Wednesday, August 12, 1998

The Nevis referendum on independence from St. Kitts failed to win the necessary 2/3.

Hillary Clinton says that it's just anti-Arkansas prejudice fueling the attacks on husband Bill (if your idea of a good time is oral sex from the chubby much younger intern, you just might be a redneck) Clinton.

Sony accidentally invented and sold the #1 item on the wish list of teenage boys everywhere, the x-ray specs. Their camcorder's night vision filter (for filming sleeping babies and philandering husbands) can pretty much see through clothing in the right light.

Somebody from the Carter Center was showing a bunch of Chinese visitors how democracy worked by taking them along while he voted in the Georgia primaries. Where he was promptly refused a ballot in his own party, as they kept insisting he was a Republican. The Chinese, according to the Washington Post, were baffled. When it was finally straightened out, the guy voted in the Democratic primaries, in which there was only one candidate for governor. The Post doesn't say, but one presumes the Chinese were less baffled by that.

The Post has an article on welfare reform which says that a major cause of the shrinking rolls is not people being kicked off, but hurdles being put in the way of people ever getting on to begin with. Sometimes they get one-time payments, which may be all they need. Some are made to go after 40 job opportunities first, which may work. Oregon gives people one-way tickets to California, which works for Oregon. But mostly this has a sense of being number-mongering, that civil servants are now being made to go after lower welfare caseloads based strictly on numbers, in the same way that the lowering crime rate is partly based on police departments, under pressure to get those numbers, downgrading crimes, and of course Robert MacNamara's famous body-counts. A civil servant with a quota of people to screw over makes the spine shiver even more than "I'm from the government, I'm here to help." No one knows how many just give up when they realize there will just be more stupid hurdles endlessly. One civil servant saw nothing wrong with forcing people to rely on relatives, which should ensure that the really poor drag down the not-quite-so-poor.

Speaking of unfortunate relatives, Mark Thatcher, idiot son of Margaret, who made his money in illegal arms deals in the 1980s and security services in the US in the 1990s, has a new career: loan-sharking to the underpaid police and civil servants of South Africa, where he now lives.

Finally, for Bay Area residents: Channel 20's new owners are ditching the dogs. Boooo!

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