Monday, July 30, 2001

Not Nice

A nice headline from the Times: Tories will still oppose Nice, says Clarke. That's the Nice treaty; they're not actually against niceness, at least not to hear them tell it.

Follow up: That Egyptian feminist who was hauled into court by Islamic loons who wanted her forcibly divorced has had the case thrown out.

Sunday, July 29, 2001

William Kennedy Smith is thinking of running for Congress, and has already commissioned focus groups to see what they think about a rapist, oh excuse me acquitted rapist, representing them. Wouldn't you love to watch the video on that one?

Thursday, July 26, 2001

Yesterday I saw a gas pump with a little tv screen in it, so you can watch CNN Headline News while pumping your gas. This is just plain silly.

Even sillier, walking across a whale carcass in Australia so you can pet the shark feeding on it.

In 1914 and to a lesser extent in 1915, there were Christmas truces in World War I, where British and German soldiers came out of their trenches and played football. The last surviving participant in any truce just died at 106. He was also the oldest man in Britain.

The Danish Justice Minister is threatening to arrest Israel's new ambassador to Denmark, a former head of Shin Bet who has admitted to authorizing torture.

Just plain mean:
BOSNIAN Serb police have sent a £175,000 bill to organisers of a commemoration for the thousands of Muslim men massacred in Srebrenica, saying they must pay for security services.

Tuesday, July 24, 2001

Everyone reported that when Wahid went out on the balcony to declare that he was still president of Indonesia, he was wearing shorts and a polo shirt. This space can also confirm that he was wearing flip-flops. This is why it's a little hard to take his attempt to retain power all that seriously, although it's not as good as when a couple of days ago his declaration of a state of emergency was read out by an aide while he took a nap--on camera.

I just want to point out that, like Estrada being forced out in the Philippines, this was not repeat not an example of "people power." These were elected leaders who should never have been elected, because it was obvious what they were.

Speaking of wing-nuts, Bush ended the Clinton program of buying back guns from housing projects, which took 20,000 guns off the streets.

On an unrelated note, Ashcroft is on the cover of the NRA magazine this month. I understand the fold-out is an Uzi.

The Basque government plans to hold a referendum on independence, despite threats from the Spanish government.

Sunday, July 22, 2001

An Anglican nun was talking about the hostility faced by nuns in East London. Someone yelled "fucking nun" at her, and she told him it was one or the other.

Not a very funny story, but you don't often see the word "fucking" in the Daily Telegraph. But as it turns out, they were quoting the Church Times.

Saw a story on the BBC about an Australian swimming coach who made his students faster by putting a crocodile in the pool with them (mouth taped) (the croc's, not the students'). The Beeb didn't remark on this bit, but the town was Darwin.

Saturday, July 21, 2001

There is a credible theory now going round that Van Gogh did not cut off his own ear, but that Gaughin did it. Certainly makes a lot a more sense.

And that leads me back to the question of Lincoln and mercury, addressed here a few days ago. I read that story in two British papers. The NY Times didn't have it and I didn't see it in the Washington Post either. The British are more interested in the American past than the Americans are.

Knowing how trend-conscious all of you are, I thought I'd pass this on: soup is the new salad.

Bush has found yet another international treaty to wreck: chemical warfare.

The Israeli Jewish terrorist group that killed the 3-month old Palestinian is called the Committee for Road Safety.

Why have the police been bothering Gary Condit all this time if they knew he had a brother named Darrell Wayne Condit?

Bush is trying to increase the number of "civilian contractors" sent to assist the Colombian military and/or death squads.

Thursday, July 19, 2001

A () bites () story / Getting your sea-legs / exploding cow (oh, is that what it takes to get your attention?)

Bush was in Britain today, chowing down with the Queen. Someone streaked, which is just so '70s. Daughter Barbara went along, but had to eat with the other kids at the card table. No one is saying whether she, like Bill Clinton at around her age, took advantage of the laxer laws of the mother country and had a little wine with her meal.

When writing about Cheney's plan not to pay his electricity bills (and the Daily Show did my joke better with a line about Cheney being plugged into a nickel-cadmium charger over-night), I neglected to mention the small print, which is that he also wants to be able to take donations (read: bribes) from corporations for consumable goods for official functions at Blair House.

As is its usual practice, the Pentagon first declared victory in its Star Wars test Monday, and then admitted later that the system had actually failed, again.

The G8 conference in Genoa will be met by an Italian-style protest. The locals, already pissed off at the heavy-handed security arrangements, are really annoyed at being told not to hang their washing out. Expect a lot of underwear. A lot.

Colin Powell, showing that facility for the language that no doubt won him his current job, said this week, "It takes a while to tighten your saddle and get your sea legs." I think I see what his problem is...

Wednesday, July 18, 2001


As expected, Michael Portillo, the only Tory leadership
candidate with a chance of making Blair even breathe hard, was eliminated from the race today. Times' columnist Matthew Parris said that the during the counting it was so quiet you could have heard a dagger drop.

Cheney, about to start his tour in support of his Saving Our Precious Life Style By Putting a Power Plant on Every Block energy plan, has asked that his office not have to pay the skyrocketing electricity bills at the VP mansion. The extra electricity is necessary to charge the robot which replaced the late Mr. Cheney last month. The robot is thought to be the old Gorebot but with a new head. Dick Cheney: his love is real, he is not.

Spurious George has been doing interviews with the British press. He told the Times that the Queen is "neat." He told the BBC that Russia is no longer our enemy, therefore it is necessary to set aside the ABM treaty, which locks us in a hostile relationship.
Something like that. Who knew it was just an arms control treaty standing in the way of eternal peace.

Philip Morris has told the Czech government that killing off smokers 5 years early saves the gov much more money than the additional medical costs. Our heroes.

Abraham Lincoln for years periodically went into homicidal rages because he was taking quack medicine with a large amount of mercury. He went off the stuff several months after becoming president. This never happens with robots.

Monday, July 16, 2001

Virgin nurses and the return of Stakhanov

Turkish student nurses and midwives will have to take virginity tests. I'm gonna take a guess that this applies only to females.

Continuing his onward march to the 1930s, Putin has implemented a program in which model workers will be honored.

Sunday, July 15, 2001

Molly Ivins's column today is on the proposal to change North Dakota's name to Just Dakota. She says that since if they seceded from the US they'd be the third largest nuclear power, we should really let them call themselves anything they want.

I now have a position on this. I think it should change its name to Extreme Dakota! That exclamation point isn't my way of ending that sentence; I think it should be part of the name.

Bush Lite will be visiting Britain this week. In advance of that, the British ambassador will present him with a bust of Winston Churchill. He will spend the rest of the trip wondering why they gave him a bust of W.C. Fields.

The Pentagon finally got a successful Star Wars test the only way it knew how: it cheated. They gave their missile crib notes so it could distinguish a real from a fake missile. In real life this wouldn't happen, and the Star Wars system would flounder around like Bush after Cheney's fatal heart attack.

The front-runner to replace Hague as head of the Tory party is about to go down in flames. Michael Portillo, aka The Spaniard, will crash and burn because he's too reasonable for the party (and he's not that reasonable), because he's had sex with men, because his people claimed that he was backed by Margaret Thatcher, who was not pleased, loudly, and because he is a conniving little back-stabber, who leaked against Hague to the press during the last election. This should have come as no surprise. When John Major, in a stunt, resigned as party leader and told the party to back him or sack him, Portillo expressed complete support, but the BBC followed around British Telecom trucks and discovered that he was setting up a campaign office.
Book seen in the window of the UCB bookstore: A History of Lesbian Hair.

A man in Ohio was sentenced to 10 years in prison for child pornography. Not pictures. He wrote stories. In his diary. Which he showed no one else.

Friday, July 13, 2001

Fun web sites

German tv stations are cancelling almost all of their comedies, after finding out that Germans don't get humor.

Bernard Goetz (remember him?) is running for mayor of NY on a platform of vegetarianism, but has yet to be noticed by the NY Times.

Some web-sites to check out: is just what it says it is, and could hardly be more creepy. Check out the "But some black people are nice, aren't they?" section. Then click on the main KKK section and buy a t-shirt at the gift shop.

The following will present a dilemma for Chris, because it is the web site of the Dull Men's Club, whose web-site lists all sorts of dull things for dull people to do. However, if Chris reads the whole URL, he will realize that this one has something to do with airports, and will be unable to resist clicking on it.

Actually, the site missed one activity. I mean it mentions watching corn grow, but I seem to remember that there's an actual web-cam somewhere.... Fill out the test to find if you are dull (did you ever have an urge? were you able to get over it?) (and I fully realize the irony that I have been reading this site on a Friday night).
You may be able to guess what this one's like just from the fact that there's a misspelling in its URL. Find out why you will be spending eternity in hellfire, by clicking on atheists, Jews, Catholics, scientologists, people who pray to angels, etc etc etc (some do not work). Also, neato music, more misspellings, and images that seem to have been clipped from some odd sources.

Thursday, July 12, 2001

Say kids, what time is it?

Well, someone's finally invented a clock accurate
to a quadrillionth of a second (a femtosecond), and I say it's way overdue.

Actually, the project was based on a misunderstanding caused by a stuck keyboard at the White House, which produced a memo saying, "President Bush will be taking a nap, could someone wake him up around 2:00:00000000000000000."

It's so crazy it just might work: Kenya's Daniel arap Moi says that AIDS can be stopped if all Kenyans would just not have sex for two years. Which is easy for him to say, since he must be pushing eighty.

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Come for the legislation, stay for the snuff

According to the Guardian, smoking has been banned in the British House of Commons since 1693, well before the invention of California, but snuff is not only not banned, but is available free to members, not that many have taken advantage of it since Churchill retired in 1964. Indeed, the supplier reports that there have been no re-orders for 7 years. The Guardian is going to ask some poor MP to try it and report back, and I will pass the information along.

Thursday's Washington Post explains the nature of the dealings between the White House and the Salvation Army.

Perhaps I'm wrong in connecting two stories on the same page in today's NY Times, but it seems as if China is proving its capability of staging the Olympics Games by staging war games off Taiwan. Now remember, IOC, a vote for Beijing is a vote for mass deportations of beggars, mass arrests of dissidents and mass slaughter of stray (and other) dogs.

I haven't talked about Gary Condit yet. I'm tired of police engaging in public relations exercises and making deals with other people's PR people, such as whatever deal required them to say over and over that Condit was not a suspect. Of course he is.

Did anyone else see that thing at Kennebunkport, where Bush was asked about Putin and said something about Putin being concerned with extremism and Bush was too, where it was obvious that any follow-up question would have exposed that Bush had no idea what he was talking about?

Tuesday, July 10, 2001


In Berkeley today I saw a woman with a t-shirt that said "I make boys cry."

Well, I was planning to make fun of a headline in the NY Times business section--"Switzerland: Hip Implant Lawsuits"--but I think the pun quota for the day has already been filled by the London Times, which reported the return of a Croatian Wimbeldon winner to his home town of Split with the headline "Split goes bananas for local hero Goran."

Fun stories this week you may have missed because they were broken by one newspaper and not generally picked up by other newspapers:

When asbestos was banned, W R Grace found itself prepared to move into the market vacuum suddenly opened up with a product that did the same product but didn't have asbestos. The only problem: it actually had asbestos. But less of it. So they pressured the (newly formed) EPA into setting a standard just high enough to ban all other products but theirs, and then spent decades lying about its asbestos content, and the danger therefrom.

Bush has a deal with the Salvation Army where they lobby for his "faith-based" policy and he exempts them from state and local government policies about groups that discriminate against gays. The Bush administration's first reaction was to call the Salvation Army a bunch of liars. (By the way, the Salvation Army is about to be banned in Moscow although not, I think, because of its policy re homosexuals.)

The Germans are about to remake Fawlty Towers, starting with updated versions of the scripts used for all but 1 of the originals. No cash prizes for guessing which one.

Saturday, July 07, 2001

Most wonderful human being

New Yorker cartoon shows parents talking to their, say, 8-year old son: Now son, its very very important that you remember where you electronically transferred mommy and daddy’s assets to.

The media are a little schizophrenic (or just ignorant) about the Afghan warlord/vice president who was assassinated. I’ve read that he had an aggressive drug eradication program, and that he was implicated in drug sales (not necessarily mutually exclusive, I suppose, on the Bill Gates model), and The Times has 2 headlines, one saying Afghans Mourn Murdered Leader... and the other Feared Warlord... (again, perhaps on the Bill Gates model).

Director John Frankenheimer has died. I think we can all agree that he was the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.!

Speaking of schizophrenic and/or ignorant media, during the conference on African development a couple of weeks back, I saw two different reports, one in a newspaper, one by the BBC on Botswana, presented as the one African country was economy wasnt in the toilet. They looked for the secret of its success, brushing past the obvious answer: location location location; in this case, on type of huge diamond deposits. However today the story in the Telegraph and the Guardian is that Botswana faces extinction from AIDS, now affecting 39% of its adult population.

Headline that could and probably should be taken two ways: Bush Readies Corporate Scandal Plan.
Jenna Bush is slapped on the wrist. A fine and a one-month suspension of her driving license. First, it is stupid to suspend drivers' licenses for offenses unrelated to driving. Second, she'll just get the Secret Service to drive her.

I keep hearing rumors about a fourth Indiana Jones
movie. The Times commented that Indie is an archaelogist searching for old relics before pointedly adding that Harrison Ford is 59 and Mishter Connery 70.

Evidently Stalin used to draw humorous caricatures. For example, in one cartoon, which Ilizarov believes Stalin drew around 1930, his finance minister, Nikolai Bryukhanov, is depicted naked, hanging from a rope by his genitals. You can find the drawing at the, world news section, but it's kind of small.

Friday, July 06, 2001

Weird shit

Putin, through Gazprom, just silenced the last independent national media outlet, a radio station. Not surprisingly, the event received very little coverage inside Russia. And probably not much anywhere else.

If nothing else comes from the war crimes trials of Milosevic, etc, at least it made Ariel Sharon this week have to avoid Belgium, where an investigation of his war crimes is going on (the old ones in Lebanon, not the new ones). Not, of course, that being banned from Belgium is especially onerous.

Click here; don't ask any questions, just do it.

It is now illegal in Colorado to wear aluminum underwear. "This is serious business," insists State Sen. Stephanie Takis, who sponsored the bill. "We have laws against using crowbars as theft devices, but if you were lining your underwear with aluminum foil, that was not a crime." It is now. Apparently, shoplifters found such so-called "iron pants" allow them to sneak stolen items past anti-theft scanners at store doors. The law also allows store security officers to detain people who "crackle when they walk," but provides an exception for aluminum britches worn for "personal amusement". (Colorado Springs Gazette)

Wednesday, July 04, 2001

Dubya has been told by his advisors to look more relaxed. So he's been playing golf, which as we all know is very presidential. And he cheated, which is also very presidential.

From the NY Times review of Scary Movie 2: "Perhaps, in a rare instance of subtle social satire, this film is being released on July 4 to remind America of the high cost of freedom of speech."

Tuesday, July 03, 2001


I just got a call from the Chronicle. The caller asked if I was the decision-maker of the household. I said, "Yes, and I'm gonna make a decision now." And hung up the phone. How I do adore a straight line.

Israel says that it is sticking to the cease-fire, except for tracking down and assassinating people.

Zhirinovsky (born Eidelstein??) admits that his father was a Jew.

300 witches are killed in Congo-Kinshasa.

Sunday, July 01, 2001

The Dubai husband who divorced his wife by text message
is back with her.

In Britain, the Co-op has decided to resist EU directives not to sell under-size fruit and vegetables. The headline (in both the Times and Daily Telegraph): We Will Fight Them on the Peaches.