Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Today’s mail brought notices that I was due for my rabies shots and that the cat had jury duty, or something like that. We’re both so pleased you have no idea. This will be my 4th, and I have yet to set foot in an actual courtroom, although if I did I’d quickly be disqualified by virtue of having too much book larnin’. The proper response to being empaneled on a jury is an indignant “How stupid do you think I am?” As I recall, the way this works is that I’m supposed to arrive in Martinez, 16 miles away, at 8:00 in the forgodsake morning and then wait around for several hours (judges don’t even get out of bed before 9:30), so I can wait around for several hours doing nothing. You bring books, but there’s always a tv loudly blaring Regis Philbin, and uncomfortable chairs and evidently breastfeeding mothers don’t have to do jury duty, so there’s not even that to look at. If I had a laptop, I could play one of those really violent games and cackle Die motherfucker! every time I shot an old lady or zombie or better yet cop. At some point a civil servant who is actually paid for being there will give a pep talk about civic duty, while the county is dipping its hands into our pockets, not even paying us gas money on the day I have to show up and not get picked for a jury, and the form they want me to return, which I won’t, is not postage-paid.

The Israeli Labor Party (it feels weird spelling that without a u in Labor) signs its own death warrant by electing as its new head a guy who counts as a peacenik in Israeli terms (which means that as a military commander, he only had his men break the arms of stone-throwers, not shoot them dead and burn down their village).

As if further proof is needed that constitutionally speaking the US government is a hollow shell, a fake court met this week for the first time. This is the secretive appeals court for the secretive wiretap court. The appeals court is named entirely by William Rehnquist, who selected its three members from the entire range of federal judges, from a Reagan appointee on the right, to a Reagan appointee on the left (no prizes for guessing who appointed the middle member). This court rules that there is no wall between wiretapping for criminal and wiretapping for intelligence purposes. So prosecutors can now get wiretaps and use them for criminal trials, based on the almost non-existent standard of proof required for wiretaps for intelligence purposes. The 4th Amendment be damned.

In another example of corporate socialism (socialized costs, privatized profits), the Senate votes that insurance companies don’t have to pay off on terrorism insurance policies, the US government will do that for any attack over $10 billion. So why do the insurance companies get to collect the premiums?

From the Telegraph: Muslims angry at Nigeria's staging of the Miss World contest burned down a newspaper office in the northern city of Kaduna after an article hinted that the Prophet Mohammed would have married one of the contestants.

Ditto: Singapore is to relax its 10-year ban on chewing gum, but only if it is given on prescription. Doctors and dentists will be able to administer sugar-free gum to patients for "medicinal benefits". The ban was imposed because the gum stained pavements. The relaxation follows pressure from America during trade talks.

Ditto: Greece has banned the sale of "Living Dead Dolls", American toys featuring fiery eyes, scarred faces and bloodied mouths which come in their own coffins and death certificates. The dolls cost about £32.

From the Times: George Bush was elected President with a promise to restore dignity to the White House. Yet in the book George and Laura: Portrait of an American Marriage, the US President's party trick is revealed - he likes to stick chopsticks up his nose.

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