Monday, July 31, 2000


As I write, and surf, the Republican convention is droning in the background. I should pay more attention to the music introducing the speakers, since someone speaking about education was brought on to the tune of "Don't know much about history". And someone said, and I quote, "Literacy and the Bush family are practically synonymous." To paraphrase a famous quotation, Millie the dog Bush has written more books than W has read.

A Russian company has patented the bottle. Also nails and railroad tracks.

A Lithuanian businessman wants to start a theme park called "Stalin's World", for those nostalgic for good clean Gulag living. Visitors would enter the park in cattle cars. It still sounds like more fun than the mile and a half roller coaster the Japanese just built.

The Washington Post, despite having an article on gay Republicans in today's issue, has still not mentioned Mary Cheney. The NY Times alluded to it, referring to the ABC interview with Lynn Cheney yesterday in which she inned her daughter.

The R platform, by the way , specifically condemns the "gay lifestyle" and supports the ban on gays in the Boy Scouts and in the military.

Friday, July 28, 2000

Obviously I wasn't in the pocket of the NRA

John Tukey, a statistician who seems to have lead a much more interesting professional career than you'd expect from a statistician, and who coined the terms "software" and "bit", died this week.

Congress votes to ban states executing pregnant women, just in case anyone other than Al Gore had a question as to whether that was a good move or not.

Some quotes from the porno team of Bush and Dick (no, I said I wasn't going to do that joke, didn't I?):

Bush: "Secretary Cheney brought people together and helped win a war, which stands in stark contrast to Vice President Al Gore, who tends to divide people to create war." In other words, Gore = Saddam Hussein.

Bush: "Of course I knew his votes. But I also know his record."

Cheney: "this notion that somehow I was opposed to freeing Nelson Mandela is a typical distortion of Al Gore." Well, you voted against a resolution that Mandela should be freed. Where's the distortion?

Cheney on voting against a ban on plastic guns, which even the NRA did not oppose: "Well, obviously I wasn't in the pocket of the NRA."

Thursday, July 27, 2000

You heard it here first?

Dick Cheney's daughter is a lesbian. Like we're not going to have enough "Dick and Bush" jokes as it was.

Nothing on this in the NY Times or the Washington Post, but the British papers all have it, not that it was ever much of a secret, and still less so when Bob Woodward cocquetted at the news on tv a few days ago.

Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Here's a joke you've already heard ten times: Bush-Cheney is the Wizard of Oz ticket, one needs a heart, the other needs a brain.

Cheney is praised as bringing some much-needed gravitas to the campaign, with everyone pretty much ignoring his extreme right-wing record across the board on any issue you care to name. If you don't foam at the mouth or have the uncouthiosity of a Gingrich, you're ok in Mark Shields's book (however, thanks to Shields for reminding us that 25 years ago when Cheney was White House chief of staff, Bush the Younger was snorting coke off a prostitute's ass in a Houston bar. Thus Cheney has become--you will be sick of this observation by the end of the convention--the "babysitter" of a man 4 years younger than himself. Cheney is the adult, Bush has demoted himself to the post of this year's Dan Quayle, where I always said he belonged.

When the pundits say that he chose Cheney from a presidential perspective rather than a campaign perspective, one of the things they mean is that he has given up the option of pretending to be an insurgent outsider storming the Beltway.

By the way, Alan Keyes has dropped out of the race, a stunning development that has completely crowded the Cheney decision, the inevitable failure of Camp David and that cool picture of the Concorde on fire, right off the front pages.

Tuesday, July 25, 2000

Ya gotta have heart

So Shrub did what I told Kevin two days ago he wasn't stupid enough to do, picked Dick Cheney as veep. Consider me corrected as to the level of Boy George's stupidity. In Washington there are already pools on how many times he'll use the word "heart" in his convention speech. You know, Christ changed my heart, don't judge my heart, etc etc. (by the way, read a Monday Washington Post piece about--maybe Sunday--about Bush's form of Christianity. Remember, most of the religious stuff is coded in a language not intended to be understood by people like y'all and me; it helps to have a guide). This will maybe cut down on that language, since they've already sent in the cardiologists to do just that with Cheney. Scott Shuger of Slate asks whether the statement issued by the doctor that Cheney's condition shouldn't affect his campaigning was maybe not getting it the wrong way around from what a doctor is supposed to be saying. And just to kick it off, Bush called him this morning before dawn. There's nothing like the phone ringing when you're sound asleep to jump-start the ol' heart, right? See Slate for Table Talk today about the Cheney nomination, and another piece about what a bitch Lynne Cheney is.

The good news is that it's no longer illegal to say "sorry" in the state of California, or at least to have it held against you in a civil suit. I look forward to hearing it from Albertson's checkers now, since their cash registers over-charged me two out of the last 3 times. I'm a strong believer in the effects of legislation to improve our lives by altering speech. Remember when Proposition 121 banned "Have a nice day"?

Monday, July 24, 2000

Think big

A 67-year old Russian pensioner is being hailed as a hero after shooting a thief who was stealing potatoes from his allotment.

And Swiss authorities would like to talk to the Russian Prime Minister, known as Misha Two Percent, for the misappropriation of $4.8 billion in IMF loans in 1998.

That's a lot of potatoes.

Sunday, July 23, 2000

Message to the Sunday papers: it doesn't count as a restoration of civilian government in Ecuador if the elected president has to leave the country. Come back, El Loco, all is forgiven.

A Chechen rumor that hasn't made the American papers: an actual gunfight earlier this month between the biggest warlord and the defense minister. I believe it was a fight over who hates the Russians more.

Saturday, July 22, 2000

South Africa is to start renaming its major cities. Sigh. Pretoria will be Tshwane, which is pronounced to rhyme with Tshwane, I'm guessing.

NATO is finally capturing Serb war criminals from the Bosnian war, by offering massive bounties which are mostly being paid to Serb war criminals who capture other Serb war criminals.

War is Hellibut: Britain is to compensate trawlermen who lost their livelihoods in the Cod War of the 1970s, in which Iceland kicked their pale butts.

Speaking of old wars, you can now buy a Spitfire. A company started making them, sort of half from scrap from old WW II-era Spitfires and half new, for the anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Now they're selling them to you the punter, for a low low one million pounds or so. Some of the parts can no longer be made in the UK. The propellers, for instance, which were made of can you believe it wood, are made in Germany.

A Koranic scholar has written a book called Women in Islam, recently translated into Spanish, where there is a bit of a furore because it tells Muslims (the book is aimed at Muslims living in non-Muslim societies) how to disguise their wife-beating. For the record, wife-beating was legal under Franco.

Friday, July 21, 2000

Putting education somewhere in the top 3, or so

"When I was in college, there were certain words you couldn't say in front of a girl. Now you can say them but you can't say 'girl.'"
- Tom Lehrer, in the liner notes to his newly-released 3-CD set

Shrub's new web site lists his top 3 priorities. Number 3 is "Putting education first."

The big issue in the Meg Ryan-Dennis Quaid divorce case: who gets custody of their guru?

Chicago has kicked out of the school districts an abstinence program run by Moonies which preaches something called "absolute sex," which means sex with whoever the Unification Church assigns to you. Yeah, I'd have thought "absolute sex" would mean something more interesting too.

Sheriff Joe of Maricopa County, Arizona is at it again. This time his idea is putting web-cams at the county jail so that guys arrested for soliciting prostitutes can wave to their wives on the Internet.

I'm still waiting to hear whether the guy the Philadelphia police beat up actually had a gun or not. It can't be taking them this long to find a throw-down gun.

I'm also still waiting for Trent Lott to apologize to Hillary Clinton for suggesting that her alleged anti-Semitic statement was recent rather than in 1974, and was made because she's annoyed at not having locked up the Jewish vote in NY. This is the guy who was caught a few months ago lying about his involvement with the CCC, non? He made the statement on Fox
News, owned by Rupert Mudorch, which also owns the newspaper that broke it, and the publisher of the book in which the claim is made. Synergy!

Wednesday, July 19, 2000

I'm getting a little tired of being woken up at 7 in the morning by EBMUD, which is rebuilding the sewer system around here. I never know what obstacles I'll have to navigate in trying to leave the house. Last week I found they'd dug a huge trench in front of my driveway without knocking on doors to see if somebody might actually want to move their car first. And right now, there is a large truck parked right up to the driveway, just to make getting out of it as hazardous as possible; yup, I like my left turns like I like my women: blind and dangerous.

Probably a longer run-up than that joke required.

The Bermudan Parliament has relaxed the dress-code for MPs. They will now be able to wear Bermuda shorts.

Tuesday, July 18, 2000

Last week, the Middle East peace talks started with Barak and Arafat each offering to let the other one go through a door first. And then the news drop-out fell. Do you think they've spent the last week arguing about which one would go first?

In Afghanistan, in the middle of a football match, the religious police seized the visiting Pakistani team and shaved their heads for the crime of wearing shorts.

Friday, July 14, 2000

Hope everyone got a chance to read the article in today, Friday's NY Times on a death squad massacre in Colombia. Your tax dollars at work.

According to the US trade ambassador, on McNeil-Lehrer yesterday, the trade agreement with Vietnam will force them to implement the rule of law and democracy. You really have to have heard it to understand why Americans are considered arrogant assholes the world over.

Ok, Philadelphia PD: did he have a gun or didn't he?

Thursday, July 13, 2000

Heinz is soon to produce green ketchup. Like the blue M & M's aren't bad enough.

5 years since the massacre at Srebrenica. 4,000 bodies, or parts of bodies, still waiting for someone to get off their ass and run tests to identify them.

Speaking of DNA, does anyone else think that the news that the only person whose execution Dubya ever delayed for DNA testing turned out to be guilty, supporting his ridiculous assertion that everyone executed in Texas is guilty guilty guilty? I smell a rat, and a large rat, since everything is bigger than Texas.

Israel has dropped plans to sell China weapons it can use to threaten the US to keep it from supporting Taiwan. Wasn't that nice? Evidently they were finally pissing off the very Congresscritters they expect to be able to extort a large bribe from in order to underwrite any peace agreement. Such a nice client state. We tell them to jump, they ask how much are you willing to pay.

Monday, July 10, 2000

The president of Montenegro declares that Yugoslavia no longer exists. And not before time, either.

There is a website, which you could look up, devoted to US currency issued by the states before the Civil War, specifically currency issued by Southern states with images of happy slaves.

A Russian rocket will fly parts to the International Space Station tomorrow, with a big ole ad for Pizza Hut on the side. The article didn't say in what language, but one assumes English since the price given was $1 million.

Saturday, July 08, 2000

You ain't seen nothing yet

The Star Wars test fails, unfortunately for the wrong reason. Still, any failure is one for the good guys, especially since the Pentagon had already dummied down the test to the point where it was like a Larry King interview with George W. Bush. In this case, though, it was like Bush broke his leg in a freak chewing-gum-and-walking-at-the-same-time accident on the way to the interview.

The NY Times quotes Gore's "pet slogan" as "You ain't seen nothing yet." Two problems with that: 1) Gore can't say it without wincing at the bad grammar (no problem for Dubya, who a couple of days ago in a school said that literacy was the "basics" of education), 2) after 8 years of Clinton, we have in fact seen everything.

The World Bank rejects funding a Chinese project to settle 58,000 Chinese in Tibet.

OK, here's a story that took 50 years to come out: during the Korean War, there were regular aerial dogfights between Russian and American planes. The Russians wore Chinese uniforms and their planes had Chinese markings, and they shot down several hundred American and South Korean planes.

Friday, July 07, 2000

A week after Tony Blair floats an idiotic proposal for the police to be able to fine drunks on the spot and march them to an ATM in order to collect, his own 16-year old son is arrested, found in Leicester Square lying in his own vomit. Euan gave a false name (well, wouldn't you if your name was Euan) and address (11 Downing Street would be a bit of a giveaway).

A report is released on the plane crash of John John Kennedy. It says that he was the victim of "disorientation." He is a Kennedy, so I assume this means he thought he was the center of the universe.

The Yugoslav parliament changes the constitution to allow Milosevic to become president again. Montenegro is threatening not to recognize the change, so look for another war.

Pitcairn Island, settled by the mutineers of the HMS Bounty a couple of hundred years ago, and whose 44 inbred descendants have evidently not figured out that the coast is clear and they can just leave, is threatening to secede to France. Interestingly, the Times says that Tom Fletcher (yes, descended from who you think) speaks with an 18th century accent.

If you've ever been in a phone-box in London, or indeed have ever been looking for a hooker in London, you probably know that the boxes are festooned with cards advertising prostitutes. Well, London elementary school students have started collecting and trading them. Oh great, a Naughty Nellie rookie card! At least it's less pernicious than Pokemon.

Tuesday, July 04, 2000

Location location location

The NY Times reports that almost all firecrackers blown up today were made in China, as were most of the little American flags waved around. And to top it off, a Japanese man, a little thin Japanese man yet, has again won the hotdog-eating contest on Coney Island, setting a new record.

With no particular sense of irony, the British Parliament spent Independence Day debating the Queen's budget. One Labour MP noted that Buckingham Palace has 58 bedrooms and 78 bathrooms, and asked "How many palaces does the Royal Family need in order to discharge its functions to the state?" No comment.

In the UK, Texaco has a promotion in which people play some sort of game in order to find 5 sportscars which are buried 20 feet underground. Convertibles yet.

In the very same week as California's Insurance Commissioner, Hugo Z. Firefly, resigns from office for extorting money from insurance companies in order to make himself look good on tv, the governor decides that rather than reducing the car tax, the state will first charge the higher rate and then mail out a rebate check. Davis said that this was because otherwise people would not know they were getting a rebate. This little campaign stunt will cost $22 million.

The KGB is back to its old tricks, blackmailing people to make them inform. The latest victim was a student they were trying to get to spy on an opposition party for them. They got him expelled when he refused. They were threatening to have him sent to Chechnya, so presumably that's the next step. If anybody's up for a "Who lost China" witchhunt, I think it's not too early to start.

Saturday, July 01, 2000

Clinton said of the human genome project, which let's face it none of you understand, "We have learned the language in which God created life." Pig Latin, I'm guessing.

A Conservative Jewish synagogue was bombed in Jerusalem this week. Congratulations on your understanding of the idiocy of the human species if you immediately guessed that it was done by Orthodox Jews.

Germany is thinking about destroying the bunkers and tank traps that constituted the Siegfried Line, which held off the American invasion of Germany for so long during World War II. Environmentalists want them preserved because badgers and other wildlife have been using them. Proposals to turn the bunkers into laundromats have not gotten off the ground.