Friday, June 29, 2001

NY Times business section headline: "Burger King Pledges Humane Use of Animals." For example, they're planning to eliminate the 1% beef content of their hamburgers. According to the Burger King spokesmodel, "We are the caretakers of God's creation."

Vladimir Putin met Jack Nicholson yesterday, and I still haven't thought of anything funny to say about it. Evidently Putin's favorite movie of Nicholson's was the (banned in the USSR) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Putin was in the KGB at the time, so he may have thought it was a comedy.

Cheney is getting a pacemaker. Well, they're always saying that Bush is "a little slow," so maybe Cheney should just use him. Cheney said "that he had no long-term concerns about his health". Maybe he should re-phrase that.

So the writer who led Clarence Thomas's character assassination of Anita Hill admits that he made stuff up and blackmailed a witness with information supplied by Thomas. I've been waiting all week since then for anyone, and I mean anyone at all in politics or the media or professional wrestling, to call for his resignation. No one else has, so consider it done. As I remarked in my corner of the ether when Clinton admitted lying to everyone including the Cabinet members who he had front for him about That Woman and no one resigned in protest, shame is absolutely dead in politics.

Wednesday, June 27, 2001

So every review of Tomb Raider (and no, I wasn't thinking of seeing it, but I do enjoy reviews of bad movies) mentions Angelina Jolie's physical attributes. One could say that they review Angelina Jolie's physical attributes. The NY Times Week In Review section had excerpts from a bunch of reviews just about her lips, but let's face it, even the Daily Show's incredibly gay film reviewer talked about her breasts. When did this become ok? Indeed, is it ok, given that the studios do spend a lot of money to buy a nice pair of breasts, with actress attached, in the hope of using them to open a movie. In Swordfish, for example, a badly reviewed film that just opened, Halle Barrie went topless for the first time and was paid an extra $250,000. Each. Under those circumstances, perhaps it would be appropriate to review the breasts just as one would do for any other expensive special effect ("Every penny is right there up on the screen"). Maybe we need another drawing for that little man in the SF Chronicle.

I forgot to mention the initiative in North Dakota to change its name to Dakota, because evidently "North Dakota" evokes an image of boredom and cold. Or is that Canada?

Monday, June 25, 2001

In case you thought Iran was going to rejoin civilization, the mad mullahs rule that a woman should be flogged 100 times and then stoned while buried up to her neck (men are buried up to their waist and if they have confessed and can escape, they go free). Evidently the size of the stones is carefully regulated. If she survives, which she won't, she gets 16 years in jail. It's for adultery and murder, if that matters, although last month a woman was stoned to death for acting in porno films. Everyone's a critic.

That whole squeaky clean Vicente Fox was trying for didn't last very long. Elected on an austerity campaign, he is refurbishing the presidential mansion, and I really would like to know what you get if you spend $443 each on bath towels. The remote control curtains are $19,000 each.

Sony, the company recently discovered to have invented fake reviewers for its print ads and fake "real people" for its commercials, has rented some real US Army Rangers and combat helicopters for a Ridley Scott film. Better yet, the US military is being deployed in a foreign country--Morocco--on behalf of a movie studio.

Ethnic cleansing comes to Macedonia. Serbs are rioting because of a cease-fire. And that's the side we're on.

Saturday, June 23, 2001

In today's mail I received a form from my insurance
company telling me that they'd re-evaluated one of last year's claims and are increasing their payment by $0.12.

Friday, June 22, 2001

Nixon's dog Checkers is to be dug up and buried next to Nixon in Yorba Linda. Next to Nixon for all eternity.

A couple of Russian military planes were almost seized by debt collectors at a Paris air show, but flew off instead, as planes will do.

Interesting piece by William Saletan in Slate comparing the strategies of anti-abortion and anti-death penalty activists.
He says that the foot-in-the-door, slippery-slope strategy that led the former to go after so-called partial-birth abortions is being replicated by the latter in going after the execution of the mentally retarded.

Thursday, June 21, 2001

Dead children, dead dog, dead hot tub...

The father of the 5 children whose mother killed them explains: "She wasn't in the right frame of mind." That cleared it up for me, so I didn't bother to read the actual story.

The guy who threw the dog into traffic in a road rage incident (very big news in the Bay Area for a while), is sentenced to 3 years in prison, which the Daily Show explained is actually 21 anal-rape years.

A Washington Post story explains that the California fake energy crisis is damaging the hot tub business. I foresee a mass exodus from Marin County. Something like the Okies, but with hot tubs strapped to the SUVs as they seek a better life.

Bush sent a messenger to Congress to threaten to veto the Patients' Bill of Rights, as they were discussing it. I mean a formal messenger, not quite up to Black Rod's standards, but some sort of formal thing I don't recall having seen before. I watched a bit of the debate on C-SPAN, or actually I watched Phil Gramm for two minutes, after which I felt like I needed health care. He was explaining how forcing health plans to cover Emergency Room visits made ERs unwilling to negotiate prices with insurance companies because under this provision they could charge whatever they wanted, so really we should be restricting people's ability to go to emergency rooms. That sort of logic is the best argument there is for a single-payer health plan. There is an article by Michael Kinsley on this in Slate that's worth reading.

So a 62-year old woman had implanted an embryo from her brother, crippled by 1992 since he tried to blow his brains out. It's not incest, she insists, because the egg, obviously, isn't hers. The offspring would ensure inheritance worth $3 million. On today's Jerry Springer: high tech hillbillies. Worse, they're French.

Wednesday, June 20, 2001

Jesse Helms is complaining that Bush Lite over-praised
Vladimir Putin. "For these reasons," Helms said, "Mr. Putin was far from deserving the powerful political prestige and influence that comes from an excessively personal endorsement by the president of the Untied States." (typo courtesy of the AP). Yes, Jesse, George Bushs's opinion really does carry that much weight in the world. I know I had to rethink my opinion of Putin because George looked into his soul. Yes, Bush's recommendation is worth a shade below that of one in an ad for a Sony movie.

Saw someone in a t-shirt in Berkeley the other day that said "Satan is a big pooh-pooh head". Probably a Graduate Theological Union student.

Failed to catch the state opening of Parliament today, though I suppose it's available on the Web. I always like to see them slam the door on Black Rod, which only sounds dirty. Only caught some of the provisions of the Queen's Speech before the London Times website packed up, but evidently Blair will eliminate jury trials, the presumption of innocence, and protection against double jeopardy.

But not fox hunting, not yet anyway. The queen practically ran out of the chamber after reading the speech in her usual monotone, so that she could get to the races.

The next feminist outrage (that is, outrage to feminists), will be a study from St Lawrence University which says that women are more likely to get pregnant from rape than from consensual sex
(8% v. 3.1% for women who are using no contraception and actually trying to get pregnant). This "proves," sort of, that rape is a sound evolutionary strategy, which is why it will piss feminists off.

Tuesday, June 19, 2001

The floodgates are open. The 2nd federal execution. The Attorney general, who doesn't see how 17 of 19 people on the federal death row being non-white could possibly be racist, insists that this execution is ok, because not only is the prisoner Hispanic, but so were his victims and the judge and I forget who else, maybe the prosecutor and some of the jurors. No, Mr. Ashcroft, that's why those people are allowed to call Garza a "wet-back" or possible a "beaner" and you are not, not why he should be executed. Ignoring that his consular rights and a couple of international treaties were violated, the jury was told that he committed murders in Mexico (in addition to those with which he was charged), despite not having been convicted in Mexico--or indeed tried--or indeed arrested.

According to Putin, the arms race is back on.
Thanks, Georgie.

Well, this whole post-Cold War thing is a real let-down anyway. Bulgaria just put its old child king back in charge, despite the fact that he's spent only 2 months of the last 55 years in the country. I'm sure that all his experience in fascist Spain will be a big help in getting Bulgaria back on its feet.

Putin says that he tried out his not very good English on Bush, but he thinks Bush only pretended to understand him. There isn't any joke I could put here that wouldn't be too easy.

Saturday, June 16, 2001

Dubya was in Poland yesterday. So the prime minister of Poland, whoever that is, turned to him and said, "Hey I just heard a great joke. How many George Bushes does it take...."

This is his first visit to Europe and I'm reminded of Reagan's first visit to South America, when he came back with the revelation that they were all like different countries down there. Bush has learned the opposite lesson. "I will express to President Putin that Russia is a part of Europe". I'm sure he'll be happy to hear that. Don't tell George that Russia is also a part of Asia; it'll just confuse him. His speech was one long geography lesson. "Our vision of Europe must also include the Balkans." (Headline elsewhere in the Times: US Doesn't Want to Join Any NATO Mission Into Macedonia). "The Europe we are building must include Ukraine". Poland is evidently at the heart of Europe. The Baltics, on the other hand, didn't get a look in.

All of Europe's new democracies, he said, should have the same chance to join the institutions of Europe as Europe's "old democracies." Well, I said it was a geography lesson, not a history lesson. Old democracies indeed. Bush thanked Poland for acting as a bridge to the new democracies of Europe. That's usually what people--Stalin and Hitler, say--call Poland before they send tanks across it. The autobahn of Europe. I trust you noticed that the "institutions of Europe" meant NATO. He assured Russia that NATO is not an enemy of Russia. I said it was not a history lesson. He also said that Poland was not an enemy of Russia. I believe I just said it was not a history lesson. He also said that Warsaw was "razed by the Nazis and destroyed by the Soviets. Its people were mostly displaced." All except the spleens, I guess. When exactly did the Soviets destroy Warsaw?

Amusingly, he defined Communism as materialism and said that man (for a speech presumably written by Condi, its language is consistently sexist; it would not have gone over well if it had been turned in for the Stevenson Core Course) must find goals greater than mere consumption. This is George "You'll take the gear shift of my SUV when you pry it from my cold dead hands" Bush talking.

His aides are telling the papers that behind closed doors Bush is actually a serious statesman. That's interesting, because behind closed doors I'm actually quite thin.

Hey, trust Bush to go to Sweden, Sweden mind you, and start riots and shootings.

A Japanese court rules that compensation to atomic bomb survivors doesn't apply to those living outside the country, like say Koreans brought to Japan as slaves.

British supermarkets are working on changing fruit in order to make it more appealing to children. They're going to carbonate it. Really. Oranges and grapes are said to taste quite good carbonated, but the tomatoes are a bit strange. And it doesn't work with bananas, which explode if you try it. Actually, that would appeal to children too.

Something that never occurred to me. Mein Kampf is still under copyright. The copyright is held by the Bavarian finance ministry, but the book is banned in Germany. In Britain, the money since 1976 has been going to a charity for Jewish refugees from Germany.

Thursday, June 14, 2001

The likely next mayor of Berlin is openly gay--the most prominent German gay politician. In contrast, the British Tory party's next leader, at the very least, has had some gay experiences.

FAIR points out that the treasury secretary would like to abolish corporate taxes. Also Social Security and Medicare. I had noticed at the time, but hadn't realized that it was completely buried. This is the same guy who decided to hold on to stock he was supposed to have divested himself of until his boss's policies made their value go way up. And Karl Rove met the CEO of a company he has stock in to advise him on a merger which will make the value of that stock go up. Nice to know that this admin is as ethical as we expect from Republicans.

Incidentally, in 1951 British intelligence concluded that the US was planning a preventive nuclear strike on the USSR in 1952.

Monday, June 11, 2001

A LAY preacher who claimed that God would look after him yesterday failed to persuade magistrates that divine protection was a substitute for motor insurance.

Peter David, 66, who preaches in chapels and on street
corners across South Wales, tried to persuade police that he had the highest level of cover of all, and that it meant he did not need an MoT certificate or road tax either.

Sunday, June 10, 2001


In the touristy part of Spain, the Catholic church has grappled with the problem of offering confession to non-Spanish-speaking tourists. The answer: multiple choice forms in several languages.

According to the Saturday NY Times (so it must be true, right?), the president of Friends of Animals is named Priscilla Feral.

Thursday, June 07, 2001

British election

A fairly boring election, but I watched 5 hours of it today. It was too hot to do anything else.

Blair's favorite adviser Peter Mandelson, who's been disgraced, rehabilitated, disgraced and not-quote-rehabilitated since the last election, gives a victory speech talking about his enemies taking a pound of flesh. Euro of flesh, surely?

Normally, these speeches are fairly anodyne, but one Labour victor attacked his opponent for running an especially contemptible race. That opponent: Mark Reckless.

There is a man in a crab suit running for Parliament in Kensington.

One independent candidate wins on a platform of saving the local hospital--that's his whole platform.

Given the reform of the House of Lords, it is possible for the first time for a hereditary peer to be elected to the Commons, and one is, the Earl of Thurso (LibDem, Cairthness). That means that the Commons are no longer common (the giant crab would have done that just as well).

Wednesday, June 06, 2001

Maintaining calm

NY Times headline: "CIA Chief Going to Israel in Effort to Maintain Calm." Now most people would count to 100 or something. If he did maintain calm, he would be the first person to go to Israel and do so.

Ariel Sharon for example called Arafat a murderer and pathological liar this week.

Speaking of war criminals, I think I forgot to mention that when Henry Kissinger was in Paris last week, a court issued him a summons relative to some French citizens murdered by the Chilean junta in the 1970s. He decided he was too busy. I didn't know you could do that.

For the most tentative endorsement I've ever heard, click here for John Cleese's radio ad (a bit under 2 minutes) for the Lib Dems.

George "A Uniter not a Divider (especially long division)" Bush: "Those who worry about faith in our society, and government's willingness to stand side by side with faith, don't understand the power of faith and the promise of faith and the hope of faith," he said.

He also said, in a press conference about losing the Senate, that every day is a great day when you're president.

Yech. And also how John McCain is his bestest friend. The NY Times ran a headline a few days ago that the people of Arizona were telling McCain to "stick to his own kind," which I thought was very West Side Story of them.

Tuesday, June 05, 2001

Save the groat

Yet another Mugabe supporter dies. "Hitler" Hunzvi, dead of "malaria" (actually witchcraft, but there's a cover-up), turns out to have had a Polish wife. That's just too weird.

French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, who looks more like Dr. Strangelove than any man alive, evidently first joined the Parti Socialist in 1971 as a Trotskyite infiltrator. Until this week he had always denied his Trot past.

The new Nepalese king's coronation time is still being determined by the court astrologer (also hereditary). In yet another cover-up, he is claiming to have "lost" the astrological chart of two-kings-and-five-days-ago Birendra, since someone who's supposed to be able to predict the future might right now have some 'splaining to do. He also denies knowledge of the prediction which caused Birendra to order Dippy not to marry before 35.

Another return-of-the-Reaganite-living dead: Richard Perle is back.

In case you haven't picked it up, Jenna Bush's recent drinking arrest was her third, counting one when she was 16.

British election in two days. Hague ran against Europe, Blair refused to discuss Europe. Hague said that this was the last chance to "save the pound," despite the promise of a referendum before Britain joins the single currency. The Tories say that Labour will "rig" the referendum, although Labour says it will probably be a really complicated question like "Do you favor adopting the euro?" or "Euro--you like?" The Tories want the question to be, "Are you willing to ditch the pound?" The Guardian has been running features on other currencies of the past. I had no idea the florin was still in use as late as 1993.

A thief took sleeping tablets to calm his nerves while robbing a Jordanian hospital pharmacy. He woke up to find himself in the hands of the police.

Monday, June 04, 2001

The Nepalese are claiming that the assault rifle went off by accident. Oops.

As I write, C-SPAN has the BBC Newsnight program on; a focus group has been asked to compare the party leaders to a beverage.

Earlier, Blair was interviewed and was asked if it was ok for the gap between rich and poor to increase. He refused to answer as the question was repeated maybe six times, but the answer is obviously yes.

The Tories have given up on winning, not that they ever had a chance, and are asking people to give Blair something less than a landslide to wipe the grin off his face. This strategy is likely to be more successful than asking people to vote for them. No one wants to see Hague in office, but no one wants to see Tony grin
either. The main problem in any sure-thing election is apathy.

The Times notes the counter-attractions:
Thursdays television schedule gives the apathetic voter plenty
of scope for staying on the sofa. Rather than heading for
the ballot box, the Royle families of this world will be able to indulge in Carol Smillies Holiday Swaps, EastEnders and Through the Keyhole on BBC1 or The Weakest Link and Ready, Steady, Cook on BBC2. Other terrestrial delights to keep them sprawled on their settees include Crossroads, Wheel of Fortune and Emmerdale on ITV, several Big Brother fixes on Channel 4 and Open House with Gloria Hunniford on Channel 5.

From the Post:
Chief Justice Earl Warren once signed an opinion in which a six-member majority of the Supreme Court referred to people "afflicted with homosexuality." His successor, Warren E. Burger, once wrote of gays as "sex deviates." The current chief justice, William H. Rehnquist, likened a university's refusal to recognize a gay student group to measures necessary to prevent the spread of measles.

Singing Dingoes Stole My Baby: The Sydney Opera House will stage an opera based on the famous event. And yes, there really will be singing dingoes.

Saturday, June 02, 2001

The guy who invented Survivor got the idea at a British public school.

Speaking of which, Crown Prince, now King, soon Corpse Dipendra of Nepal was at Eton. Where they called him "Dippy."

Evidently the French are a little pissed that the new US ambassador doesn't speak French. He speaks baseball. 3 European nations are soon to get former baseball team owners as ambassadors. Can you name them all?

Friday, June 01, 2001

Last week Bush was telling graduating Yailies that if they were C students, they could still be president. Do you think he's saying the same thing to do his daughters about their drinking?

Timothy McVeigh has dedicated his life to "bringing integrity to the criminal justice system. So it will all have been worth it.

Many laws have provisions for citizens to sue to enforce them, including civil rights and environmental laws. They typically have provisions for the compensation for court courts to those who bring them and win. The Supreme Court brilliantly just decided that they don't get costs if a deal is done outside of court. So a government that doesn't want to enforce civil rights or environmental laws--not that such a thing is conceivable in this country--might drag a case out as long and expensively as possible, and then give in just before going to court. This is the most important of recent Supreme Court decisions, but not much attention has been paid.

The INS is introducing two-tier service, with faster work visas for those willing to pay more.

The Washington Post has articles on the Florida elections, again. My favorite detail: while a bunch of counties had machines that could detect voting errors, two decided to switch them off. Giving someone a new ballot would cost 25%. The article makes clearer than before how arbitrary and numerous were the differences in aspects of the election from one county to the other.

Trend you didn't need to know about:
THREE million Chinese drink their own urine to improve their
health. "It has no bacteria and is more sanitary than blood,"
said Prof Yang Liansheng, of the Liaoning Institute.