Sunday, December 30, 2001

The EU is great, isn't it? Spain just released the country's largest drug smuggler on bail pending a trial at which he faced a 60 year prison term, because evidently jails frighten him. It's a phobia, see? The EU has turned Spain into Sweden, that's the only explanation.

The guy disappeared, of course.

India has given Pakistan a list of 30 people it wants turned over, and also says that it can win a nuclear war.

Saturday, December 29, 2001

I mentioned that Sharon's choice for head anti-terrorism adviser had killed Palestinian prisoners with a rock, but should have made it clear that Sharon knew it. The man, of course, was pardoned and never served a day.

A Dutch man called his wife and told her he'd been kidnapped, in order to spend Christmas with his mistress.

A Utah company is adding to the DVD player what it surely needed: censorship. Don't want to see Kate Winslet's boobs in Titanic (or any other movie she's ever made), or those disquieting dead people in Saving Private Ryan? You'll be able to download a "fix," putting a corset on Kate and flak over the corpses.

I can't believe it took so long, but Pakistan finally threatened India with nukes (for the first time this month, anyway). And India is busily preparing camoflage for the Taj Mahal.

Remember all those movies about the pyramids in Egypt being constructed by slaves dragging huge rocks? Nope, it seems the pyramids aren't carved stone at all but were molded on site.

Getting anxious for the US to pick on another country? Somalia, Iraq, whatever? It seems the real reason that it hasn't happened is that after bombing Sudan, Afghanistan and Kosovo with hundreds of cruise missiles, we're almost out of stock. There are still Tomahawks, but their range isn't long enough to reach many of the targets inside Iraq, and that would leave the Navy without missiles.

Thursday, December 27, 2001

Said a producer of Ally McBeal, "I wish Ally McBeal and other shows could be [in Afghanistan] to show them what the real world is like."

Israel's High Court says that Sharon's top anti-terrorism adviser must step down, and all he did wrong was beat two Palestinian prisoners to death with a rock 17 years ago.

Tony Blair, on vacation in Egypt, is present as a 4,600 year old skeleton is dug up, and is now subject to a curse. Sadly, he is to be eaten by a crocodile, a hippopatamus and a lion.

Wednesday, December 26, 2001

I don't know what my neighbors have been up to, but our garbage can has melted.

Goodbye, Sir Humphrey Appleby.

Tom Friedman of the NY Times suggests dealing with terrorism by having everyone fly naked (which would also keep the religious fanatics off). I just want to point out that I suggested this for schools after Columbine, as taking care of both the concealed weapons problem and the school uniforms issue. But did anyone listen, no they did not.

According to the Post, the government's adopt a wild horse program is still leading straight to the Alpo factory.

The Post also says that Bush is going to his ranch for "only" the 2nd time since 9/11. Poor baby, only 2 vacations in 3 months, how sad.

The Post also observes a last-minute sweetheart deal to Boeing, whereby the government leased 4 airplanes instead of buying them outright, at an increased cost of only $7 billion (or $26 billion, if you question the need to buy the planes in the first place).

All the Justice Department money for DNA testing of potentially innocent people went instead to DNA testing to see which blob of World Trade Center victim goes into which tupperware container.

To end on a happy note, Cambodia has been cracking down on vice lately, and is threatening to destroy karoake bars with tanks.

Tuesday, December 25, 2001

The British can bet on anything, elections, the Booker prize, dog shows, and yes, whether or not it will be a white Christmas. It was, so the punters are happy.

Israel did keep Arafat from Christmas mass, which would suggest to some their continuing unfitness to superintend the holy sites and the illegitimacy of their claim to Jerusalem. Today, 3 people die in Palestinian protests about Arafat not being allowed to worship Christ, or something.

The Germans are trying to figure out how to dispose of several trillion deutschmarks, as the euro comes in. You can buy a bag of shredded marks to use as confetti. It is waxed, so is not appropriate as toilet paper.

Monday, December 24, 2001

Israel says that Arafat cannot go to Bethlehem unless he arrests two of the assassins of the tourism minister. How very Christmassy. I think myrrh is a bit more traditional, but what the hell.

Something must be wrong with me: I can't think of anything funny to say about exploding shoes.

Saturday, December 22, 2001

The Observer suggests that I was right about that Afghan convoy and how it got targeted. Today the US military claimed that the convoy had shot a missile at it, which seems an odd thing not to have reported yesterday if true.

Friday, December 21, 2001

Sign seen in Berkeley: "The world does not need another unjust war." Damn, some planets are so hard to shop for.

License plate seen on Highway 24: "JaneEyre." "Reader I married him, moved to the suburbs, and bought an SUV."

The "Today's Paper" for Friday in Slate has an amusing comparison of quotes from newspapers stories of sightings of the giant squid and bin Laden, respectively.

Pakistan demands proof from India before arresting the people responsible for the attacks on its parliament. Although this sounds familiar, the US is still on Pakistan's side. India does seem to be planning war.

The US bombed a convoy today, killing many. It says Al Qaeda leaders, others say tribal leaders and supporters of the new interim warlord-in-chief (who we also almost hit with a bomb). Reading in between the lines of the London Times report, I'll bet it turns out that certain members of the coalition fed false information to US intelligence to get it to wipe out other members of the coalition. I'll also bet this will never be admitted.

The Israeli army has inflicted on those officers who planted the booby traps in Palestine killing 5 boys on their way to school a jolly stiff... reprimand.

Congress abandons efforts to protect the insurance industry from having to pay out for future terrorist attacks--at least for now.

Unless of course you count the victims' fund, one condition of which is that recipients not sue the airlines. Since when is federal relief money conditioned on not suing private companies? One might also ask why they're being paid anything, since private charities including the Red Cross already have enough to make the 9/11 survivors all very comfortable indeed without tossing in another average $1.6 million each from tax dollars. Or is that what a Republican would say?
The US position on the attack on the Indian Parliament is exactly the same as that of Pakistan: India should share its intelligence with Pakistan, which will no doubt be eager to assist. And even more eager to find out how much India knows about what it's up to. Think about this for a moment. Even forgetting that the US is backing the probable aggressor in an attempt to wipe out India's leadership (no great loss, some would say), but its position is so naive as to suggest that no one spent even a minute thinking about it before issuing a statement, which is a little frightening given that these two countries are volatile and nuked up.

Speaking of statements issued hurriedly, the US is now giving a new transcript of that Osama bin Laden tape, which supposedly they sat on for a month and then translated very hurriedly last week and released while still incomplete. Again, how stupid are we supposed to be? They're spending billions to "bring bin Laden to justice," but only started translating a tape of him after having it in their possession a couple of weeks? And evidently, he called black people a naughty word ("slaves"). Take that, Barbara Lee!

Thursday, December 20, 2001

Two members of Parliament complained to the British tv regulatory agency about having been tricked into appearing in a hoax documentary, in which they decried a (fictional) internet game in which paedophiles physically manipulate children on-line, and special pants for hiding erections. The MPs were told it was their own fault they were so gullible.

An hour ago my cat was hunting for the mouse at the last place she saw it. Possibly, though, I've given a misleading portrait of her hunting abilities. She often stalks her own water bowl and I have never seen it outwit her. Yet.

Wednesday, December 19, 2001

While writing about the inability of the CIA to find bin Laden or indeed its own ass, I got lost in my own subordinate clauses and forgot to include a joke along the lines that while the CIA can't find him, his cave is rapidly filling up with AOL disks and credit card offers.

Mumia got off death row today, although I wouldn't be as optimistic as some reports in suggesting that Penn. won't re-run the penalty phase: they really want this guy dead.

The mouse was finally caught last night, by me and not by the Stupidest Cat in the World, after 54 days. A bit the worse for wear, but alive.

A U of NH econ professor estimates 3,767 civilian Afghan dead from bombing, just as the World Trade Center estimates drop to 3,000. Fortunately, they're just foreigners.

We've already seen Bush's ultimatum to Afghanistan reissued by Israel with to Arafat with the names changed, and India to Pakistan. We've seen governments claim their enemies were linked to bin Laden from China to the Philippines to Somalia (where it might be true). Now, a coup attempt in the Comoros is justified by the president's alleged links to bin Laden, which may be the silliest yet. Unconfirmed reports say that Bob Denard was present, making this I believe his 5th coup in the Comoros.

Tuesday, December 18, 2001

Rumsfeld admits having no idea where bin Laden is, but none of the reporters ask him if that isn't a sign of incredible incompetence. I can understand, sort of, George W growing a layer of teflon in time of pseudo-war (although a layer of UV might be more useful), but what have the FBI & CIA & DIA & NSA done to deserve the exemption from critical thought?

Speaking of exemption from critical thought, Zimbabwe has some draft laws to outlaw criticism of the government. Or the police.

A famous chain of vegetarian restaurants in Britain, made popular in the 60s by the Beatles and Twiggy and, I don't know, Austin Powers, has closed down. I mention this for two reasons: 1) its name was Cranks; 2) someone said they needed to get back to their roots.

So, will they or won't they? India and Pakistan, always so close to the brink of war, and they take another step. One of two odd things happened here: either the Pakistani intelligence services thought they could get away with this because the US would tell India to back down, or Kashmiri separatists/terrorists under the wings of Pankistani intelligence thought they could launch this operation without permission. Some government spokesman accused the Indians of attacking their own parliament in order to frame Pakistan.

I just let the cat out, so presumably the mouse is now playing. I'll have to admit she's getting better. She's now caught the mouse in each of the last 3 days. What is the life span of a mouse, anyway?

Monday, December 17, 2001

He who loves you will follow you

The cat caught the mouse yesterday. Lost it again. They really do squeak.

If you're bored, check out a website from a fan of Soviet-era calculators. The author lives in Tasmania, so probably needs a hobby.

My fortune cookie today told me "He who loves you will follow you." That is really deeply disturbing.

The Bushies won’t shut down meat-processing plants that repeatedly fail salmonella tests. They say it’s the consumer’s responsibility to cook properly.

Saturday, December 15, 2001

Hiding in caves

The mouse is no longer even treating my cat with respect, barely increasing its speed today as it walked past her close enough to touch on its way to sanctuary under the stove. There's no longer any food in the drawers next to the stove, as I'm trying to lengthen its supply lines and so increase the chances of it being caught. I may have to burn Moscow, though (little military history humor there, which always goes over big). Actually, I only thought there was nothing left to eat. I noticed the mouse has eaten through a couple of pill bottles in the bottom drawer, left over from my old cat who, although dead more than five years, now seems more likely to kill the mouse than my current cat.

The hypocrisy is beginning to increase. Today Bush accused bin Laden of being a coward for hiding in caves while sending others to their death. OK, Mister Too Dangerous to Come Back to Washington, Mister Texas Air National Guard, Mister....

And a day or two ago he said that Johnny Taliban was obviously misled because who would fight for a country that treated its women badly. Do you think he mentioned that to his father during the Gulf War? or was he still too busy snorting coke off a hooker's ass in a Houston bar to notice?

Speaking of Johnny, William Saletan of Slate says that treatment of him will be the litmus test of whether the war is against terrorism rather than Islam as the Bushies keep saying, that is whether we treat him like a terrorist or as a misguided youth as Bush has been.

Michael Kinsley, also in Slate, says that this war is about restoring our right to ignore Afghanistan again. He actually meant it seriously, but I've pointed out before that the fastest way for the US to lose interest in a country is to defeat it in a war.

The latest analysis I've read of Sharon's policy is that he intends to so weaken Arafat that someone will overthrow him, and then somehow there will arise a new leader more willing to do Tel Aviv's bidding. Yes, of course, the Palestinian people are crying out for a government more subservient to the folks who are bombing them.

Speaking of interesting logic, how much of the infamous video tape have any of you bothered to see? I've been happy to stick with edited highlights so far because I find the whole thing rather dubious. I'd hate to think the CIA would be so stupid as to fake this tape, but really doesn't it beggar the imagination that bin Laden would avoid claiming any responsibility for two months and then do it in this way? Forget checking the translation, I want to see what an Arab-speaking lip-reader has to say about the tape. Bush spoke today like only Oliver Stone or everyone in the Arab world could think the tape was less than authentic, but then he thinks that Jar Jar Binks is real.

Thursday, December 13, 2001

Israel, displaying the sort of arrogance normally associated with more, well, North American countries, declares Arafat irrelevant, like this is a valuation they get to make, like Bush declaring who is or who is not a true Muslim. Israel is breaking off all contact with the Palestinian government. This probably comes as a relief, since such contact usually consisted of Ariel Sharon screaming Terrorist! Terrorist! Terrorist! until foam came out of his mouth.

Headline that should have been connected to a much more interesting story, but wasn't: "9 Foot Swan Held After Attack on Woman in Dog Suit."

Football mascots.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001


I thought you all needed to know this right away: crows are left-handed. (See latest issue of Nature)

Bush at White House yesterday: "I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Chanakah."

Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Denying Al Qaida their caves

Pentagon phrase of the week, heard on McNeil-Lehrer yesterday: "denying Al Qaida their caves."

Most countries would have stopped blowing things up from helicopters at least until after the funeral of the 2-year old they accidentally killed, but not Israel. And this on Chanakah, which as I understand it is a holiday which celebrates the miracle of endlessly flowing American aid. Unless I've missed something, the White House has been strangely silent on this way. Remember what I said last week: if you harbor child-killers, you're a child-killer; if you gave a green light to the child-killers, you're a child-killer....

Prince Charles used the word turd today. He was referring to modern architecture. Guardian headline: Prince Dumps on High-Rise Architects.

The Chinese are claiming that there are hundreds of Uighur separatists fighting for the Taliban, and it wants them handed over when captured. I know several have been captured, but hundreds? They're up to something.

The Northern Alliance transported many Taliban POWs in airtight shipping containers. Guess what happened.

The US finally indicts someone for terrorism, a guy in jail, so not one of the 9/11 hijackers, but with a parallel pattern of activities.

Italy drops its opposition to Europe-wide arrest warrants--it had wanted several crimes excluded, mainly those committed--allegedly--by Prime Minister Berlusconi.

Monday, December 10, 2001

George Bush says that bin Laden has no soul. No George, there's your lack of cultural understanding again: you sold your soul to the devil to become president. Bin Laden rubbed on a magic lamp.

So the Bushies have a videotape they claim is the smoking gun which, if we believe what they say about it (and I understand the picture and sound quality are terrible), is just bin Laden bragging about the World Trade Center after the fact. And that's not only the strongest evidence they've shown us in 3 months tomorrow, but the only evidence period. I saw a newspaper tabloid today that says bin Laden killed Princess Di, and I'll bet it's got evidence at least that good.

Ashcroft says he didn’t say people criticizing detention etc were traitors (yes, he did) and anyone who says he did is a traitor.

Friday, December 07, 2001

Britain's home secretary David Blunkett is also accusing anyone (meaning members of the House of Lords) who opposes his anti-terrorism bill of encouraging terrorist acts. Blunkett, I have just heard, also dislikes nudity. In 1983 when he was on the Sheffield city council, he walked out of a play that had nudity. In 1969 he complained about nudity on the BBC and was invited on to a program of viewers' complaints. Except he was not a viewer, being blind. It takes a special sort of prudery to complain about nudity you can't see. Well, to be fair, I've sometimes complained about nudity I can't see, but that's different.

Some physicist has a $100 bet with Stephen Hawking over the existence of the Higgs boson (Hawking says it doesn't). Remember what I said about stupidity? Someone bet against Stephen Hawking.

Pamela Anderson is suing for sole custody of her children, saying that Tommy Lee is becoming increasingly unstable. This from a woman who probably can't walk a straight line without falling forwards.

Like shooting fish in a barrel.

Strom Thurmond’s babysitter dies, at 109.

It’s almost impossible in China to transplant organs from anyone except prisoners.

John Ashcroft, who accuses civil libertarians of scare-mongering (“To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: your tactics only aid terrorists”), refused to let the FBI check to see if any of the 9/11 suspects had bought guns. So there is one constitutional right he’s not willing to trample. Take that, scare-mongerers! The thing is, illegal aliens or people in the country under 90 days don’t have a right to buy guns, so the FBI always, previously, thought that it could look at those people’s Brady Law records. DOJ now says that would violate their privacy rights, another right foreigners don’t actually have unless they have permanent resident status.

There is a film of the two most famous Johnnies in Afghanistan, which I hope someday to see. Johnny Walker, aka Johnny Taliban, the American who went to fight with the Taliban, was interviewed by Johnny Spann, the CIA case officer who was killed in the prison uprising. Spann is seen grabbing Walker by the hair and threatening him with death, in clear violations of the Geneva Convention, and that's what he did with the one grabbing Walker by the hair and threatening him with death, in clear violations of the Geneva Convention, and that's what he did with the one prisoner he knew who could speak English on CNN, so guess how the rest of the interrogations must have gone.

Wednesday, December 05, 2001

The end is nigh

The Higgs boson particle is now believed not to exist (see the current New Scientist). Therefore, as I understand it, the universe cannot exist. So it's been good knowing y'all.

That's particle physics humor, and I don't do it often, and evidently I won't ever be able to do it again.

Yes, getting agreement on an Afghan government wasn't nearly as difficult as it should have been, so let's accidentally bomb the new prime minister on his first day.

There are in fact women in the new Afghan government, assuming you're really impressed by 2 out of 30 on the council.

Speaking of democracy in action, Michael Bloomberg paid $92.60 for every vote he got in the NY mayor's race, spending more than Malcolm Forbes Jr spent running for president. I say let's skip the election next time and take everyone out to see The Producers.

Speaking of which, the cats that look like Hitler site.

For a great gift idea,, which is exactly what it sounds like, and gee, someone on this list has a wedding coming up....

Tuesday, December 04, 2001

I can't remember if I've mentioned the last 2 Jews in Kabul. Naturally, they hate each other.

So according to Bush, if you harbor a terrorist you're a terrorist, and if you arm a terrorist you're a terrorist.

So far be it for me to mention that the Israeli attacks have been using US weaponry that is not supposed to be used for such purposes.

William Saletan in Slate comments that Sharon has finally adopted the language of universality instead of trying to assert his usual position of the Israeli Jews as the sole virtuous victims etcetera etcetera.

What exactly is Sharon up to? Mindless violence for the sake of mindless violence? I'd buy that. Thinks that he can somehow select the next leader of the Palestinians and give him his marching orders? Yes, he's insane enough to believe that. I'm waiting for Arafat to say, Well we were just about to put into effect our plan to crack down on Hamas, but it involved using our helicopters and police stations. Sharon does not seem to be trying to assassinate Arafat, just vandalize his stuff. Houses, helicopters--expect his cars to be targeted next, because this is just that silly. It's like in a Western shooting at someone's feet--Dance, dance! If Sharon expects to be able to target the Palestinian police and then have them do his bidding, he's stupid as well as crazy, and I wouldn't rule that out either. After the bus attack Israel had the moral high ground, occupied it for a minute and a half and got a nosebleed.

Catching up with old New Statesman's. Blair isn't getting a lot of respect for sucking up to Dubya. Britain was so eager to portray itself as at the center of the world still that it was practicing for terrorist attacks that were never going to come and pretending that up to 1,000 Brits were killed in the World Trade Center (this week's figures--under 100). Writes Mark Thomas: "Tony Blair has spoken so often of his `special relationship' with George Bush that I feel social workers should take him into a warm and safe environment with some anatomically correct dolls and as many psychologists as are needed." Mark Steel writes about the drivel of war, such as the harping on the Taliban's treatment of women, as opposed to Saudi Arabia, where you can hardly move in Riyadh markets for stalls selling t-shirts reading "A woman needs a man like a camel needs a bicycle" and they always announce the public stoning of *women*, not girls, not chicks, but always women.

No one is even trying very hard to fake it any more. Well, if Bush said he wanted to bring democracy to Afghanistan we'd all hurt ourselves laughing. Still, you'd like at least the token effort at bullshit. It's like this letter I just got. It's a credit card solicitation. At the top of the envelope it says "This invitation is reserved for a select group of students". Ok, you know that's crap, but they don't even have my name in
the address, it just says University of California Student--which is right below a bar code! It just makes me feel

Oh for god sake, cat, even I can hear the mouse fucking around in the kitchen. Get off my lap and earn your keep.

Sunday, December 02, 2001

According to the Times, the secret first draft of Ashcroft's anti-terrorism bill included suspension of habeas corpus. Which means members of Congress knew that weeks ago and failed to share it with the public.

A referendum in Switzerland to abolish the army fails. Times headline: Swiss Army Escapes Knife.

Saturday, December 01, 2001

With those killjoy Taliban gone, or at least pretending not to be Taliban, cockfighting returns to Kabul. Also boxing. And honor killings. Freedom, ain't it great?

Not much in the British press today. Evidently some sort of insect died.

I first mentioned the use of earprints as evidence several years ago. At least 4 people were convicted using them in Britain, one sentenced to life, though I'm not sure they were ever used in the US. Anyway, it seems that not only is there no real proof that earprints are unique, but earprints also alter depending on the temperature and how hard you have it pressed against something. Oops.