Wednesday, March 31, 1999

...but it just might work!

NATO destroys a Yugoslav vacuum cleaner factory, hoping that Milosevic will be brought to his knees by dust bunnies.
-Yugoslavia, fighting back at last, brings the NATO public relations website to its knees.
-Russia plans to send a spyship to help Serbs kill NATO military personnel.
-All those zillions of dollars in defense spending, and now we’re actually running out of cruise missiles.
-Not that we’ve done anything useful with the ones we’ve already used. Beyond the vacuum cleaners, we’ve mostly destroyed planes and anti-aircraft sites. In other words, covering our own asses and not doing a thing for the Kosovars, who are not being bombed by those planes and have no aircraft for those anti-aircraft sites to be targeting.
-The Serbs have been destroying Albanians’ passports, birth certificate, marriage certificates, etc in preparation for refusing to let the refugees back into the country. That can’t be allowed to happen, so NATO just inherited another task. Of course, it would be made much easier if we simply tacked Kosovo onto Albania. No border, no problem.
-So the bombing didn’t work, but when does it ever? Well, once... What was Clinton thinking when he ruled out ground forces? His only idea was to get in quick, bomb, get out quick. I swear the man puts no more thought into the consequences of bombing someone than of getting a blowjob.

Tuesday, March 30, 1999

The president of Iran postpones a visit to France because the French refuse to have a state dinner without wine.

First Russia cancelled the Monica trip, now the Kiss (the rock group) tour. This war thing is turning out pretty well for them.

Stupid Internet idea of the day. Some guy has a site at which you can see daily pictures of his left nipple. It has an archive. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I don’t think a similar site featuring a woman’s nipple would be all that interesting either.

Saturday, March 27, 1999


Oddest start of a news story: “Russia’s rage over NATO air strikes in Yugoslavia boiled over tonight when it canceled the upcoming visit by Monica Lewnisky.”

Serb tv has been running Wag the Dog over and over, like Iraq tv did a few months ago. Oooo, copyright infringement, now we’re really mad.

Quayle says that if Al Gore created the Internet, he invented the spell-check.

For Tom Lehrer fans, the diaries of Alma Mahler-Werful-etcetera have come out.

Best name for a book, the former Labour leader Michael Foot’s newish “Dr. Strangelove, I Presume?”

“Los Angeles is just New York lying down.” Quentin Crisp

That guy freed from death row & prison by a journalism class is back in jail for hitting his daughter & her mother.

Thursday, March 25, 1999

The return of some old friends

The Axis is back. The Luftwaffe is back in combat for the first time since 1945, and so is Japan, which fired on North Korean spy ships, both in the same day. And today saw the largest air strike in Europe since, what, Dresden? So we have the best of both sides of World War II. And we call it NATO. Now sometime in the last few years, NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has gotten the ability to decide to invade whole countries. If NATO weren’t a tool of the US, that would actually be frightening, since I don’t recall voting for any elections to NATO or in any way giving up that sort of sovereignty to it. Clinton gave another truly crappy speech in support of his little war (by the way, have we stopped bombing Iraq this week so that we can bomb Serbia, or Kosovo, or whoever it is we’re bombing?) He evoked the possibility of a wider Balkans war, which if it hasn’t happened by now, won’t. He said something about leaving a stable Europe to our children. Evidently in his will, he’s leaving Luxembourg to Chelsea. And the Netherlands if she promises not to inhale. He said that we’ll bomb but we won’t send troops. Hey, even if Milosevic suddenly signs the peace accord we stuck under his nose, does Clinton think no peacekeepers will be required? And that’s best-case. If Milosevic doesn’t surrender, we literally have no plan. Clinton is talking about restoring Kosovo’s autonomy, but that was autonomy within Yugoslavia which doesn’t really, ya know, exist. Autonomy within Serbia is meaningless. If we can send troops into a country whose only mischief even we define as domestic, then we can by the same principles decide to dismember that country and declare Kosovo independent, which is the only thing that makes any sense (unless you own a map, when you notice that Kosovo would be surrounded by Serbia). Find a principle, almost any principle at this point, and stick to it.

It’s a wonderful coincidence that the Law Lords released their, for lack of a better word, decision on Pinochet today, given that dictators the world over must have been paying attention. They said he could only be extradited to Spain on 3 of the 35 charges. Although I don’t see anything in the world stopping Spain reinstating the other 32 when they get their hands on him, in a minimum of a year.

The first baby produced by sperm taken from a dead man is born. Yick.

Paraguay impeaches its president. Keep an eye on that one.

A study shows that people looking at crappy video, like security video such as is used in court all the time, or those cameras they’re sticking in city centres, produce images that people can’t match up accurately to mug shots more than 70% of the time. If they see people they know on video, it’s 100%, strangers, not so good. If the head is turned or the guy’s smiling, no chnce at all. It suggests that people are going to jail on the basis of what’s supposed to be objective evidence, but isn’t.

As I said, the Axis is back. Come to think of it, an Italian just became president of Europe today as well.

Wednesday, March 24, 1999

I was wondering when J.C. Watts would have to say something about his colleagues’ connections with a racist group, and this week he’s been busily heading off an attempt in Congress to condemn the CCC (that’s pronounced as a hard C, if you know what I mean) and replace it with a measure condemning all forms of bigotry everywhere in general but nowhere in specific. My problem here is that I think the attempt by Congress to condemn the views of anyone is dangerous to the Constitution.

Russia’s prime minister refused to come to the US because we’re about to bomb Serbia, we really mean it this time. He stands on the high moral ground of someone just caught trying to smuggle MIGs to Serbia.

Amusingly, Russia was stopped in this endeavour by Azerbaijan.

Paraguay seems to be in the early stages of a military coup, if I read my tea leaves correctly.

Saturday, March 20, 1999

Another sign of age: two grey nose hairs.

On the other hand, when I passed the local school walking home from the library, the crossing guard helped me across the street.

Friday, March 19, 1999

Miscarriage of justice of the week

And wouldn’t you know it’s in Texas.

But speaking of injustice, George Bush has actually beaten Reagan’s record for suspiciously overpaid speaking tours of Japan, having been paid in stock for a single speech last year, stock now worth $14.4 million, or $4,000 a word, which is more than even Stephen King makes. At least he didnt’ throw up on anyone.

Sweden, in a burst of rationality unknown to the rest of the world, has decided that since no one’s likely to invade it, it can cut its military budget in half.

After 30 Free Years, Man Faces Life for 2 Grams of Drug
By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 20, 1999

Thursday, March 18, 1999

In the Susan McDougal trial, the Starr people take the rather unusual step of calling one of their own grand jurors as a witness, to say that Starr wasn’t out to get anyone, he just wanted the facts, ma’m. The trial then broke for lunch, during which the juror could be seen indicting his ham sandwich for obstruction of justice.

The New York Times has recently added a world summary column in which the boring countries of the world get about two sentences each (sigh), but they still don’t have the space for an odd little story out of Egypt in which a charity is accused of selling orphans for spare parts. In a world less inured to horror stories, this might have made the front page instead of “NFL Backs Limited Replay After Complaints of Bad Calls”, but there you are. The charity took charge of 32 orphans. Shortly after, 25 were dead. Now there is a possibility that the organ transplant thing was made up by Islamists trying to derail a bill to legalize organ transplants, and the government certainly denies that anything of the sort happened. But they would, wouldn’t they? And the death certificates have consecutive numbers, which is more than a little suspicious.

Paul Wellstone, Patrick Leahy and Richard Durbin, the last 3 sane voices in the US Senate, voted against Star Wars. Buoyed by the fact that last week a Star Wars test actually succeeded (presumably on the same principle that a stopped clock is right twice a day, and 80% of American VCRs as well) after 3,000 consecutive failures. How long does a really stupid idea have to be around before 97 Senators vote for it without blinking an eye? I take it this is aimed at North Korea, whose last citizen should die of starvation well before that eventuality comes about, and China, which means that we are now literally in an arms race with ourself. Two arms races actually, if you count the race between our defense contractors and our spies to see who can sell American technology to the Chinese first.

Thursday, March 11, 1999

Has anyone seen a story that says precisely what was unique about this week’s municipal elections in Qatar? This is not a rhetorical question.

And shows just how slow a news week this is, although Lafontaine’s resignation should make things more interesting. Here is another sure sign of press excitement, from the London Times:
LUCY, David Blunkett’s guide-dog, made parliamentary history yesterday when it was sick on the floor of the House. The rare example of canine weakness came shortly after the Education and Employment Secretary finished a speech on the education provisions in the Budget.

The House voted 398-12 to prevent nursing homes that drop Medicaid participation from shoving the existing Medicaid patients into the snow to make way for private patients paying more money. They are, however, free to make their lives a living hell until they “voluntarily” leave. Who on earth are the 12?

Clarence Thomas testifies to a House committee that the Supreme Court would really like to have minority and women clerks but that the Court is just too darned important to be tinkering around with stuff like equity. He says that when he wants clerks, he asks for the cream. Jokewise, there are two possible ways to go here. One is that it’s probably the sole woman clerk who has to go out for the cream. The other has something to do with pornography.

Some mathematician killjoy with too much computer time figured out how to win at Monopoly. I’d tell you how, but I read the story in one of the British papers, so the streets all have different names. But don’t get the expensive properties, and get the ones near the Jail.

Best obit of the week: Sidney Gottlieb, the former mad scientist of the CIA 1953-73. If it was an exploding cigar or a poisoned handkerchief you wanted, he was your man. He was also in charge of the MK-ULTRA (that’s LSD to you) program, experimenting on countless mental patients and inmates (did anyone see that great Canadian tv-movie on the program that ran on Lifetime a few months ago?) and, by the way, himself. What the London Times obit in tomorrow’s paper says that the NY Times’s Wednesday did not is that the man admitted that everything he did at CIA was a complete failure. None of the attempts to poison Castro or Lumumba or make Castro’s beard fell out ever worked, the LSD stuff was completely pointless. When Gottlieb retired from the CIA, at age 55 or so, he went to India with his wife and ran a leper hospital. Then he tried to start a commune in Virginia, and later ran a hospice, and, quote: “practiced two of his lifelong hobbies, folk dancing and herding goats.” Did I mention he dropped a whole lot of LSD?

Wednesday, March 10, 1999

You know it’s a slow news week when the BBC uses the phrase “emergency banana summit”.

Real news to keep up with: the Northern Ireland was supposed to be established by this week. It hasn’t been.
-The former prime minister of France was acquitted by a rigged jury for manslaughter.
-Um, you did know that the former prime minister of France was being tried for manslaughter, didn’t you?
-Austrian fascists do very very well in a state election.
-Another Austrian fascist gets into Japan without a passport. What, are you going to be the one to tell Arnie no?

Speaking of idiot Germans, two teenagers in southern Germany went into a gas station with stockings over their heads. Naturally, the police were called. But it turned out that they’d just gone in to buy condoms, and were embarrassed.

Sunday, March 07, 1999

The British Labour party, increasingly desperate about the fact that the Scots are not going to vote for them in sheer gratitude at being granted Home Rule, is now campaigning on the claim that the Scottish National Party would slaughter baby seals if it wins power.

When will the Full Monica media blitz be over? I’ll be hiding under my bed until then, and if you knew how long it’s been since I vacuumed down there, you’d know how serious a statement that is. You know, in Norway, the prime minister actually took 2 months off in 1992 because her son committed suicide, and the media never said a word.

The 4th Circuit overturns a 1994 law allowing rape victims to sue on civil rights grounds in federal court. The court said that this really wasn’t what the Constitution meant by “regulating interstate commerce”.

Monica’s abortion: the daddy was the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Readiness. Which I assume means he used a $20,000 condom that didn’t work.

Thursday, March 04, 1999

Road kill and oral sex

According to Molly Ivins, the big issue in the Tennessee legislature is a bill to allow people who run over animals to take them home & eat them without having had a permit.

Saw some of the Monica Lewinsky interview. Barbara Walters asked her if she had no self-esteem at all. I forget if that was before or after she asked Monica to explain what phone sex was. The only difference between Walters and Tripp is that the former told Monica that she was going to ask a lot of ridiculously personal questions and then broadcast the tape to the whole world. If we want to know what phone sex is, we should ask the Israelis to cough up their tape of the Clinton-Lewinsky phone sex. And who would pay $800,000 for a 30 second ad during this broadcast? The new Hugh Grant movie. How appropriate.

Wednesday, March 03, 1999

Quote of the day

“We will continue the battle against Hezbollah because they continue the battle against us.” Netanyahu.

I wonder why Hezbollah continues the battle against them...?

Tuesday, March 02, 1999

There’s an article in the Washington Post today, Tuesday, on the US using UNSCOM as cover for intelligence-gathering that’s rather more detailed than

There’s an article in the Washington Post today, Tuesday, on the US using UNSCOM as cover for intelligence-gathering that’s rather more detailed than anything we’ve seen before and suggests what anyone with a brain cell to all their own already knew, that the US line since being caught us was a complete lie.

I spent part of today in the Graduate Theological Union library (don’t ask). Now in such a library, if a woman at the next microfiche machine keeps talking to herself, wouldn’t you like to her to speak loud enough that you can make it out?

Quote of the day, from John Le Carre:

“We failed to embrace the former Soviet empire. We failed to give them their dignity.

“Instead, there was a shameful expectation on our side, particularly the American side, that if we gave them enough pairs jeans and enough rock music and had McDonald’s there, somehow they would find private enterprise for themselves.

“They didn’t do that. They found crime.”