Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Today -100: June 30, 1910: Of peace

The NYT supports the idea of Taft naming Teddy Roosevelt to head the Peace Commission, “for no other voice would be more listened to.” Although you’d think Taft must have been getting just a little tired of being constantly over-shadowed by his predecessor.

The first international conflict TR might be called upon to settle is a territorial dispute between Canada and the United States, which contests Canada’s claim to exclusive jurisdiction over Hudson Bay. Which basically only affects American whalers, who don’t really care, and they’re whale-killers, so fuck ‘em.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I’ve always said, it’s all about...

...the hats. Queen Elizabeth visits Canada and meets Mi’kmaq Chief... wait for it... Sylliboy.

Today -100: June 29, 1910: What’s the German for “Oh, the humanity”?

In Britain, Prime Minister Asquith has scuttled an attempt by MPs to pass a compromise women’s suffrage bill by refusing to give up any parliamentary time to it. The militant campaign, which has been paused, first for the general election, then so that this bill could be passed, is likely to be resumed.

Say, remember the LZ 7 Deutschland? Began commercial flights last week? It crashed in a storm in Lower Saxony. No one was killed, but the Deutschland is a wreck, “pierced with pine tree stems, a mass of deflated silk and twisted aluminium.” This was its third voyage. It cost $137,500.

Headline of the Day -100: “Police to Stop Smoking Autos.” They’ll go back to cigarettes.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Cat-iversary: I believe amoxicillin is traditional

Today is Christabel and my second anniversary. My gift to her: a plastic ball that rolls down the stairs quite satisfactorily, which I found in the back yard, probably courtesy of the children next door, but I’m sure they must have intended it as a present for my cat. Her gift to me: an accidental scratch that became infected and spread to my lymph system. I think that sums up the human-cat relationship pretty well.

I could show you the pictures I took of my gnarly infection, or, alternatively, the most recent cat pictures.


Today -100: June 28, 1910: Of colossal frauds and automobile accidents

In the lobby of the Cuban Congress, Congresscritter Manuel Lores shot at another congresscritter, Antonio San Miguel, but missed, grazing the head of Conservative Party leader Antonio Gonzales Lanuza. San Miguel had denounced a railroad deal as a colossal fraud.

Robert Taft, son of the president (and later a US senator), driving one of the president’s cars (how many did he own?), ran over an Italian street laborer, one Michael Thisthwolla.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cool (so to speak)

Iceland’s gay marriage law came into effect today. One of the first to take advantage of it: Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.

Name of the Day

I heard this on the BBC World News today and had to confirm it on line – had a bit of difficulty with the spelling: involved in covering up the Catholic child abuse scandal in Belgium: Cardinal Godfried Danneels.

Today -100: June 27, 1910: Of elections, shotgun marriages, and imperial preaching

Mexican President slash general (but he really wants to direct) Porfirio Díaz is reelected. No doubt it was a totally fair election, and the opposition Anti-Reelectionist Party, (led by Francisco Madero, who Díaz had arrested) got 2% of the vote.

The Mexican military has been holding “trials” for participants in the Valladolid uprising, followed rapidly by executions. Two defendants were allowed to get married before being put in front of the firing squad.

Kaiser Wilhelm preached a sermon yesterday (Sunday) aboard the imperial yacht. I’d make a What Would Jesus Do joke, but I guess Jesus and Wilhelm did both inherit their father’s business. Wilhelm’s topic was “Did Jesus Live?” The NYT does not inform us of the kaiser’s position on this question.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Today -100: June 26, 1910: Of taxing and spending, conspiracies, and lethal roosters

The outgoing Congress appropriated a record $1,055,000,000.

Sen. William Stone (D-MO) tells the Senate that a syndicate of bankers and whatnot exists in the US to exploit the finances of Nicaragua, backing the Estradist rebels in order to gain control of Nicaragua’s public debt, and calls for the Foreign Relations Committee to investigate US-Nicaraguan relations. Nothing will happen, of course, and Secretary of State Knox denies having heard of any such syndicate. Sen. Stone, of course, is entirely correct.

Retired Colonel William Bradford Homer is killed by a rooster.

Friday, June 25, 2010


Um, always?

Ray’s Hell Burger is other people

I hear the latest DVD of Dr. Caligari, the German expressionist classic about a deranged mesmerist who hypnotizes his assistant into killing on his behalf, is much more complete than earlier versions.

Anyway, Obama took Dmitri Medvedev to Ray’s Hell Burger for lunch yesterday. Medvedev had a Coke, so America wins. Wait, he and Obama shared an order of fries, so socialism wins. Oh noes!


(P.S. I’m also told that the restored material in the recent re-release of Metropolis changes your perspective on the film entirely.)

Today -100: June 25, 1910: What’ll we do with a problem like Arizona?

Oklahoma Sen. Thomas Gore claims in the Senate that he and a congresscritter from OK were offered large bribes to drop legislation that would limit the fees lawyers would receive for services in selling off lands of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians (estimated at $3 million to $16m, in 1910 dollars) (lands with oil or coal under them). Gore says congresscritters and former congresscritters have financial interests in the contracts.

The new almost-state Arizona has a population of only 200,000, 60% of whom are “of Mexican blood, and frequently ignorant of the English language.” The NYT concludes, “Arizona, it will be seen, is something of a problem at the very outset.”

The dirigible LZ 7 Deutschland’s second commercial flight carries 32 passengers and crew, the most ever flown in a dirigible. It ran into a storm, but rode it out. The Deutschland is sold out for its next week of scheduled flights, and the promoters are sure it will pay for itself.

I predict the LZ 7 Deutschland will carry passengers for a long, long time.

Name of the Day -100: Hootookatoo, a Tibetan high priest ordered executed by the Dalai Lama (for attempting to assassinate him – with sorcery) 3 years ago. China (which deposed the DL and occupied Tibet), has issued a royal edict ordering Hootookatoo reincarnated (can they do that?)

Headline of the Day -100: “Tainted Beef in Army Manoeuvres.” Scary.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Today -100: June 24, 1910: Of accomplishing all one’s goals

Taft brags that just 1/3 into his term, he has fulfilled all his election pledges. I guess he can spend the rest of his term at home in Ohio clearing brush, or whatever one does in Ohio.

Taft rejects an attempt to insert into a bill a provision banning the Justice Dept using the Sherman Anti-Trust Act against unions.

Korea “agrees” to give Japan control over its police system.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


AP: “New Gulf Spill Cleanup Head Says Job Is to Listen.” And what will Tony Hayward’s replacement, Bob Dudley, hear? Glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug glug....

But I won’t tolerate division

Obama fired Gen. Stanley “Another Fine Mess You’ve Gotten Us Into” McChrystal and replaced him with (sigh) David Petraeus. Then he went into the Rose Garden with Robert Gates, Col. Combover, the alliterative Mike Mullen, and Vice President Bite Me, and made a statement.

It’s not about McChrystal McCritizing him: “as Commander-in-Chief, I believe this decision is necessary to hold ourselves accountable to standards that are at the core of our democracy.” No fat chicks? No shirt no shoes no service?

WHAT HE WON’T TOLERATE: “I welcome debate among my team, but I won’t tolerate division.” Especially long division. He really does get more like Bush every day.

WHAT WE NEED TO REMEMBER: “We need to remember what this is all about. Our nation is at war.” Hands up everyone who’d forgotten.

WHAT WE FACE: “We face a very tough fight in Afghanistan. But Americans don’t flinch in the face of difficult truths or difficult tasks. We persist and we persevere.” We perspire and we perseverate. We persiflage and we...

HE’S ALWAYS SO CONCERNED THAT WE’RE GOING TO MAKE A MISTAKE: “So make no mistake: We have a clear goal.”

SO THEY ARE WINNING: “We are going to break the Taliban’s momentum.”

JUST LIKE WHEN I REPLACED GEORGE BUSH AND NOT A FUCKING THING CHANGED: “Let me say to the American people, this is a change in personnel but it is not a change in policy.”

He will not tolerate division, or any other hand position than in front of stomach, fingers interlocked

By the way, last night Obama hosted an LGBT Pride Month event at the White House and there’s not a single funny picture of it.

Today -100: June 23, 1910: Of dirigibles, savings, duels and... Throop?

In Germany, the very first passenger flight by an airship, the LZ 7 Deutschland, piloted by Count Zeppelin with 12 passengers and a buffet, flew the 250 miles from Friedrichschafen to Düsseldorf in 9 hours (their luggage went to Munich) (kidding!).

I predict the LZ 7 Deutschland will carry passengers for a long, long time.

The Postal Bank Bill passes, allowing people to open savings accounts under $500 (later raised) at post offices, at 2% interest, with deposits guaranteed by the government. The system existed until 1967. This was a Republican bill, opposed by Democrats and Robert La Follette. I’m not really sure why, perhaps because the bill was intended to stave off regulation and deposit guarantees for regular banks. The POs will re-deposit most of the funds in local banks, to keep the money in the local community (up to 30% may be put in government securities). Funds might also be invested in the Panama Canal, which is soaking up a lot of the federal budget.

A couple of Syrians fought a duel in Battery Park. One was shot in the hip.

Teddy Roosevelt, Jr. and his new wife, looking for privacy (and not getting it) (reporters went knocking on the hotel door of newlyweds, how tacky is that?) checked into a hotel in Chicago under an alias: William Throop Rogers.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Today -100: June 22, 1910: Of flatties, aged colored women, and rheumatic justices

NYC Mayor William Jay Gaynor orders the plainclothes division of the NYPD abolished, putting 203 cops back into uniform – and reassigning them to different precincts. Gaynor believes the plainclothesmen were corrupt, and that they were used by captains to collect money in protection rackets (especially from saloons).

The city of Annapolis voted on a local bond measure. Eligible voters included all taxpayers, including women and even, the NYT breathlessly reports, an “aged colored woman.”

Congress passes an act to get rid of ailing (rheumatism) Supreme Court Justice William Henry Moody (perhaps best known as a prosecutor on the Lizzie Borden case), by giving him a full pension although he’s only 56 and only served 3½ years (and he hasn’t actually showed up at work in over a year). Normally, a full pension would come only after reaching 70 years of age and serving 10 years.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Today -100: June 21, 1910: Of legislation, universal peace, revolution averted, and impure blood

The Congressional session is nearing its end. Taft has moved much of his agenda through a Republican Congress with considerable success, having passed his Railroad Bill (substantially rewritten by the Republican “insurgents”), statehood for New Mexico and Arizona (he thinks they will vote Republican in gratitude), and is on course with his Conservation Bill, though having some trouble with his Postal Savings Bank Bill.

The House passed a bill creating a Peace Commission, appointed by the president, to “consider the expediency of utilizing existing international agencies for the purpose of limiting the armaments of the nations of the world by international agreement, and of constituting the combined navies of the world an international force for the preservation of universal peace”. Taft never actually appointed the commission. In his next State of the Union Address in December, Taft explained that that was because he was waiting to hear back from foreign governments. And waiting...

The Mexican government has seized a cache of arms, arrested opposition leaders and declared martial law on the border regions with the US, thus averting any chance of a revolution. This “revolution” was evidently to take the form of going to the polls on election day (June 26) and demanding to be allowed to vote.

A NYT editorial explains why all those reports and rumors about Kaiser Wilhelm’s knee are actually important: “the reputed impurity of the Hohenzollern blood.”

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Contest: Name that yacht

As you all know, BP CEO Tony Hayward, that Wooster without a Jeeves, took time out from his busy schedule of whatever it is he does to fly to the Isle of Wight for the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Round the Island Race. His yacht is called “Bob,” possibly named after the evil spirit guy in Twin Peaks. Still, Bob seems a rather informal name for a luxury yacht and anyway Hayward needs a more appropriately named yacht, so here’s your chance to NAME THAT YACHT.

The Limey Bastard?
The Oil-Soaked Pelican?
Top Kill?
Top Hat?
The Shakedown?

Today -100: June 20, 1910: Of the kaiser’s knee, and dogs and husbands

TMI kaiser: Kaiser Wilhelm’s physicians deny that his knee was lanced, and say that “the discharge has now almost ceased.” A “comprehensive denial has been made in order to set the alarm of the public at rest.”

“A Brooklyn Suffragette” writes in, pointing out that in NY a marriage license costs $1 and a dog license $2. “Can any of your readers advise me – is the dog worth the difference?”

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Say it, don’t spray it

At a protest in Argentina over the killing of a 15-year-old by police.

Today -100: June 19, 1910: Of TR’s triumphal return and the kaiser’s knee

Roosevelt arrived in the US. First quarantine, then a parade. The very first ticket-tape parade. I saw film of the ship arriving on YouTube, but it was spectacularly dull, so I didn’t embed it.

All the news that’s fit to print: “Kaiser’s Knee Lanced.”

Friday, June 18, 2010

The quality of mercy is not tweeted

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff announced the Medieval execution of Ronnie Lee Gardner by the 19th century method of a firing squad via a 21st century mode of communication:

Dude, you just played a pivotal role in the shooting death of another human being, so you don’t really get to act all superior on your iPhone about “the mercy he denied his victims.”

Today -100: June 18, 1910: Of negro schools

A Court of Appeals rules unconstitutional a Kentucky law requiring a majority vote of the (presumably white) electorate in any precinct before a negro industrial school can be located there.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sanctification of the name of heaven

Intra-mural bigotry: an Ultra-Orthodox school in a West Bank settlement gets in legal trouble for segregating Ashkenazi and Sephardic girls (I assume the children are already separated by sex). 100,000 Ultra-Orthodox demonstrate in Jerusalem in favor of segregating Jews. Ha’aretz says the parents, who are facing prison sentences, “seemed elated Wednesday by the prospect of their impending arrest and two-week jail term, which some called ‘a historic stand for the sanctification of the name of heaven.’” They’ll be very pissed off if they get to heaven some day and find people not exactly like themselves there.

Today -100: June 17, 1910: Of trolleys, new states, abraded knees, wooden legs and glass eyes

A strikebreaker from the Philadelphia trolley strike is convicted of involuntary manslaughter for running down a 3-year-old girl, one of the many children run over by trolleys during the strike.

The Senate votes to admit Arizona and New Mexico as states. There is some difference with the House bill over whether to retain the educational requirement for voters in Arizona’s territorial constitution for the referendum for the state constitution; Republicans in the Senate stripped out that (racially motivated, I assume) provision. The two weren’t officially admitted until 1912 (Arizona delayed its entry so that it would coincide with the 50th anniversary of its becoming a Confederate Territory.)

More TMI about Kaiser Wilhelm: “Kaiser Again Indisposed. Abrasion on His Knee the Result of Friction in the Saddle.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Limits Decision to Legs.” The NJ Supreme Court declined to apply the “wooden leg” decision of Mullen [I think the Times means Goldman] v. Central Railroad Company, in which it reduced a verdict of $6,000 in damages to a man whose leg was cut off by a negligently operated railroad train to $3,500 because they make very nice artificial legs these days so his earning capacity won’t be too badly hurt, to the case of a man who lost an eye at the copper works at which he was employed. Evidently glass eyes are not as helpful as wooden legs.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Times

It was hearing that the London Times was online that convinced me to go online 14½ years ago, so it’ll be sad when the day comes that I stop being able to get around the new pay wall. Today, for example, there’s a story about a python urinating on Prince Harry in Botswana (the headline adverts to “the royal wee.”

Cap in hand

Obama met with BP officials, who promised to put $20 billion in an escrow account. Obama said, “It’s also important to emphasize this is not a cap,” adding, “because those BP motherfuckers can’t motherfucking cap any motherfucking thing.”

No one, but no one, liked Obama’s speech yesterday. For me, it comes down to two underlying problems: 1) it seems to have been written entirely by his speechwriters. That is, it covered the bare minimum of things he had to say – doing everything we can, BP will pay, too bad about the shrimpers – but contained nothing that the president wanted to say – no call to arms, much less to conservation, nothing about the importance of the environment, no lessons learned – because the only thing this spill means to Obama is a PR problem he wants to get past. 2) By never telling us any difficult truths and never saying anything specific when a reassuring generality would do, he did not speak to us as as if we were intelligent adults. Bush would have given the same speech, word for word, except he’d have looked more sincere during the “blessing of the fleet” part.

The best Marine he can be

Evidently I missed the 2007 conviction of Sgt. Lawrence Hutchins III for the kidnapping and murder in Iraq in 2006 of Awad the Lame, a former cop crippled in the line of duty who Hutchins and other pissed-off Marines randomly chose to murder, and left a weapon and a shovel with his body to try and make him look like he’d been planting IEDs, being overturned in April. So Hutchins, the last of the convicted Marines to be released for the 2006 killing, is back on active duty (although the Navy is appealing the court decision). “I’m going to be the best Marine I can be today,” the war criminal told the AP, which isn’t quite as quotable as “Congratulations gents, we’ve just gotten away with murder.”

Today -100: June 16, 1910: Of a time when wars shall cease

Secretary of State Philander C. Knox makes a speech at the commencement of the University of Pennsylvania. According to him, “We have reached a point when it is evident that the future holds in store a time when wars shall cease... when by deliberate international conjunction the strong shall universally help the weak, and when the corporate righteousness of the world shall compel unrighteousness to disappear and shall destroy the habitations of cruelty still lingering in the dark places of the earth.” A date, we want a freaking date when that will happen, Philly. American foreign policy, he says, has always been marked by a “just, friendly, and generous American spirit”.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Obama’s oil spill speech: the Blessing of the Fleet

Obama gave a prime-time address to the nation on the BP oil spill.

MY, SUCH VIOLENT LANGUAGE: “I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.”

OH, SO THAT’S WHY: “That’s why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge”.

UNLESS YOU COUNT CHENEY’S SECRET ENERGY TASK FORCE: “Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.”

WAIT, I THOUGHT IT WAS AS ASSAULT: “And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not a single event... The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic”.

THAT’S THE THING ABOUT OBAMA: HE NEVER WANTS US TO MAKE ANY MISTAKES: “But make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes.” He didn’t say what we’ve got or how long it will take.

WAIT, I THOUGHT IT WAS AN EPIDEMIC: “And sadly, no matter how effective our response is, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done.”

INFORMING: “Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness.” I’m guessing he’ll “inform” Tony Hayward of that because he lacks the legal authority to order him to do it.

WHAT WE NEED: “we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region.” And booty. And Ned Beatty.

NOBODY COULD HAVE PREDICTED...: “A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe –- that the proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken.”

RUH ROH: “the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs -– but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation”.

How will he “seize the moment” and “act as one nation”? By listening to Republicans, of course, because that always helps. “So I’m happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party -– as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels.” And then he’ll adopt those ideas and the Republicans will vote against them anyway, the end.

WHAT THE ONE APPROACH HE WILL NOT ACCEPT IS: “But the one approach I will not accept is inaction.” Oo, big talk. And what about failure? Is that an option, or is it maybe not an option?

And we can do it, he says, because we put a man on the moon, even though some people said it couldn’t be done. Which was the proof that technology can do anything at all, including drill safely for oil a mile beneath the ocean, so enough with the moon landing thing already, is what I’m saying.

“And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny -– our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how we’re going to get there. We know we’ll get there.” Er, where was that again?

His big finish was about a local tradition called the “Blessing of the Fleet,” which he heard about in his many trips to the Gulf Coast or possibly when he rented The Perfect Storm. Priests of miscellaneous religions bless the shrimp boats, which then go out and sink, because “The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always.” Like the images in our brains of oil-coated pelicans.

Everything you need to know about the war in Afghanistan...

you can tell by Gen. David Petraeus’s unconsciousness.

Today -100: June 15, 1910: Of street corner oratory and the perversion of faith and morals

A mob of white men in Darrington, Washington expels 30 Japanese working for the United States Lumber Company from the town after partaking of “much street corner oratory.”

The pope withdraws the encyclical that so pissed off the Germans, referring to Luther as “heretical” and Protestantism “the perversion of faith and morals”. Now the Vatican says it didn’t intend to insult anyone.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Today -100: June 14, 1910: Of the rights of citizenship, American intervention in Nicaragua (I know!), and typoos

Teddy Roosevelt, at long last returning to America aboard the SS Kaiserin Auguste Victoria, showed that common touch for which he is renowned, attending a Catholic service in steerage. He welcomed the immigrants to America, warned them against associating with strangers upon landing, and “exhorted them to be mindful of the duties of citizenship and to protect the rights of women.”

Nicaraguan President Madriz sends a letter to Taft protesting the actions of the commander of the US gunboat Paducah, who threatened to fight government forces if they occupied the port of Bluefields, effectively protecting the Estradists as they retreated from the town. Then he insisted that customs duties not be paid to the government, now in possession of the customs house, but to the revolutionists. Evidently some of the rebel ships are flying the American flag.

The NYT index I use for these posts is full of sloppy typos, or possibly mis-readings based on faded newsprint. A few days ago I enjoyed “German Protest to Pore” (Pope). Today the supposed first paragraph of one story reads: “Declaring that, he is willing to resign his scat in Congress if he fails to convince a fairminded committee that the Administration should be investigated with regard tao the sale of sugur lands in the Philippines, Representative Martin of Colorado introduced another resolution in the House to-day upon this subject.” That’s a serious threat, because you know how much Rep. Martin loved his scat.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Obit of the Day

A neurologist who helped coin the term “persistent vegetative state”: Fred Plum.

Today -100: June 13, 1910: Governor’s daughter stoned

A royal decree in Spain allows non-Catholic religious societies to display the insignia for public worship and other ceremonies (I’m not sure precisely what that means, but you get the general idea). The Vatican formally protests.

And a papal encyclical denouncing Martin Luther (in case the last three or four centuries of papal encyclicals denouncing Martin Luther hadn’t sunk in) leads to protests in Germany.

A referendum in the relatively new state of Oklahoma decided that there would be a permanent capital and that it would be Oklahoma City. The governor’s 17-year-old daughter cheered the outcome, but made the mistake of doing so on the streets of Guthrie; she was stoned. That is, stones were thrown at her. The state seal was “secretly rushed” from Guthrie to Oklahoma City in an automobile (Ms Haskell rushed from Guthrie to Oklahoma City by train).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today -100: June 12, 1910: Of homesteads and savages

Taft opens up federal lands in Colorado and Wyoming to homesteading, to prevent Americans emigrating to the Canadian north-west.

Creepy Headline of the Day -100: “Japan To Wipe Out Savages.” The aborigines of Formosa. Okay, headhunters, but when one group of people is announcing plans to “wipe out” another group of people, a little self-reflection might be appropriate before affixing the word savages. Here’s the New York Times’s opinion: “As the Japanese appear unable to enter into any lasting truce with them or induce them to submit to civilization, there seems nothing for it now bu war to the knife, which means extermination of the wretches.” Or they could, you know, stop trying to colonize the Formosans’ land.

Friday, June 11, 2010

BP turducken

Lizz Winstead tweet: “Stop running ads for BP unless Tony Hayward is standing there covered in oil holding a pelican covered in oil.”

What’s the word for a seagull covered in oil stuffed inside a pelican covered in oil stuffed inside a Tony Hayward covered in oil?

Bullhorn moment

Lindsey Graham says Obama needs “a bullhorn moment where he went to the Gulf of Mexico and said, ‘We’re going to get this right, I’m going to get on it.’” So President Canute needs to go to the Gulf and yell at the oil spill. Excellent advice, Huckleberry.

Today -100: June 11, 1910: Of Finland and Mexico

Russia removes whatever autonomy Finland’s Diet had.

Mexican troops recapture Valladolid.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We are protesting so that people know we are not killers

In the most terrifying protest ever, professional clowns in San Salvador, who make money annoying people on public transportation, protested against people who dress up as clowns and rob people on public transportation (Monday a clown shot a bus passenger who refused to pay up).

The horror. The horror.

Today -100: June 10, 1910: Of pogroms

Borisov, A Russian town largely populated by Jews, has been burned down.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Why dreams need hyperlinks

So I was just taking a nap and in my dream I was reading in The Nation about an incident (which I was also seeing) in which the president of Honduras ordered some subordinate taken away and tortured. Then I looked up (I was on a street corner, I believe in L.A.) and there he was, the president of Honduras, crossing the street, all by himself, wearing khakis. So naturally I yelled “Thug” at him, and he stormed over, and I tried to show him the article I’d just been reading but I couldn’t find it again as I leafed desperately through the several issues of The Nation I had with me on my sofa (still on that street corner). It was very frustrating.

Today -100: June 9, 1910: A second sober thought

In the Yucatan, Indian insurgents massacre officials and others, 40 or more, in Valladolid and are occupying the town.

The president of the United States Brewers’ Association reassures its annual convention that “the American people have taken a second sober thought” and now reject prohibition. The Executive Committee issued a report: “The whole vegetable world is in a conspiracy against the prohibitionist. The bees become intoxicated with the distillation of the honey suckle; the wasps grow dizzy in the drowsy clover patch, and even the ants wobble in their walk after they have feasted upon the overripe fruit fallen from the tree, which has started a natural fermentation.” And if it’s good enough for the bees, wasps and ants...

President Taft has rejected the demand from citizens of Seattle for the removal of the 25th Infantry, a black unit, after a member has allegedly assaulted a white woman.

The governor of Smolensk is using secret police to track down Jews, searching house to house and scouring the woods, were some have been hiding.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Today -100: June 8, 1910: Old-fashioned good times and good politics

Three days ago Taft said that socialism was the enemy. The NYT agrees “When both parties become convinced of the truth of this, and become once more respectively Democratic and Republican in the old-fashioned manner, then old-fashioned good times and good politics will be with us once more.”

The Supreme Court of the District of Columbia decides that while Isabel Wall (7) showed no visual signs of being a negro, he would not order the Board of Education to admit her to the white school. Justice Wright claims she is either 1/8th or 1/16th black (her family claims 1/128th), and that heredity rather than appearance is what counts: “Graduations shading toward black or fairness are of very insignificant concern in determining whether one is ‘colored.’”

Monday, June 07, 2010

Today -100: June 7, 1910: Rubber balls of doom

The number of Jews expelled from Kiev so far is 1,421.

In a letter to the Times, William McDowell, President of the League of Peace, asks that Charles Hamilton, who will be flying a plane from NY to Philadelphia, carry some rubber balls and drop them on ships, ferry boats, railroad junctions, City Hall, etc, to demonstrate, I guess, that we are all doomed and that the battleships Congress just authorized should not be built, because they can always be bombed from those new-fangled flying contraptions.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

A little detail about the Rachel Corrie

Israel commandos hijacked the Rachel Corrie to an Israeli port, this time without killing anyone, but the one thing they refuse to do is acknowledge that the ship is called the Rachel Corrie. When they were radioing it, they called it by its old name Linda.

Today -100: June 6, 1910: O

O. Henry dies, at 43.

Headline of the Day -100: “Hair Will Be Scarcer.” China is forbidding the export of human hair, after incidents of women’s hair being cut off in crowds, and pauper corpses being exhumed and shorn. I guess “The Gift of the Magi” doesn’t really translate into Chinese.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Ultimately, this isn’t about me and how angry I am

Thursday, Obama was interviewed by Larry King.

WHAT HE WOULD LOVE TO SPEND A LOT OF HIS TIME DOING: On the BP oil spill: “And the one thing that I think is important to underscore is that I would love to just spend a lot of my time venting and yelling at people. But that’s not the job I was hired to do.”

IT’S ALSO ABOUT WHETHER YOU WORE THE RIGHT CLOTHES WHEN YOU WENT TO EXAMINE THE SCENE: “And, ultimately, this isn’t about me and how angry I am.”

He displayed even less human emotion when asked about the flotillacide. He carefully – oh so carefully – refrained from blaming Israel – “I think that we need to know what all the facts are.” – choosing his words with exquisitely precise vagueness: “Well, you know, the United States, with the other members of the U.N. Security Council, said very clearly that we condemned all the acts that led up to this violence.” All the acts, which could mean acts by the peace activists or the commandos, or, really, the entire history of the world before this week. And “this violence,” which could mean that of the commandos or that of the flotillaites. The very last thing he’s willing to say is that shooting unarmed civilians repeatedly at close range is a, you know, bad thing. “You’ve got loss of life that was unnecessary.” Pretty much by definition for any death not the result of natural causes. “And so we are calling for an effective investigation of everything that happened.” You know, everything. Just couldn’t bring himself to utter a single statement that focused exclusively on the people with the assault rifles.

He did an even-handed description of the living conditions of Israelis and Palestinians. Israel has “missiles raining down on cities,” which certainly suggests a much more systematic and lethal state of affairs than actually exists. Come to think of it, the total number of Israelis killed by rockets in the last few years is about equal to the number of people killed in the flotillacide. “On the other hand,” Obama went on, “you’ve got a blockade up that is preventing people in Palestinian Gaza from having job opportunities and being able to create businesses and engage in trade and have opportunity for the future.” So all the years-long blockade of medicine and building supplies and for fuck’s sake nutmeg has done to the Palestinians is to deprive them of a few job opportunities? Comparing the continuous rain of missiles on Israeli cities and the Gazans not having job opportunities etc, which one sounds more like a humanitarian crisis?

Today -100: June 5, 1910: Of pygmies, and the great problems confronting the American people and the socialist American people

In response to reports that a hitherto-unknown tribe of pygmies (ave. 4' 3") has been found in Dutch New Guinea, the NYT editorializes lamely, “We are not in pressing need of pigmies. Small men abound the world over. Washington seems at present to be full of pigmies, and Albany has more than its share. ... Let the discoverers take new heart and look for giants. We need a few giants in all walks of life.”

In a speech in Jackson, Michigan, Taft says that Socialism is the great problem confronting the American people.

And Victor Berger, head of the socialists in Milwaukee, says that socialists’ great problem is Catholicism.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Today -100: June 4, 1910: Of scabs, spies, and horns

Two strikebreakers from the Philadelphia trolley strike were convicted for involuntary manslaughter for running down and killing two strikers. Sentence: 1 year.

In the trial of Cleveland Police Chief Fred Kohler, the chairman of the Civil Service Commission rules that it is perfectly proper for the chief to use city detectives to spy on public officials and prominent men to see which ones go to saloons (Cleveland was not dry) or disorderly houses.

A letter to the Times from Charles Vezin, presumably the painter, criticizes car horns, especially the new buzzer horns, as “aural dum dum bullets.” “It is the most aggressive, insolent, and misanthropic note that mechanical ingenuity has evolved.”

Reminds me: I saw a little roadster, c.1920, tooling down the road yesterday. The driver was holding a Starbucks cup, which just seemed wrong.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

We did not send bullies with knives and metal rods to TurkeyWe did not send bullies with knives and metal rods to Turkey

Hamas blocks entry of the flotilla aid into Gaza. Because they’re idiots. Turning back five truckloads of wheelchairs means they are now doing exactly what Israel is doing with the blockade, punishing ordinary Gazans for political reasons. Idiots.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says the “entire blame” for the flotillacide rests with Turkey: “We didn’t start this provocation, we did not send bullies with knives and metal rods to Turkey.”

China bans the use of evidence obtained through torture in courts. Um, good.

Today -100: June 3, 1910: Of peace, women grads, and the color line

Congress is working on a bill to create a commission to promote the cause of international peace, to be headed by ex-President Roosevelt.

Taft delivers the commencement address at Bryn Mawr, his daughter Helen’s school. He came out in support of higher education for women, which is good because otherwise it might have been a tad awkward. He said “I utterly dissent” from the notion “that the higher education of women rather unfits them for the duties of a wife and mother, that in some way or other it robs them of a charm and gives them an intellectual independence that is inconsistent with their being the best wives and mothers.” It isn’t “essential... that she should make the extent of her knowledge a source of discomfort to those with whom she associates, or that she should lose her interest in the sentiment and emotions of life, or fail to have an appreciation of beauty and romance.” However, he warned graduates against being discontented when they return to their homes; “A young lady with a higher education has much to learn after graduation in the homely details and the drudgery of ordinary life, and the sooner she learns it the happier”. He claimed that women teachers are paid less than men because of the laws of supply and demand.

The D.C. Supreme Court will decide if a white school has to accept a student (with “flaxen hair, blue eyes, a fair complexion”) it tried to exclude because she is 1/128th black. There was a word for that, by the way: mustee.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

It was a boat of hatred

Joe Biden says it was “legitimate” to board the flotilla, although “you can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not”. Not. And he wonders what the “big deal” (shouldn’t that be “big fucking deal”?) was about landing in Gaza rather than in an Israeli port. But since he says specifically of building materials, “they could have easily brought it in here and we’d get it through,” one has to wonder if Biden actually knows that Israel bans the entry of cement and other building material into Gaza. Indeed, possibly he doesn’t know that there’s a blockade of Gaza, which would explain why he doesn’t understand what the big deal is.

Biden says that an investigation run entirely by Israelis is just fine, comparing it to the investigation of North Korea allegedly sinking the South Korean sub being conduct by South Korea. For that comparison to work, wouldn’t the investigation have to have been conducted by North Korea?

Netanyahu says the flotilla was “directed by terrorists.” “That was not a Love Boat, it was a boat of hatred.”

Today -100: June 2, 1910: Of Jim Crow, talking to girls, mad Russians, and spurious frankfurters

The Supreme Court rules in Chiles v. Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad Company, that “separate but equal” accommodations on inter-state trains are okay, in effect reversing an 1875 decision that states could not impose Jim Crow laws on inter-state commerce (technically, the rules were those of the railway company, which just so happened to follow the Kentucky law, but the Court said that since Congress didn’t explicitly ban it from doing so, “the inaction of Congress was equivalent to the declaration that a carrier could, by regulations, separate colored and white interstate passengers”). The Court said, citing Plessy v. Ferguson, that “Regulations which are induced by the general sentiment of the community for whom they are made and upon whom they operate cannot be said to be unreasonable.” Incidentally, the black passenger in the case, James Alexander Chiles, was a lawyer who argued his own case and was (probably) the first black person to argue before the Supreme Court.

of the Day -100: “Taft Talks to Girls.” At the commencement exercises of Trinity College for Girls.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Beekman Winthrop says that “There is no danger of the brutalizing of our national character by a large navy”. So that’s all right then. Indeed, “no country has ever acted toward other countries with such altruistic motives as have marked our course in recent years toward Cuba, the Philippines, and Porto Rico.”

A mad Russian throws something first thought to be a bomb, but actually a can of beans, at Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm in Berlin. He missed.

A Chinese man tries to smuggle four pounds of opium into the country, concealed in “spurious frankfurters.” I love that phrase.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Hey philistines!

Yesterday I posted a link to the website of art student Emily Henochowicz, whose eye the Israelis shot out. Did even one of you click through to check out her art? No, you did not. Do it now. There will be a quiz later.

Today -100: June 1, 1910: Of pioneers and protectorates

Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor in the United States (though born in Britain), having graduated medical school in 1849, has died at 80.

The State Department is thinking about making Nicaragua a “protectorate.” Or possibly having Mexico make it a protectorate. Or just taking over its finances (the big worry for the US, naturally, is that both sides are trying to collect customs duties). The US policy for the last 6 months has been not to recognize either the Madriz government or the Estradists.