Wednesday, September 29, 1999

Dubya thinks Buchanan should stay in the Republican party. This whole thing is cynical as hell. The Reform Party wants him, mostly, because he might get them the 5% they need to get big federal matching funds next time around; the federal money is the only reason Buchanan would consider the party to begin with. Dubya is willing to overlook the whole Hitler thing for fear of losing votes (asked his own opinions on Hitler, he responded that he would not play the politics of personal destruction [joke from the Daily Show]).

Read the AP report, which can be found in the NY Times but not the Post, on the US massacre of Koreans during the Korean War.

Speaking of war crimes, General Pinochet’s lawyer, who yesterday were pleading for him to be released because of his poor health, stirring up all the sympathy they could, today say that the dead people named in the Spanish indictment don’t count as torture victims because the electric shocks killed them so quickly.

Gary Bauer held a news conference to announce that he was not having an affair with a young campaign worker. His Christian loon aides resigned because, well they don’t say they think he had the affair, just that he spent time alone with a woman, and Christians evidently don’t do that.

Invention of the week: a see-through toaster.

Tuesday, September 28, 1999

It seems that the new Israeli government is approving settlements even faster than Netanyahu did. Also, Israel is training torturers in an infamous (there’s a word I don’t often use!) prison run by the South Lebanese Army with Israeli funding. They torture people to death there.

Dan Quayle drops out of the race, blames lack of money but oddly does not call for campaign finance reform. Don’t laugh, this is Al Gore 4 or 8 years from now.

Misspelling in a fortune cookie: “The best profit of future is the past.”

At the Labour Party conference today, Tony Blair declared the class war over. Evidently the middle class have won. Outside, a demonstration raged. In favor of fox-hunting. Tally ho!

Monday, September 27, 1999


New York magazine competition, messages for two sides of a business or visiting card.

Michael Corleone. 1. Never ask me about my
2. business card.

1. Cabinets, Bureaus, Desks
2. Water into Wine

Dan Quayle:
1. Please see other side.
2. Please see other side.

Emily Dickinson:
1. I’m nobody.
2. Who are you?

1. Stephen Baldwin
2. No, no, no--_Stephen_.

1. Jack Benny
2. Please return to Jack Benny.

1. A. F. Mobius
2. A. F. Mobius

1. Shirley MacLaine--Actress, Author
2. 100% Recycled Paper

1. Inspector 12
2. Inspected by Inspector 12

Noah Webster:
1. Obverse.
2. Reverse.

1. Philipphilipphilipphilip
2. Glassglassglassglass

1. Lemuel Gulliver
2. No job too big or too small

1. Ishmael
2. Call me.

[NOTE: More New York Magazine competitions here.]

Saturday, September 25, 1999

Stupid Hollywood idea of the week: a remake of Barbarella. Drew Barrymore?

So there’s this guy in the part of Poland ceded to Russia in 1940. After the German invasion, he decides, in 1942 to go into hiding in the attic, because it’s scary out there and Germans are killing Ukrainians. The Red Army sweeps in in 1944 and he was thinking about coming out and joining them, but they didn’t give the soldiers leather jackets and he had a cold. “I’ll just wait till spring,” he thought. Germany loses and, well, people who evaded joining the Great Patriotic War were being punished. So long story medium, he’s been living in an attic 57 years and came out because his sister died.

Friday, September 24, 1999

The Daily Telegraph observes that the list of targets Russia has been bombing in Chechnya looks remarkably like the targets NATO bombed in Kosovo. You’ll remember I predicted this a month or two ago.

A truly creepy Hungarian married couple have just had his and hers (or is it hers and his?) sex-change operations.

The Official Monster Raving Loony party in Britain, replaces its late leader Screaming Lord Sutch, with a joint-leadership after the two candidates tied. Alan Hope, mayor of Ashburton, will share the duties with his cat Mandu.

All those East Timorese refugees in West Timor out of the reach of the Australian and Ghurka troops seem to be being held as hostages by the militias. Not good.

Bumper sticker: Earth First. We’ll Ruin the Other Planets Later. Another: Honk if You Inhale.

Sunday, September 19, 1999

So an executive at the Disney on-line service used the Internet to pick up under-age girls. I can’t even begin to come up with a joke funny enough to cover that one.

Fascism is on the rise in Austria, if yesterday’s regional election in Vorarlberg is anything to go on. 27.5%. And the German SPD loses its 5th election in a row, Saxony this time, coming in with half the votes as the former communists, who we really need to start calling something better than former communists.

Saturday, September 18, 1999

The Sunday NY Times contains the longest list I’ve seen yet of the 50 approved slogans for the 50th anniversary of the communist takeover of China. Also an article about Iceland’s belief in elves. Which are both fun, but the paper still hasn’t found space for the news that Israeli PM Barak wants legislation to re-legalize torture.

Looking through some of my old e-mails, I found that back in May I was complaining about the US training Indonesia in police procedures. I suggested that we were heading towards complicity in the creation of death squads, just like in Central America in the 1980s and South America in the 1970s. I just mention this as preface for the following: I told you so.

In the stupid Hollywood ideas department, Harrison Ford says he’s not too old (58) to do another Indiana Jones movie. The London Times comment was that the next time he finds a valuable ancient relic... And there is talk of reviving Are You Being Served (the horror, the horror), and of reviving Dr. Who--to be directed by the creators of the Blair Witch Project.

Wednesday, September 15, 1999

New York magazine competition, unusual greeting cards:

So you’re a juror at my brother Vinnie’s trial!

A belated message of forewarning.

Thanks, but do I know you?

Sharing in your profound disappointment with Eyes Wide Shut.

We are so, like, not thinking of you.

I’m so sorry to hear your friend has succeeded.

Welcome back from your alien abduction

Thanks for the alibi.

You’re a girl!

To my husband’s mistress on her 21st birthday.

So you’ve discovered your husband’s computer password.

Congratulations on adopting a highway.

Thank you for the soft money.

Thinking of you as you face damnation.

So you’re the master of your domain!

Here’s wishing you and yours a rapturous apocalypse.

[NOTE: More New York Magazine competitions here.]

Monday, September 13, 1999

The New Statesman’s columnist Suzanne Moore, writing about attempts by British politicians to make themselves liked, says some things that are applicable to American politics. She asks why don’t we just accept that they are ambitious aliens with a very narrow set of interests which makes them good at their job but not necessarily someone we want to be friends with. The things that politicians do in order to be liked are to far outside the realms of normal behaviour that it is very difficult to relate to them as people we might like at all: kissing available babies, accosting strangers in the street, getting engaged for the sake of a career, taking part in sporting events in which they have no interest (see Hillary Clinton in NY).

Thursday, September 09, 1999

More pink laundry/bring out your dead/intervention

A British prisoner sues because his shirt turned pink in the wash.

The CBS/Viacom merger, beyond being inherently evil in itself, is another merger whose whole basis is that the government will get out of its way and waive any little anti-trust, media monopoly regulations standing in its way.

Dubya’s entry into the Texas Air National Guard was indeed eased by political intervention. Yeah, yeah, we all knew that, but it seems the intervention came from the (Democratic) speaker of the Texas Lege, who by the way got that job at 26 and was washed up by our age.

My favorite British politician died this week, and by favorite I mean most entertaining. Alan Clark’s obit in Wednesday’s London Times is the most entertaining article I’ve read in some time. The battle to replace him in the safe Tory seat of Kensington & Chelsea will be an interesting one, and possibly the beginning of the end for poor hapless William Jefferson Hague. Michael Portillo is expected to return to Parliament. I think I mentioned a couple of weeks back, or maybe I didn’t, that Blair’s attempt to make Peter Mandelson minister of defence was foundering on the Dark Prince’s homosexuality. Well, it seems that Portillo is now admitting to a few youthful indiscretions along those lines himself. Portillo was Major’s defence minister, when he (as recently as 1996) defended the ban on gays in the military. In 1997, Portillo lost his seat to a Labourite homosexual.

Janet Reno’s decision to appoint John Danforth to investigate Waco just shows that she doesn’t have cable tv, where last week was shown a docudrama of the Clarence Thomas hearings, reminding us of Danforth’s role in that. The scene of him and Thomas praying on a bathroom floor with the Battle Hymn of the Republic, or whatever it was, playing on a tape recorder, was taken from real life.

Why precisely do we need Indonesian permission to send UN troops into East Timor if their illegal occupation was never recognized in the first place?

More British news about pink laundry--evidently it’s just that sort of a news week. A dry cleaner is being sued for turning a tea stain on an expensive silk sheet into a pink tint. The suer is someone who in 1995 won 11 million pounds in the lottery.

Chicago-style politics, Indian-style: it is common practice in India to declare people dead so that you can “inherit” their land. Now the dead not only vote, they have organized a political party, and will oppose the prime minister in his seat at the next general election.

Thursday, September 02, 1999

You know how to whistle, don’t you?

NY Times headline: “White House Seekers Wear Faith on Sleeve and Stump”. Stump? Did someone have a thresher accident while campaigning in Iowa?

NY mayor Benito Giuliani is currently serving as a juror in the case of a man whose genitals were scalded. So suddenly this poor schmuck, who maybe didn’t want quite this much publicity for his case, is plastered all over the NY media.

It seems the Germans covered up the fact that aspirin was discovered by a Jew. An obvious joke comes to mind, but I’d best not.

Cliff’s Notes is to do versions of the “For Dummies” books. Civilization has officially ended.

Yet another school has banned Huckleberry Finn: Mark Twain Intermediate in Houston (this is an Internet story, so take it with a grain of salt--if someone knows for a fact that this is real please say so).

From the London Times:

SPANISH schoolchildren on La Gomera in the Canary Islands are to be forced to take classes in the art of whistling.

The island’s government has decided that children will have to learn the whistling language that has been used by Gomeran shepherds for centuries. The language, which is believed to predate Spanish on the island, was developed as a way of communicating across the deep valleys that cut its mountainous terrain.

Children will be expected to learn to carry out conversations between hilltop and hilltop from a distance of up to two miles. Whistling classes will form an obligatory part of primary education and will become voluntary in secondary education.

Experts say that the Gomera silbo, or whistle, is not a language of its own but uses whistling sounds to imitate the syllables of speech. Whistlers use not just the mouth, but also their fingers and hands to vary the tones and increase the distance.

They place their fingers in their mouths to alter the shape and positioning of their tongues. Cupped hands allow the sound to travel further.

The silbo has similarities to the whistle language used by the peoples of the Atlas Mountains in North Africa.

The Gomera whistle was almost lost in the 1960s, when only a handful of shepherds still knew how to communicate with it. Some local historians have claimed that General Franco’s administrators on the island discouraged its use because they did not know what people were saying.

The silbo has since gained great popularity and the island, which has 17,000 inhabitants, has introduced an annual whistling day.

Experts admit, however, that whistling is a somewhat limited way of talking. “You can carry out conversations but there are not many things you can talk about,” Juan Evaristo, a local education director, said.