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.