Sunday, January 30, 2000

In case the sanctions on Iraq weren't beginning to look silly enough, a bunch of Jordanians (I believe) have brought a bunch of pencils to the border in violation of the sanctions (graphite can be used in military applications). Not Gandhi making salt, but a pretty effective stunt, I thought.

Don't remember if I followed up on the NY psychics thing: as soon as it was found out, they stopped it, of course.

Saturday, January 29, 2000

A NY Times letter suggests Elian should stay in the US so that he can receive all the therapy he'll need for what's been inflicted on him by his Miami relatives.

Friday, January 28, 2000

Went into my bank the other day and noticed bottles of ketchup at various spots along the counter. I had to ask, even knowing that the answer was going to be stupid. I was told that it was to advertise loans so that one might "catch up" on one's bills. Even stupider feeling than me for asking: the guy who had to repeat that 30 times a day. Stupider still: the person who came up with the idea. Stupider still: the person who bought the ketchup, because they bought a brand that calls it catsup, ruining the whole pun.

A British MP is stabbed with a samurai sword.

The New York Times today broke, on page 1 yet, a story about the city putting welfare recipients to work as telephone psychics. If they're not already clairvoyant, they are given intensive training.

Speaking of stupid banking ideas, the state bank of Zimbabwe had an idea of having a lottery, every month, in which they'd give away money to owners of accounts, with extra tickets going for each, oh say $5,000, in those accounts. The first winner: President Mugabe, who no doubt owns half the money in the banks.

And no, I'm not making up the welfare psychic thing.

Tuesday, January 25, 2000

George Burns ran into Lilian Gish one day. "I thought we were dead," he said.

Dubya says he is humbled by the vote in Iowa. He said it with a smirk, although a smaller one than usual. In four years, we could really get sick of that smirk.

The Supreme Court, in one of the spectacularly idiotic rulings it has been making this month, 5-4, says that redistricting conducted with a discriminatory intent is ok, so long as the minority voters are not put in a worse position.

In Britain a private members' bill to guarantee the right of parents to smack their children failed by a majority of 70.

Evidently Gary Bauer had a fundraiser at the home of the McCaughey septuplets. Have yourself photographed with a sept, only $250. Weird weird weird. I suppose this is the Christian right's idea of the ideal American family, after we get rid of that pesky Roe v. Wade. What next? Alan Keyes holding a fundraiser at a freak show? For $500, get a picture of yourself standing next to the candidate as he bites the head off a live chicken.

Alan Keyes says his favorite movie is Star Trek: Insurrection. Trust him to like one of the odd-numbered movies (in-joke for Trekkies, you know who you are).

Every day brings in new evidence of Americans' inability to reason from the specific to the general (or induction, as we college-types call it). Some idiot legislator from somewhere was on McNeil-Lehrer (I was listening on the car radio, sorry for the lack of specificity) talking about the need to grant Elian Gonzales citizenship so as to remove his case from the jurisdiction of the INS into that of the courts. What do you want to bet she's one of those behind that awful immigration bill that removed to a large extent INS decisions from the oversight of the courts? Suddenly the INS are being portrayed by the right wing as the same jack-booted thugs as the ATF and the FBI. But only in the case of this one brown-skinned type.

Speaking of racists, there goes Austria again. Pay attention to that one it could get nasty.

Monday, January 24, 2000

Bushisms / finger shots

One of those creepy 107-year old Japanese twins died. Aren't they the ones who used to call Mothra?

Letter in the Sunday NY Times about Microsoft's market value now equaling Spain's GDP: "Hey, I've been to Spain. Windows 98 works better."

So the Chechens didn't really capture that general after all. What's the point of even making up an easily checkable lie? At least when the US military lied about the performance of Patriot missiles or Sudanese chemical plants or who they were killing in Kosovo, it usually took weeks or months to find out, by when it's evidently ancient history (god knows what you call the sort of history I work on).

I'd been dismayed by the German SPD's incompetence in office, its squabbling and its inability to win a single state election. I figured all those years out of power would take a lot of time in office to overcome, learning the job and so on, and they didn't look like having it. Thank god for financial scandals, huh? The Hesse elections might even have to be re-run since the CDU spent illegal money. And how about Kohl defying the law and his own party, which is threatening to sue him, by citing his "honor." His honor is a pretty small thing to hide behind, and he's such a great big fat thing. The worry, though, is that the CDU could break up or be too badly depressed in subsequent elections, to the benefit of the far-right racist parties.

In my continuing quest to bring you the latest news of Shrub's inability to speak the English language, here are excerpts from the London Times:
Ben Macintyre reports on the mangled messages from the Republican front-runner

GEORGE W. BUSH had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand until suddenly, in the middle of a riff about free trade, he appeared to launch an unprovoked attack on a species of small dog.

The world will be a better place, the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination said, when "all the terriers are torn down".

Mr Bush is also prey to what might be called the jammed compact-disc stutter, when he gets impaled on a single word. "We must all hear the universal call to like your neighbour just like you like to be liked yourself." Then there is the grand word glitch, triggered by his occasional forays into the deeper bits of the dictionary. Three times in two days, Mr Bush said that, if elected, he would never "obsfucate". It is a measure of the Bush charm that when the candidate finds himself up a blind verbal alley being assaulted by his own syntax, he is as amused anyone else.

"Bumble through OK?" he grins.

After more than seven years of syntactical precision by Bill Clinton, it is refreshing to have the Bush-isms back, and a candidate who does not obsfucate but say things how they are is.

Friday, January 21, 2000

The Supreme Court rules that it's ok for judges not to clarify their instructions when the jury asks. Why on earth don't these juries just refuse to come to a verdict rather than say, oh well, I guess we should vote for the death penalty just to be sure

The Chinese are holding Falun Gong members in psychiatric hospitals.

A doctor in NY is being sued by a woman for carving his initials on her stomach after a caesarian.

Dan Burton will hold hearings in LA on stuff the Soviet Union did during the Cold War. He says it's because some of the stuff happened in California so CA will want to hear about it. However, most of the hearings will of necessity be behind closed doors. And all those federal employees will have to be flown to the coast to testify. But at least Burton will get a free plane ride to California so he can play in the Bob Hope Classic at Palm Springs.

The Bush campaign is accusing the Forbes campaign of doctoring a photo of Shrub in an ad, to make his ears look funny.

Quote of the week: "These people [refugees from Russian bombing] used to live in a great country where no one asked them if they were Chechen or Ingush or Dagestani," Russia's Deputy Energy Minister, Khodzh-ahmed Arsanov, said. "Everything we're doing now for them is free - the gas, the electricity. The bombing is free too, but we have to find the money for that from other budgets."

Thursday, January 20, 2000

There are now 1.2 billion under-nourished people in the world, and 1.2 billion fatties.

The Supreme Court upheld segregation of prisoners with HIV, including exclusion from religious services and educational and work programs that reduce prison time.

See article in Slate on the arguments in a case about the no-protest zones around abortion clinics.

Monday, January 17, 2000

Rumor has it that Chechen rebels are paying the Russian army not to bomb certain towns.

The D's have a Bush Stump Speech Search Engine, to show how scripted and repetitious he is. He's never once mentioned cocaine.

An op-ed piece in today's NY Times captures what is most obnoxious about the Elian Gonzales thing with an apt comparison to the wholesale removal of Amerind children from their parents earlier this century on the theory that the government could do a better job than dirty Injuns. Which may be the case with Elian's mother, who subjected her kid to the worst form of child endangerment, but you know what I mean.

Sunday, January 16, 2000

Washington Post says that after the invasion of Grenada, the US found Maurice Bishop's body and had it secretly buried to prevent it being a rallying point.

Whenever British Home Secretary Jack Straw decides to release Pinochet, the Chileans will try to race him to the airport before the Crown Prosecution Service can file its appeal. Worse, Straw's decision is based on medical tests he will not release, or even say what is supposed to be wrong with Pinochet. And the head of the medical team just came out and said that they were misrepresented by Straw.

Y'all remember that state prosecutor in Moscow, investigating Yeltsin family corruption, of whom possibly faked videos, naked and with teenage prostitutes, were aired on state tv? The man in charge of that particular operation, which was blackmail at the very best, was Vladimir Putin. The prosecutor has a book coming out shortly.

Those suspicious apartment bombings were also probably Putin's doing, one month after he got the KGB job. This past week they just found three more explosive devices, right about the time the media started getting critical of the stalled war.

Friday, January 14, 2000

Salon says that the Drug Kaiser actively hid his office's subsidizing of anti-drug messages on tv from congress. And that it's almost definitely illegal to run those programs without disclosure under the 1950s payola laws, that require the "Ted Koppel's shoes were provided by Hush Puppies" disclosures.

Last night on Nightline, they were discussing Elian Gonzales with his father. "When Elian comes home, will you allow him to bring that puppy?" "Yes, he looks delicious." My favorite Bad Transition moment was that right after the line "And then things got ugly", or something like that, they switched to the image of Janet Reno.

Wednesday, January 12, 2000

This morning Chris called me up to tell me to watch Jerry Springer. They had midget KKK members on. In the upper left corner there was a little box that said "exclusive." I should bloody well hope so. This provoked a theological debate, with Chris saying that America would be punished for this program, while I said that this was the punishment for some past misdeed, possibly the genocide of the Amerinds.

Speaking of midget KKK members, the Republican party in South Carolina, which evidently pays for and administers its own primary (the New York Times thinks that SC is the only state where primaries are run by the parties, but didn't bother to do the research), is not bothering to have many polling stations in black precincts.

In Britain, a professional footballer is playing wearing one of those prison monitoring ankle bracelets.

From the obits page comes news that Bob McFadden, the voice of the parrot who said "Ring around the collar" in those 1970s commercials you all remember no matter how much you drink to block out the memory, has died at 76.

An interesting article in Salon. In 1997 Congress authorized a 5-year, $1 billion buy of tv commercial time for anti-drug messages. Part of the deal was that it would pay half price. As the economy improved and all those dot.coms started advertising, the networks wanted to get out of the deal, so the office of the Drug Tsar is letting them buy their way out by negotiating insertions of anti-drug messages into programs. This is not just on the little shows, and it is all the networks, and the Drug Caesar is literally negotiating script changes, as in, a story line on Beverly Hills 90210 is worth $500,000-750,000. This is evil, and must be stopped.

Tuesday, January 11, 2000

First, I want to announce that I have been bought out by My next e-mail will concern the need to eliminate the capital gains tax.

Taking advantage of Gore's sloppy language on "litmus tests" on gays in the military for appointments to the Joint Chiefs of Staff (and by the way isn't Joint Chiefs of Staff the most homoerotic name of any government organization?), when it should have been obvious to everyone that all he meant was that his appointments should carry out his policies, the Republican National Committee is running commercials attacking him saying "The only litmus test ought to be patriotism." In future on-line dictionaries--doubtless sponsored by my new sponsor, the media giant which I understand celebrated the deal by putting the names of all the executives involved into a hat, and whoever's name was picked out got to go home with Jane Fonda--under the word "irony" there will be a link to that commercial.

Monday, January 10, 2000

A German newspaper says that Vladimir Putin was expelled from West Germany for spying in the 1970s, when he was pretending to be a Tass reporter.

4 debates down, 1,996 to go. At last Friday's debate, Gary Bauer was asked the question that tripped up Dan Quayle, about what he'd tell a family member who had been raped and got pregnant, and wanted an abortion. Fortunately, it seems that it wouldn't arise, because under a Bauer presidency, there would be no rape. Yes, he actually said that.

Stupid criminal of the week, so far: the guy who robbed a bank in Connecticut and was caught behind the bank, where he'd stopped to count his money.

At a performance of Aida in Italy, the lead tenor's flu made it impossible for him to continue half-way through, so they called up someone sitting in the audience, another tenor I hadn't heard of either, who finished it. Is there a tenor in the house?

China has banned the perfume Opium, because it encourages spiritual pollution and reminds them of their humiliating defeat in the Opium Wars.

Saturday, January 08, 2000

911 calls of the week: actually 999 in Britain, where a woman watching wrestling on telly called the police because the one she supported was losing. And god knows what they dial in Denmark, but someone there set off a whole sea rescue operation, although it seems it was his toy boat that sank in the bath tub. Alcohol is believed to have been involved in that one.

During the funeral for Jordan's King Hussein, there was a joint Israeli-Jordanian secret service operation to collect Syrian President Assad's pee to find out how sick he was.

A document released under Britain's 30-year rule suggests that the Cold War actually came to an end right after the invasion of Prague in 1968. Russia was contemplating following up with an invasion of Romania, where Ceaucescu had criticized the Czech invasion. Had it done so, Yugoslavia would have defended Romania, Britain would have defended Yugoslavia, and god knows where it would have ended.

Florida speeds up its death penalty appeals process, with an eye to reducing the time spent on death row to 5 years. Of the 87 people released from death row, and prison, since 1973 because of innocence, the average stay on death row was 7 1/2 years. In the words of Jeb Bush's death penalty adviser, "let's rock and roll!"

If the reporters won't hound Dubya about his cocaine use (and a reporter who asked a seemingly innocuous question at yesterday's debate, what their biggest mistake of their adult life was and what did they learn from it, was roundly booed), they should make him say who he thinks goes to heaven. He refused to exactly say that non-Christians don't, but it was clearly what he thought. I think voters should know what he thinks of them.

Asisi bans feeding the pigeons.

What on earth is going on in Chechnya?

Misuse of power of the week: Rep Dan Burton for subpoenaing Elian Gonzales. I think he should be made to carry it through and actually call the kid to the stand. What could he ask him, who his favorite power ranger is?

Friday, January 07, 2000

A weird lite news day. This is an edited-down version of the table of contents to the Daily Telegraph's international section.

[21]War crimes suspect met by protests in Australia
KONRAD KALEJS, the suspected Nazi war criminal, returned to Australia
from Britain yesterday amid angry protests by Jewish students
demanding further investigations into allegations against him.
[did anyone catch the I think justice minister of Australia saying that they wouldn’t put him on trial because Australia doesn't do "show trials"? Incidentally, I don't think a Latvian should be called a Nazi war criminal, since he's unlikely to have been a member of the party.]

[24]Internet threat to Israel, say rabbis
ISRAEL'S leading orthodox rabbis have issued a ruling banning the
internet from Jewish homes, arguing that it is "1,000 times more
dangerous than television" and threatens the survival of the country.

[27]Head of foot cult is stepping down
THE leader of a Japanese cult who read his followers' fortunes in the
soles of their feet said yesterday that he was resigning on advice
from God.

[28]Bungee ride rebounds on counsellor
THE screams of thrill-seekers on an inner-city bungee ride are proving too much for the patients of a trauma therapist whose consulting rooms are next door.

[29]News in brief
* Rapist and victim, 11, both guilty, says judge
[this was in Maryland--the rapist is 24]
* Red card for women's football
[one of the I believe 3 Nigerian states that have now adopted sharia law finds women's footie to be unIslamic]
* Mob attack after circumcision
[Kenya--the circumcision (male) was performed at a hospital instead of by a witch doctor]
* Farmer kills drunken pigs
[Somewhere Eastern Europe, Bulgaria maybe. He thought they had a horrible disease, but they'd been getting into the waste of a distillery]

Thursday, January 06, 2000

As I write I am watching the hilarious Republican debate. At the start of yesterday's Dem debate, Peter Jennings said "This is the first debate of 2000." So after today, it'll be 2 down, 1,998 to go. Read the Jacob Weisberg report on this debate in Slate, it's hilarious reading.

Alan Keyes is a loon. I don't have anything funny to say about that, it's just sad.

Dubya referred to the little Cuban kid as Alien Gonzales.

The first millennial baby is already undergoing open-heart surgery in New Zealand. Always a good sign.

Wednesday, January 05, 2000

The "Secret Society of Happy People" has announced its holiday, National Admit You're Happy Day.

It's on my fucking birthday.

It is now legal for California drivers not to use hand signals when making turns and stops. You were all using hand signals, weren't you? Besides the obvious one?

In Scranton, a billboard for a shoe store, Shoestrings, the billboard measuring 14 X 48 feet, said on it "Bring in this ad, and you'll get a free pair of shoes." Presumably intended as a joke, but some people did. The store gave them their shoes in exchange for getting the sign back.

A story for former Manhattan Beach residents, who will understand: a gym that opened there this year advertised "Join before 3-7-99 and we will pay your next parking ticket."

Alan Greenspan, economic dictator for life. Why is it that in order to be credible, Democratic presidents have to appoint Republicans to the Supreme Court, Republicans to the Fed and Republicans to head DOD?

So John Anderson will probably be on the California ballot. I might just vote for him, since I was too young to in 1980 (although I was a Barry Commoner fan that year). Of course now he's too old, but what the hell. I'd like to vote for Bill Bradley's wife for First Lady without actually having to vote for Bill Bradley. I think we should get the Constitution amended to allow for this. Of course in 1992 this would have meant that Bill Clinton would have been elected president and Barbara Bush first lady. Sounds like the makings of a sitcom. Oh well, don't mind me, it's way too late at night.

Tuesday, January 04, 2000

Now Barak wants $14 billion in US arms, including cruise missiles, and real-time access to US spy satellites. I don't think the US can afford for there to be peace in the Middle East. Alternately, those countries could just sign a peace deal because peace is good for their countries, without extorting the massive bribes.

Monday, January 03, 2000

So who was it who, out of the goodness of their heart, paid for Linda Tripp's plastic surgery? Off the top of my head I can think of only a few million better causes, but that's me.

Speaking of fatsos, who would have thought Helmut Kohl was corrupt? The president of Israel has also just been found to have taken a rather large bribe.

But on the integrity side, the parents of Britain's millennium baby did not accept the hundreds of thousands of pounds they could have done. They want their baby to have privacy. Some day the kid will look back and become deeply depressed.

The political games-playing re Elian whatsis, the Cuban boy, goes on. All 6 Republican candidates support his being kept in the US. The Clinton admin wants to make it go away without their ever having to take an actual decision, by getting the father to come to the US, at which point he has the legal right to leave the country with his son. Your mother has just died in front of you and you were found floating in an ocean, what will you do now? I'm going to Disney World! If he were Haitian he'd have been expelled as an illegal alien long since.

As part of the peace deal, if it ever comes, Syria wants to be removed from the US list of states which sponsor terrorism.

Dubya has presided over 113 executions. In the week following the Iowa primaries he is scheduled to execute 3 who were 17. Guess what else they all have in common? If you said, they are black, pat yourself on the back for your excellent understanding of the judicial system.

The Clinton Admin is calling on the Supreme Court not to hear an appeal of the discrimination in Alabama prisons (and others) against HIV-positive prisoners, who are barred from educational and religious and recreational programs, including work-release programs which would get them out of prison faster.

Sunday, January 02, 2000

All those British couples competing to have the first kid of the millennium minus one and have it be on tv and stuff, and who wins but a premie. Actually I think they fixed it and that a black kid really won. Also in the running, someone who not only wasn't competing but didn't know she was pregnant.

Other millennial freaks: 3 pairs of twins in America and one in Bulgaria with the kids born in different centuries. First marriage, in New Zealand--televised. First massacre: Natal, South Africa.

On the millennium, the ashes of Graham Chapman of Monty Python were fired on a rocket over a Welsh mountain.

As in Britain, one of the contenders for first millenial baby in Germany was born to a woman who, at 11:30, didn't know she was baby, felt a pain, went to the hospital, and had the baby 15 seconds after midnight. But the probable winner was an unmarried 18-year old.

Some idiot who has officially changed his name to DotComGuy will live off of the Internet for the next year in Dallas. You can watch him on the web, assuming you have even less of a life than he does.

Saturday, January 01, 2000

Australia and New Zealand are currently battling it out over who has the millennium baby.

Personally, at midnight I was watching a discussion over the future of Britain and the EU on C-SPAN, if anyone was wondering.

I got the first newspaper with the year 2000 on it and, as I was afraid, it just looks fake, not like a real year at all, rather like the new twenty-dollar bills.