Catholic who doesn’t want to be in the small control room in the nuclear missile silo with women because of the temptation to sin. Someone has commented that perhaps we don’t want someone with his finger on the button without at least a little ability to resist temptation. (That did not start out to be a statement about Clinton.)

Christopher Hitchens has a column in Salon about George Dubya’s 93 executions. It certainly brings up the question of how much time he spends on them in addition to running the rest of the state. If you had to decide whether someone should die once every two weeks, on average, how much time would you devote to it? And still have a little spare time to fund-raise and run for the presidency. Hitchens mentions the juveniles and one case that from the wording may or may not have been in Dubya’s watch, of a gay man whose lawyer used words like queers and fairies. In court. When he wasn’t asleep. Court-appointed, don’t you know.

12 candidates for president were asked about past cocaine use. 11 denied it. Dubya, in the words of the London Times headline, sniffed at the question. (The Times was on a headline binge today. The obituary of the world’s oldest goldfish said something about him talking a last spin. The fish, if you were wondering, was 43. Tish, we hardly knew ye. And a story about a Japanese war museum that just opened said something about not mentioning the war, a line from Fawlty Towers you should all recognize, which the paper uses every chance it gets. The World War II museum is so sanitized that it doesn’t use words like war or bombing, much less comfort women, Pearl Harbor, Manchukuo... Those people still think they’re the victims of that war. The museum opened on Hiroshima Day.

Stalin’s grandson is barred from running for the Georgian Parliament. Cause he’s a Russian citizen.

Montenegro proposes autonomy, the papers all said today. If they bothered to read the document, they’d realize that Montenegro’s proposal was intended to be rejected, since it gives tiny Montenegro parity with Serbia in the federal government. The US policy, amazingly enough, is that Montenegro should remain within Yugoslavia.

In the death knell to the few non-network tv stations left in the country, companies are now to be allowed to own two stations in larger markets. As Scott Schuger points out in the Slate, this decision was made by 4 guys in the FCC, not by Congress.

Man wins drinking competition in Sydney, dies of alcohol poisoning. Stereotype lives on.

The Lee Harvey Oswald file from Russia has a document on a hunting trip. Oswald “shot very badly”. Sigh.

Thursday, August 05, 1999

The Israeli army is trying to figure out how to recruit more Arabs. There isn’t enough sarcasm in the world to respond to that item.

The Syrian defense minister calls Yassir Arafat the son of 60,000 whores (which must make for a very crowded delivery room). General Tlass once wrote a treatise on the place of garlic in Islamic life.

There is a major push for independence in the Caprivi Strip. If it succeeds, it’ll be the silliest looking country in the world, that’s for sure.

As I feared, the failure of the Irish peace plan has spurred several republican splinter groups--the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA, the Irish National Liberation Army and the People’s Front of Judea--into merging. As we know, the only thing that brings more violence in Ireland than IRA splinter groups merging, is IRA splinter groups splintering.

The leader of the Welsh Tory party Rod Richards evidently took two much younger women he’d never met before out to dinner, and then beat one of them up. This less than a year after the Welsh Secretary Ron Davies joined a couple of much younger men he’d never met before in dinner and got the crap beaten out of him in what certainly wasn’t a homosexual encounter. Richards has been replaced by the equally alliterative David Davies. Speaking as someone who occasionally has to study Welsh history, let him give a word of advice to the Welsh: get some more fucking names! Everyone does not have to be named Davies, Williams or Jones or have the first names David, William or John.
Sunday is the 25th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s resignation and there seems to be nothing scheduled on tv, although there is a movie in theaters about teenaged girls breaking the whole Watergate thing. Doesn’t seem quite right. Although, to my surprise, the media still haven’t gotten tired of speculating about why Clinton likes to have a lot of sex. I can only assume none of them have ever had sex themselves and are still wondering what the fuss is all about. Incidentally, there is something intrinsically evil, in a culture-destroying sense, about a magazine named Talk. I trust I don’t have to explain that.

Speaking of decadent western culture, Iran has reversed its ban on the import of decadent western musical instruments like pianos. Truly the ways of the devil have returned to this once righteous land. Unless they are planning to drop a piano on Salman Rushdie.

In Saudi Arabia at a wedding, the bride commented to her husband on how badly his mother was dancing. He divorced her on the spot.

An IRA prisoner in the 7th year of his 24-year sentence in Britain was allowed out on a weekend pass to launch his new book.

On tv, I just saw those 107-year old Japanese twins I may have mentioned a couple of days ago. I don’t have anything to say about them, but fuck do they look old.

Some guy with a, what was it, a hatchet, dies from cuts during a chase with police in Bakersfield. Evidently it’s not just scissors.

Monday, August 02, 1999

Bagging game

So the Christian Coalition (which, like the Moral Majority, is neither) bore false witness about its membership numbers. Tsk tsk.

Evidently Gen. Wesley Clark wanted to get into a race for Pristina when the Russians were heading that way but the Brits refused. I did tell you at the start of all this that the most combative person was going to be the one whose name got him beaten up the most at school. The British general who refused, Michael Jackson, would have been but he was born too early for his name to be a problem.

Friday, July 30, 1999

NASA sends up a probe to look at the asteroid Braille, flies it a million miles, and then finds that the camera is pointing in the wrong direction. Braille, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t write the jokes, I just live them.

Russia makes it legal to have stolen cars. But you’re supposed to go to the police and bribe them to have a special notice to put in the window saying “Wanted by Interpol”. After a year, you can legally re-sell the car. This is yet another opportunity for the police to extort bribes, although I can’t figure why that notice wouldn’t be an open invitation for someone else to steal the car. With something like 800,000 stolen cars in Moscow (out of how many? the papers didn’t say, but it sounds like 800,001), there’s just no storage room for recovered vehicles.

Similarly, traffic ticket extortion is so blatant in Mexico City that they ordered all police to stop issuing traffic tickets and left the job to a few--exclusively female--cops. Evidently that worked in Lima.

Tonga, whose entire income comes from selling Internet sites with its domain, has joined the UN, the 188th country. Can you name them all? In alphabetical order?

A site to check out:, which is just what it sounds like.

Wednesday, July 28, 1999

Don't screw with an Englishman's tea

China celebrates the end of the century by organizing a book-burning.

Sydney, Australia is to open a legal heroin-injecting room. It will be run by nuns. Presumably if you don’t shoot up just right, they rap your knuckles with a ruler.

So this clinical psychologist in Britain is arrested because the police wrongly think he’s involved in an attempted bombing. After six years of legal action, the jury refuses to award him £500,000 for unlawful arrest and imprisonment, but does give him £100 for two tea bags the cops used in his house and some washing-up liquid (evidently British cops wash up after themselves).

Tuesday, July 27, 1999

Tom Lehrer was right; satire is dead. Yesterday I was joking about China insisting that Taiwan is an isthmus. Today, it was insisting that the temperature in Beijing was 104 instead of 113 (they’d have to send people home if it hit 105).

The Washington Post has been serializing a biography of George Dubya this week, which is rather interesting. Highlights: not being told his sister was sick until she was dead (he was at boarding school), chewing tobacco at the Harvard Business School, dating Tricia Nixon (once), drunkenly challenging his father to a fight, checking the “I do not volunteer to go to Vietnam” box when joining the Texas National Guard. Today (Wednesday, that is) focuses on his military record. My favorite sentence is that the colonel “who twice had himself photographed with Bush said his status [as son of a Congressman] ‘didn’t cut any ice.’” Bush himself of course says that he just wanted to be a pilot, which raises the question, does he have a civilian pilot license today, I mean, if he likes piloting so much? Also, does two years of pilot training mean he was a slow learner? Also, he learned to fly the F-102. Was the son of a Congressman deliberately assigned an obsolete plane due to be retired to make sure he’d never go to Vietnam?

2nd favorite story from the Onion today, “Dog Urine Lowers Heart-Attack Risk, say Snickering Researchers.” My favorite follows:

The Onion * 28 July 1999

Focus On Language

NEW YORK--According to a report released Monday by the Modern Language Association, speakers of the Star Trek-based Klingon language outnumber individuals fluent in Navajo by a margin of more than seven-to-one. ...

Monday, July 26, 1999

South America is gradually turning back into banana republic land. Venezuela just elected a Constitutional Assembly that will give Hugo “I am Venezuela” Chavez the authority to take all power into his hands and secure a second term. That will make Venezuela the third country down there, after Peru and Bolivia, to actually vote in a dictator knowing full well what they were getting.

Evidently kings in Morocco are supposed to be married, so the new king quickly got himself engaged right before going to dad’s funeral.

It didn’t make it into the newspapers at the time, but the police in Hawthorne California, last year shot a guy 106 times. Unlike the guy in NY this year, he was at least armed (with an air pistol), but like NY, the more frightening fact is how many of the bullets missed. One went through several walls and came to rest two blocks away on the bed of a teenage girl. We have to take these over-powered guns away from the cops.

The Burmese have arrested a dissident, a girl aged three, whose father they failed to catch.

If we’re going to have armageddon before the end of the year and make all those Christians happy, it’s likely to come out of Asia. US satellite information said back in May that India was making preparations to invade Pakistan over the Kashmir issue, and of course both those countries are nuclear powers. China today claimed the ability to fire a ballistic missile from nuclear submarines and directly threatened any country that comes to the aid of Taiwan, which not only hasn’t taken back last week’s declaration that it is a nation, but is rumored to be planning another announcement to the effect that it is an island. China, which insists that Taiwan is an isthmus, has threatened massive nuclear bombardment. And North Korea is about to test a missile. On the positive front, the US has decided to forgive Vietnam and normalize trade relations.

Saturday, July 24, 1999

Who says academics aren't practical?

So the Pentagon has taken to ignoring the whole appropriations process and just spending any damned money it feels like. See, it’s that wasteful bureaucracy (i.e., Congress) that makes everything so expensive, like that Comanche helicopter they’ve stuck so much crap on that it can’t actually get off the ground.

Environmentalist extraordinaire Al Gore appears for a photo op on the Connecticut river in New Hampshire, and to make sure that his boat was stable they opened the dam sluices, released 4 billion gallons of water and raised the river 10 inches. In an area with drought warnings.

An interesting letter to the NY Times about last week’s Religious Freedom Act or whatever it was called that prevents the state putting an undue burden on religious practice (I mentioned this when it passed the House). The letter-writer says that if a Christian denies her a job because she’s a lesbian, she must have the right to go into court and say that Christianity doesn’t actually justify discrimination, and isn’t that just the sort of argument that shouldn’t take place in a court of law. Well, unless they accept that *my* religion (Zen Odin-worship) permits me to break the speed limit and never pay taxes or anything else I damned well want, then religion itself must be evaluated by courts of law. Good luck.

A guy who graduated from the University of Leicester with an MA (or MSc depending on which British paper you read) in criminology, the next day held up a building society. The manager gave chase and disarmed him (actually the gun was a fake, but the manager didn’t know that) by kicking him in the bollocks. He was sentenced to life today. If anybody has any connections in Leicester, I want to know what this guy’s thesis was on.

Tuesday, July 20, 1999

Castro sues US for the 637 assassination attempts against him. And those are just the ones *he* knows about!

Last week the California prison guards’ union spent enough in campaign contributions to defeat a bill to remove the ability to prosecute prison guards from the counties to the state attorney general. Several county DA’s have said that their offices don’t have the resources to penetrate the wall of silence. The poor schmuck who was DA of King County, home of Corcoran with its gladiator games and weekly shootings, only got one brutality case to court, whereupon the union poured a fortune into his opponent’s campaign funds and turned him out of office. Of the many unjustified shootings, none has resulted in a prosecution in the last decade.

Welsh devolution is beginning to go a little weird. Druids from Brittany want British citizenship because of French discrimination against Celtics. Others moving into Wales: the KKK, which is suddenly quite big. Wales is as ethnically diverse as Minnesota, which is why the Klan thinks it can create ethnic no-go areas. Previously, the only sign of ethnic conflict was that an awful lot of weekend homes owned by Londoners tended to have mysterious fires.

Rio de Janero drivers are allowed to run red lights at night, given the recent spurt of carjackings.

Israeli PM Barak is in the US to declare that after a few thousand years of hostilities, he’s setting a deadline of 15 months in which to create everlasting peace. Also, he wants to buy 50 fighter-bombers.

After being missing a few centuries, Dante’s ashes turned up in a library.

Kelantan, the only strictly Islamist state in Malaysia, has ordered its civil service not to hire any pretty women.

In 1944, the US had a plan to exchange German nationals who had been in Latin America for Jews with South American passports in concentration camps. Foreign Minister and later PM Anthony Eden vetoed it, as he was afraid the Jews would go to Palestine.

Friday, July 16, 1999


I’m reliably informed that a new word in the English language connotes people who reinvent themselves to appeal to the crowd, as for example Hillary Clinton. The word is “panderella”. Use it in a sentence today.

On the other hand, not everyone is so flexible. Monica Lewinsky’s latest boyfriend is trying to break up with her, but she keeps showing up at his office, bringing unwanted gifts, etc etc.

George Dubbya’s refusal to accept federal funds and spending limits means, according to the papers, that after the primaries are over, he’ll have tons of money and Gore will be broke. Horse puckey! The same thing was said about Dole in 96, when he was supposed to have gone broke defeating Forbes. Gore will a) use soft money, b) break the law. Everyone does it. It was recommended by FEC staff that both the Dole and Clinton campaigns be heavily fined after 1996 for their violations, but the FEC is toothless and it never happened. If it does, what do they care? If they default on the fine, they ain’t going to jail, and if they become president, they’ll have plenty of money.

Gray Davis wants the UC and CalState systems to require community service for graduation. I recommend that UCLA students go to the poor parts of LA to teach literacy to the disadvantaged USC students. CalState Humboldt students can unionize the workers on the vast marijuana fields. I could go on all day. Any suggestions for what, say, UCSC students could do? All entries must be in by August 8th, void where prohibited.

New laws: South Carolina has banned the sale of urine. Maryland students caught making bombs will lose their driving licenses (if they can’t drive, then they convert that car into a mighty fine explosive device, no?). Georgia has legalized public breast-feeding. And a judge in Alabama has struck down the law against vibrators [You’ll get my vibrator when you pry it from my cold]

Thursday, July 15, 1999

One of those military grunts they stick at the bottom of a missile silo with his finger on the button of a Minuteman missile is a Catholic with a serious complaint: they’re letting girls in. He is suing so that he doesn’t have to be stuck in a small space with women. I don’t imagine he’d be a lot of fun in the fallout shelter either.

The 11th Circuit says that it is ok to have student prayers on school PA systems. The 11th Circuit is wrong.

Congress passes 306-118 a religious rights bill that will probably lead to as many idiocies as it solves. One of my favorite of the latter: a Penn. town that refused zoning permission to an Orthodox temple because it didn’t have a parking lot. Orthodox Jews, of course, being famous for driving to temple on a Saturday. Then the temple said it would build a parking lot, and was again turned down, because it would create traffic jams. As stupid as that is, the bill will eliminate the ability of locals to apply zoning regulations to churches at all, which isn’t right either.

Teenager logic: there is a 15-year old in England who would rather die than have a heart transplant, because that would make her “different from other people.” A court ordered the transplant anyway.

I’d like to see a State department official tied to a chair and be made to explain the logic of the One China policy. It seems to boil down to, “Don’t fuck with the Chinese, they’re crazy”, but so are the Serbs and pretty much everyone else in the world except the boring old Swedes. I personally don’t think the Chinese are quite as thin-skinned as they pretend to be, and that they’re just pulling Nixon’s old “mad bomber” tactic, successfully, on the rest of the world. The US is still apologizing for bombing its embassy in Belgrade, which I’d have stopped after the tenth kow-tow on the general principle that there is a limit to how many times the Chinese should be allowed to call us liars and still be treated as the victim. Speaking of crazy Chinese, today they responded to Taiwan’s announcement by proclaiming that they now have the neutron bomb, indicating that they want to re-unify with Taiwan but don’t particularly care if there are any Taiwanese left when they do it.

There is going on, on the beaches of the German Baltic, what the Times (or the Telegraph?) call a new cold war, between nudists from the old East Germany--who knew? but evidently there grew up quite a nudist culture in the bad old days--and the West German tourists who are trying to take over the vacation spots of the old East, and are prudes. Naked Germans, let that be the last thought before you go to sleep tonight and see what sort of dreams you have.

Wednesday, July 14, 1999

The US has gotten WTO permission to put sanctions on Europe for not taking our hormone-stuffed beef. The Europeans are cranky at having American chemistry experiments shoved down their throats (of course, when my mother was taken off hormones in May, she got pretty cranky too, so maybe that explains it). Personally, I’d allow the stuff, but with the biggest, gaudiest warning labels, with pictures of test tubes and skull-and-crossboneses. Next up: genetically modified foods, something which bothers the Americans so little that the FDA doesn’t even test the stuff, just asks the companies to promise nicely that they are safe.

Almost along the same lines, see today’s Molly Ivins column on the US pressure campaign on African countries not to make generic versions of the American-developed AIDS drugs they can’t afford to buy (although they can get them if they don’t mind being guinea pigs for untested drugs).

So George Dubya bought and sold a house never noticing the covenant that only allows white people to live it in (except for servants, who can be any race). It’s that attention to details that he plans to bring to the White House.

Senator Bob Smith drops out of the Republican party for purposes of the presidential elections but expects to keep all his senatorial committee assignments. It seems to me that if you quit a party, you quit a party. He may run under the Taxpayers’ Party, a party of people who don’t want to be taxpayers.

The Northern Irish peace plan collapsed, as I long predicted. Some day I’ll predict doom and be wrong; won’t my face be red then!

Aaran Lapin, the inventor of Reddi-wip, dies. Whipped cream in a spray can, the man was a genius I tell you, a genius!

Sunday, July 11, 1999

A woman Clinton didn’t have sex with! Maybe!

Well, the DNA tests say that little Danny Williams still doesn’t have a father. So were the big papers justified in never mentioning the story? Well, until the tests came in, it was just he said/she said, same as Paula Jones, same as Anita Hill.

Paul Wellstone says that he can’t run for president after all, because he has a bad back. Hey buddy, so did John F. Kennedy! It seems an odd reason not to run (or would seem so, if I didn’t have a bad back myself), but if we look back to what I said about John Ashcroft last week, I’ll bet the bad back line is a tactical move to defuse his decision being attributed to an overly active sex life. Not that that stopped JFK in that department either. Wimp!

At least with Elizabeth Dole, who is now the Republican front-runner by the way, Congress can keep her on a leash by threatening to ban Viagra.

Thursday, July 08, 1999

Florida tried out its new electric chair. It didn’t set anyone on fire this time, but the guy (who went from wheelchair to electric chair) did have a major nosebleed. Oh, and he died.

The Washington Post says that oral sex is really big among 13-yr olds and up in this country right now.

NY Times headline: “Corpse is Found on Whale”. If they’d added “naked corpse,” which the guy was, it would have been even more interesting.

Clinton is the first president to visit a reservation since 1936.

So George Dubya used his dad’s influence to get into a National Guard unit he was hopelessly unqualified for. Of course almost none of his opponents went to Vietnam either, and some like Gary Bauer still haven’t put together a story to explain it. I can’t wait. Pat Robertson had a bad knee, didn’t he? Bradley had to play basketball. Quayle & Forbes were also in the Guard. And Orrin Hatch was exempt from WW2 because a brother died.

Russian troops are finally allowed into Kosovo. In a compromise that has the smell of Clinton all over it, they will be under NATO command, but they won’t actually have to follow any orders they don’t like. A lot like the position of the presidential candidates in relation to Vietnam.

Saturday, July 03, 1999

A tabloid newspaper I saw on line in Safeway (I was on line, not the newspaper) said that John the Baptist’s severed head has been discovered after 2,000 years. I didn’t read the story, but I’m betting it’s been in a college dorm somewhere, made into a bong.

I said the Northern Ireland peace deal would fail, and it has, but no one really feels like going back to war either. It’s foundering on the fact that Sinn Fein has to pretend that it doesn’t speak for the IRA, while the Unionists say that an agreement with SF is silly if they don’t. They’re basically waiting until they can find some form of words by which SF will guarantee decommissioning, at which point they can say “Ha, we knew it all along, you are all just a bunch of terrorists.” Sheesh.

The pusillanimity of the American press is boundless. Both the NY Times and the Washington Post mention that the bald eagle is off the endangered species list, McNeil-Lehrer even showed film of the photo op, but no one even mentioned, much less showed, the eagle biting Clinton on the hand.

Also, in the obits of former Tory party grandee and adviser to Margaret Thatcher, the Viscount Willie Whitelaw, all the British papers, but not the NY Times, quoted Thatcher saying of him, “Every prime minister needs a Willie.”

Privatizing Medicare has worked wonderfully, hasn’t it? I mean, the whole future of the program collapsed this week, but all the reporters are on holiday or something. The HMOs that are supposed to run this program for us just threw 250,000 old people out of their plans and raised the premiums on the rest enough to force many more out.

Speaking of which, Blue Cross just raised my premiums by 1/8. Do you *know* how sick I’ll have to get this year to make sure that they don’t make any money off me?

Another under-reported story: the Indonesian military, disguised as “anti-independence militias,” just terrorized the UN election monitors right out of East Timor. They’ve already forced a postponement from the highly auspicious original date for the referendum of August 8.

The US, displaying that sensitive diplomacy that worked so well in Kosovo, has simply ordered Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania to refuse permission to Russia to fly troops to Kosovo over their airspaces unless it gives in and puts its troops under NATO command. I did say that it was our plan to negotiate their role forever while quietly excluding them.

A lesson for America: New Zealand has a rating and censorship system for computer and video games, so there are all these censors sitting in rooms trying to figure out how to get into Level 8 to see if there’s anything objectionable there.