Saturday, May 24, 2003

A Song in My Heart
(Via The Corner) Kieran Healy reveals the dirt on the Eurovision Song Contest:
But in terms of kitsch, tackiness, geopolitical tension, and sheer entertainment value the U.S. has nothing, but nothing, to match the Eurovision Song Contest. The Eurovision is the common cultural bond uniting generations of Europeans, the continent’s one true collective ritual.
Whatever about the songs, it’s the voting that brings out the worst in everybody. The anonymous juries pass judgement on the cultural worth of their neighbors, which makes for indignation and outrage all round.
The songs themselves have evolved in interesting ways. “Diggi-loo Diggi-ley” represents the high-point of the nonsense-chorus Eurovision song, designed to appeal to the multi-lingual audience. This lowest common denominator approach produced successes throughout the first thirty years of the contest, including such classics as “Boom-Bang-a-Bang” (UK), “Ding Dinge Dong” (Netherlands), “A-ba-ni-bi” (Israel) and of course “Diggey-loo Diggi-ley.” (I promise I am not making these up.)
The breakup of the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union in the 1990s caused all kinds of problems for the contest (too many countries) but also injected a fresh dose of bad taste. Countries like Slovenia, Estonia and Romania can use odd native instruments to produce Euro-Heritage songs, and also have the advantage of being 10 or 20 years behind the rest of the world in terms of popular music genres.

This year’s contest — the 48th — is being held in Riga. Defying the unspoken norm of sending unknown performers, the Russians have entered Tatu, the faux-lesbian duo beloved of Matt Yglesias. They’re the favorites to win, but are already pissing everyone off with their diva-like behavior. They clearly hope to treat the contest as a joke, win it anyway and further their careers. But the Eurovision really is beyond irony or parody, so Tatu will instead be tarnished by it, rather than vice versa. I hope they lose big. Then again, everyone’s a loser in the Eurovision. That’s what makes it so entertaining.
Well, it turns out the winner was Turkey complete with a cast of belly dancers. Martin Richards offers a snarky review at the BBC - Joy and humiliation at Eurovision:
The majority of the acts were of a sub-S Club level of cheesy pop - some prime examples were host Latvia's Hello from Mars and Slovenia's Nanana complete with singers wearing neon pink boob tubes and silver moon boots.

Ukraine's debut entry Hasta la Vista, which naturally received maximum points from neighbours Russia, had the most memorable stage act as a contortionist went through her repertoire behind singer Olexandr Ponomaryov.

Other noteworthy performances came from the Israeli dancing girls who performed a two-stage strip, and Poland's passionate peace anthem No Borders which tipped to do well but finished seventh.

But it is hard to be critical of a spectacle which year on year delivers to its legion of fans, exactly what they want.
At the other end of the scale Jemini's Cry Baby [the British entry] became a victim of the dreaded 'nul points', a victim of, as the BBC's commentator Terry Wogan bluntly put it, "the post-Iraqi backlash".
Chris and Gemma's rendition of Cry Baby was by no means the worst performance of the night, but as the esteemed Mr Wogan says, the European voting public is "as mad as a bucket of frogs".
An apt description.

Programmers at work!
Program finds gender distinctions in writing styles
WASHINGTON - A new computer program can determine the sex of an author by detecting subtle differences in the words men and women prefer to use.
There might be a few other clues too.
Ruh Oh!
Trust the government to put their foot in it as Seema Mehta, Dan Weikel and Dave McKibben report in the LA Times - State Agency Tries to Stop Condo Sales:
The California Coastal Commission is taking action against hundreds of property owners in south Orange County who allegedly have rented their condominiums instead of living in them as required when they bought the low-cost homes.

Commission officials said Thursday they also are racing against the clock to try to block the sale of any of the condos at prevailing market values by these owners, some of whom may have received public subsidies to help buy the homes in the late 1970s and early '80s.

"It's a program we felt good about it because we thought it connected people of moderate means with housing," said Peter Douglas, executive director of the Coastal Commission. "To see it abused this way is just sad It's disappointing that people are that greedy."
Peter seems to have led a sheltered life. "Connecting people of moderate means with housing" indeed. He could be a poster boy.
From 1977 to 1981, the commission required that many coastal Orange County developments include 25% to 35% low-cost units. The Legislature ended those requirements in late 1981. By then, many low-cost condos had been sold in Dana Point, Laguna Niguel and San Clemente. Deeds required they be owner-occupied for 20 years or more, and if the owner moved before then, the unit had to be sold to a public agency at only a modest profit so that it remained low cost to the next buyer.
Scores of the condos originally were bought by low- to moderate-income workers for prices starting at $65,000. Some got subsidies of $30,000 to $50,000 to cover the developer's sales price, according to Helen Brown, who heads the nonprofit agency that administers the commission's low-cost housing program in Orange County.

Rather than occupy the units as required in the sale contracts, the owners in question have rented their units for $1,200 to $2,000 a month, commission officials said, adding that many tenants are professionals and high-income workers, undermining the program aimed at helping low-income people cope with Orange County's expensive housing market.
When restrictions expire, owners would be able to sell their condos for fair-market values topping $300,000 in many cases.

The notices require the owners to either prove that they had not violated the owner-occupancy agreement, or to sell the property back to the housing program at about $200,000 below fair-market value.
No word why a "Coastal Commission" was involved in setting up a class of restricted housing. Yeah, the owners welshed on their deals, but only the hopelessly naive would have thought otherwise. Maybe the members of the Coastal Commission should read up on rent control in New York City.
Repo men may be an endangered species!
Miss a payment and your car may die
Imagine getting in your car and it won't start. The situation would be aggravating for most, but for hundreds of thousands of Americans it could simply mean their car payment is overdue. A growing number of car dealers are using starter stoppers technology to ensure you don't get lax on your loan.

Macy Pearson loves the used car she just bought, but it will only start if she's made her car payment. Nestled under her dash is a device called a starter interrupt system. If Macy doesn't pay, the device is set to disable her car so she can't drive.

Macy's salesman insisted she have it, since she has no credit history. Once Macy sends in her payment, she's given a code number to input into a remote that connects to a device underneath the dash. "I stick it right in here. You punch in your code, you hear another little chirp and you're done," explains Macy, as she easily connects the device that will allow her car to run for another week.

Mike Simon's company, Payment Protection Systems, made the device in Macy's car and some 60,000 others bought at corner used car lots and dealerships alike. He says the device protects dealers from credit risks. "The people know that they have to make their payment and they really do perform in making their payments on time," says Simon. "Our delinquency rate was probably up around ten to twenty percent without the device. And since then, it's dropped down below two percent," says car dealer Steve Matthews about using the device with costumers.
Seems to me there might be problems with this.
Not everyone's sold on the idea of no cash no dash. Jack Gillis of the Consumer Federation of America has written a book about buying a car. He says the devices could put customers at risk. "You might be in a situation where you are in an unsafe position, and you need to get out of there quickly, and you can't do it," says Gillis about the pitfalls of such a device.

But device makers say cars won't stop while in motion they just won't start once they're turned off.
Hold that thought for when the first shyster files a lawsuit.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

What's wrong with this picture?
UN troops wait behind razor-wire as Congo's streets run with blood
Dead bodies litter Bunia's empty streets. From some the blood still drips from machete slashes, spear thrusts and bullet wounds. Others are two weeks old and stinking, half-eaten by the packs of dogs flopping lazily about the once-prosperous north-eastern capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

There are women's bodies scattered in Bunia's main mar ket place; a baby's body on its main road; two priests' bodies inside one church. Last week, a burning corpse was tossed on to the main UN compound's lawn, to show 700 Uruguayan peacekeepers what they were missing while they cowered under fire behind its razor-wire perimeter, unauthorised to intervene in the latest massacre of Congolese civilians.
Pygmies beg UN for aid to save them from Congo cannibals
PYGMY leaders have called on the UN to set up an international tribunal to put government and rebel fighters from the Democratic Republic of Congo on trial for acts of cannibalism against their people.

Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN’s Indigenous People’s Forum that during the four-year civil war his people had been hunted down and eaten.
Ba'ath Party teacher accuses 'war crimes' British colonel of staging mock execution
The Ba'ath Party representative in the first town occupied by the Royal Irish Regiment is thought to be the source for four of the five allegations of "war crimes" made against Col Tim Collins.
But the Ministry of Defence has confirmed that he is being investigated by the Army's Special Investigations Branch over a series of allegations that he:

- Punched, kicked and threatened captured Iraqis to get information out of them
- Pistol-whipped an Iraqi town leader, badly gashing his head
- Fired on the ground to intimidate two Iraqi civilians
- Issued threats to local civic leaders to get them to comply with his demands
- Shot the tyres out on a car when there was no threat to allied life

All but the last of these fit allegations made by Mr Nasser to an SIB team that interviewed him and his family about two weeks ago.
You have to be sh*tting me!
"They Find Mass E-Mailers And Play Tricks on Them"
Mylene Mangalindan amuses in the Wall Street Journal with Web Vigilantes Give Spammers Big Dose of Their Own Medicine:
When all 24 office phones at Scott Richter's e-mail marketing company started ringing at once, with nobody at the other end of the line, employees knew they were under attack again.

Daniel Dye, the systems administrator, could do little. After 15 minutes into the lunchtime assault last month, Mr. Dye recalls yelling, "Go ahead and pull your phones out of the walls for now. It'll be easier to think about what to do." Examining the phone system's central computer, Mr. Dye found that someone had hacked into it and programmed a feature that caused all the phones to ring at the same time.

Mr. Richter's company had been "flamed" -- attacked by a shadowy group of vigilantes who have taken to harassing spammers using just about any means they can dream up.
I'm deeply saddened.
They form a loose affiliation that uses the Internet to coordinate attacks from around the world. E-mail marketers often feel powerless against them. "It's an underground cult running it," says Mr. Richter, whose Westminster, Colo., e-mail marketing business, (, pitches mortgages, adult-related products and Viagra. "You don't know who they are."
Kinda like spammers, eh, Pond Scum?

Much more by following the link, but here's one more excerpt:
Mr. Tsilionis denies that he is a spammer. He runs Perfect Telecom, a telecom and Web-hosting company whose clients include bulk e-mailers. When he was attacked, he called his Greek data center in Athens. He got confirmation that all 184 server computers had stopped working, overwhelmed by roughly 15 million e-mail messages that had arrived all at once. Meanwhile, 30,000 complaints had been filed against Mr. Tsilionis's company with the telecommunications companies that provide his Internet access, leading them to cut off Mr. Tsilionis's access.
Share the love!
Here's a first!
Reuter's Alistair Bell reports from Mexico City on First Lady in Bizarre TV Defense:
A media saga over the private life of Mexico's first lady took a bizarre twist on Wednesday when she defended herself against allegations of abuse of power in a live television interview with a clown.

Marta Sahagun denied accusations in a new biography that she is an ambitious schemer who manipulates President Vicente Fox. The book also accuses Sahagun of witchcraft.

"One's private life should be respected and respected truthfully. What has been said here about (my) private life is a lie," Sahagun, 50, said on a popular morning news show on the Televisa network.

The show is hosted by actor Victor Trujillo, who as "Brozo" the clown dresses in a red nose and bright green wig to present news and interview guests, often irreverently.
And I thought he was just a snappy dresser!
(Via Best of the Web) Body in Pipe an Unsavory Addition to Water:
MANILA (Reuters) - Millions of people in Manila have been drinking super-chlorinated water this week as the body of a teenager remained stubbornly stuck in a major supply pipe.
I hate it when that happens!

Also, stop by today's Best of the Web to find out why the 1925 NFL championship is still being contested and why dog burning could be an Olympic sport.
Magnetic attraction alert!

Hubba, hubba!

No, it's not a Photoshop. More. And, I would keep an eye on this guy!
Speaking of noises from the alimentary canal
Over at Gut Rumbles, the proprietor is having a ritual delinking contest and I've been nominated! Despite my best efforts at offensive behavior, the nomination is apparently just for having an excessively long blogroll. Well dang, that's like a Grammy nomination for Best Polka Album.
Put an end to boring blogs!
Jim Treacher has a suggestion:
So We Should All Post MP3s of Ourselves Ripping Huge Farts, I Guess
Hmmm, even accounting for normal variation in the population, this could get boring fast. Maybe we all need to learn to play the ocarina and offer musical renditions?

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Ruh Oh!
Sherry Wilson Youngquist of the Winston-Salem Journal reveals Ex-Stokes manager had computer full of porn:
The former county manager for Stokes County, Craig Greer, had downloaded so much Internet pornography that his computer hard drive at the government center was running out of space, county officials say.

The cache of more than 27,000 photos - with such titles as 'Bye bye bikinis,' 'Housewife,' and 'Midget peep show' - was discovered by information-technology workers after Greer resigned April 28.

County commissioners said yesterday that the discovery was behind their decision last week to reverse themselves and fire Greer instead of accepting his resignation.

'This is abnormal,' Commissioner Joe Turpin said. 'People are not happy seeing their tax dollars pay an employee who was not working but spending his time doing this.... He had a massive amount of categorized information on there. It had been categorized, alphabetized. It was all archived.'

Greer began using the computer in early 2000. The downloads, which occurred during business hours, continued to take place throughout this year, county records show.

County officials said that there was so much material that Greer must have spent at least 60 percent of his work hours downloading photos.
Nothing like job satisfaction! By the way, his salary was $74,000 per year.

Actually, doing the numbers, he had the computer for 3 years which is about 750 working days. 27,000/750 = 36 pictures a day. I guess it depends on how long he spent "enjoying" each picture.
"Handicapping the Democratic Nine"
The Curmudgeon directs us to the morning line on the Democrat presidential hopefuls. Here's a sample:
-DENNIS KUCINICH----700-1. Kucinich bankrupted Cleveland in his short stint there. His candidacy is bankrupt in this nine-donkey race. He is beyond the fringe and has absolutely no shot at even finishing this race.
-JOHN F. KERRY----5-1. Kerry dreams of being Kennedyesque. He has a very wealthy wife, is able to raise money and has a fraction of name recognition. He has a very good shot in the democratic primary. He does come across as sleazy at times, and will say anything to anyone to get elected. Oh and if you listen to him for over fifteen seconds he will tell you that he served in Vietnam. If he pulls off the primary however, he could become Dukakisesque in the general election.
They're touting Joe Lieberman as the favorite. Hard to say, because collective delusion seems to be the Democrat specialty and Joe is clearly on the nearly sensible side.
Friar Tuck in Texas!
Caught On Tape: Monk Saves Police Officer:
A Texas monk is being hailed as a hero Wednesday after saving a female police officer's life during a struggle for control of her gun, according to a Local 6 News report.

Officials said that the police officer in Linden, Tx., was attempting to arrest a suspect at a grocery store when the man grabbed her gun.

Police said Patrick Coughlan, who is a monk, noticed the scuffle between the suspect and officer and raced to the woman's rescue. He grabbed the weapon and ordered the man to the ground at gunpoint.

Coughlan said that he didn't even see the gun until he grabbed the suspect.

"I realize now that if I would have hesitated even five seconds he would have had control of the gun and shot me and then her," Couglin said.
Check out the video from the officer's car cam. Also worthy of note:
Another woman later jumped in and pinned the suspect on the ground until more officers could arrive.
The woman was rather sizeable.
Mother Nature at work!
Kim du Toit observes:
So Canada has reported an incidence of BSE (mad cow disease)?

Big deal. The California Congressional members (Sens. Feinstein and Boxer, Reps. Maxine Waters, Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee, to name but a few) have shown symptoms of "mad cow" disease for decades.
True, but they can redeem themselves by their ability to personally solve the "natural gas" shortage that Alan Greenspan is warning about.
Hand him a banana!
Andrew Stuttaford at The Corner points to the revelation in the Guardian of a linguist chimpanzee named Nim Chimpsky. Probably has a firmer grasp on reality than his namesake.
More Jayson Blair News!
"No matter what you read in the papers, don't believe it," he said. "You'll have to wait for my soon-to-be-released book before you can really grasp how central I am to the functioning of the known universe."
It's ScrappleFace.
It just keeps getting better every time the punk opens his mouth
Sridhar Pappu interviews Jayson Blair in the NY Observer:
"That was my favorite," Jayson Blair said. It was the morning of Monday, May 19, and the disgraced former New York Times reporter was curled in a butterfly chair in his sparsely furnished Brooklyn apartment. He was eating a bagel and talking about one of his many fabricated stories—his March 27 account, datelined Palestine, W.Va., of Pvt. Jessica Lynch’s family’s reaction to their daughter’s liberation in Iraq.

Mr. Blair hadn’t gone to Palestine, W.Va. He’d filed from Brooklyn, N.Y. As he’d done before, he cobbled facts and details from other places and made some parts up. He wrote how Private Lynch’s father had "choked up as he stood on the porch here overlooking the tobacco fields and cattle pastures."

That was a lie. In The Times’ lengthy May 11 account of Mr. Blair’s long trail of deception, it reported that "the porch overlooks no such thing."

Mr. Blair found this funny.

"The description was just so far off from reality," he said. "The way they described it in The Times story—someone read a portion of it for me. I just couldn’t stop laughing."
It sure is a hoot, kid. But wait, there's more!
Being black at The Times "hurts you as much as it helps you," he said. It infuriated him that he was being compared to Stephen Glass, the white, ex–New Republic fraud who has just published a novel, The Fabulist, about his own nonfiction fictions. Because in his tortured, roller-coaster mind, you could call him a liar, but you could not call him unworthy.

"I don’t understand why I am the bumbling affirmative-action hire when Stephen Glass is this brilliant whiz kid, when from my perspective—and I know I shouldn’t be saying this—I fooled some of the most brilliant people in journalism," he said. "He [Glass] is so brilliant, and yet somehow I’m an affirmative-action hire. They’re all so smart, but I was sitting right under their nose fooling them."

Mr. Blair continued: "If they’re all so brilliant and I’m such an affirmative-action hire, how come they didn’t catch me?"
I get it - it's the insanity defense! More of Blair's blatherings by following the link. The Observer also has Joe Hagan reporting on the effort to sell a Jayson Blair book and movie:
Whether Mr. Blair’s future output is the stuff of best-sellers and blockbuster films remains to be seen. But already, editors at major publishing houses are skeptical.

"I am wholly uninterested," said Jonathan Karp, the vice president and editorial director at Random House, echoing the sentiment of a number of editors contacted by The Observer. "It’s a boring story that everybody already knows. I think the public will be completely satiated by the coverage in other newspapers, and to revisit it in the form of a book is unlikely."

Still, he conceded: "Far more boring stories by less interesting people have probably sold over the years."
Better hurry kid! Your 15 minutes are nearly up.
Nostalgia Alert!
Harry Mount in The Telegraph amuses with Thatcher, Mandy and the Germans:
'Does Margaret Thatcher have any children who might be interested in running Germany?" It took a brief run-through of the careers of Mark and Carole Thatcher to convince the 30-year-old head of a German think-tank, who had asked the question, that they might not be best placed to bring Germany out of its current recession - declared official last week.

But that didn't stop the other German delegates at the weekend's Konigswinter conference - the most influential of Anglo-German conferences, set up by Adenauer in 1950 - from declaring their desperation for a leader cast in the mould of Mark and Carole's mother.

Germany is not in as bad a shape as Britain was in 1979, but there are many of the same problems - high unemployment, unreconstructed unions, rocketing welfare costs. And there's no one there to sort it out. Gerhard Schröder is not considered up to the task. And it's still not clear who might lead the opposition Christian Democrats into the next election to clear up the mess. Oh, how they all longed for a Frau Thatcher to do it.
Well, it's amusing to me. Probably less so to the citizens of Germany.
The good old days
Over at the WSJ's Opinion Journal, Donna Brazile and Timothy Bergreen:
Ms. Brazile, who served as the campaign manager for Gore 2000, is a political strategist and a member of the board of advisers of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a think tank on terrorism. Mr. Bergreen served in the State Department during the Clinton administration and is the founder of Democrats for National Security.
weigh in with What Would Scoop Do? - Fellow Democrats, get serious about defense or get used to losing:
It was not always this way. Throughout much of the last century, Democrats were the party of strong defense and muscular internationalism, while Republicans were often the party of isolationism. Traditional Democrats guided America through two world wars and were the architects of our policy of containment against the Soviet Union. From Franklin Roosevelt's insistence on the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany and imperial Japan in World War II, through Harry Truman's refusal to acquiesce to the North Korean invasion of the South or the Soviet attempt to starve the Western powers out of Berlin, to John F. Kennedy's steely-eyed showdown with Nikita Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis, to the pro-defense legislation of Sen. Scoop Jackson--the Democratic mentor of some of today's most prominent Republican hawks--the Democratic Party met the great challenges posed by the enemies of the Free World.

The Vietnam War split the Democrats as it did the nation, and by the early 1970s, the "peace wing" of the party had taken over. Ever since, Republicans haven't had to work terribly hard to win electoral success by portraying a string of Democrats from George McGovern to Michael Dukakis as weak on defense and hostile to the military. Our own fathers, one a World War II veteran, the other a veteran of the Korean War, both wonder what happened to the old Democratic Party that honored their service and did not shrink from a fight when it was in America's interest.
It's usually a chilly day in hell when I agree with Donna Brazile, but I'm of an age to remember the Democrat party before it was hijacked by the "Blame America First" crowd. There was plenty to fight elections over, but sucking up to foreign totalitarians was never on the table. Unfortunately, those days are 3 decades gone.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

What a surprise!
Brian Ross and Rhonda Schwartz at ABC report that Saddam Stole Billions From U.N.:
United Nations officials looked the other way as Saddam Hussein's regime skimmed $2 billion to $3 billion in bribes and kickbacks from the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program, said U.N. officials who told ABCNEWS they were powerless to stop the massive graft.
Hmmm, how could that be with the eagle-eyed U.N. bureaucrats on the case?
Under the program, all money from the sale of oil was supposed to go into U.N. bank accounts in New York to buy food and humanitarian supplies.

But that's not what British businessman Swara Khadir found when his company sought contracts to sell Iraqi oil. "We discovered that we had to bribe a lot of people," said Khadir. "And because it was Iraqi oil we were talking about, it was bribing top Saddam officials."

Khadir refused to go along [with the bribes], but still has the Iraqi documents instructing him in which Swiss and Jordanian bank accounts the bribe money should be deposited.

"They made no show of concealing it," he said, "because the U.N. was just turning a blind eye to it."
Ooops, I take back the "eagle-eyed" part. But they were ace U.N. bureaucrats:
To questions about whether there should have been intense scrutiny of the companies and evidence of wrongdoing, such as illegal money being funneled to Saddam, Sevan said, "We don't do that. I'm sorry."
Hmmm, let's have a big conference at a foreign resort to discuss the ramifications at length!
I'm from the NY Times - I'm here to help!
In the Rockford (Illinois) Register Star, Carrie Watters reports Speaker disrupts RC graduation: A New York Times reporter delivers an antiwar speech that offended many:
New York Times reporter Chris Hedges was booed off the stage Saturday at Rockford College’s graduation because he gave an antiwar speech.

Two days later, graduates and family members, envisioning a “go out and make your mark” send-off, are still reeling.
Hedges began his abbreviated 18-minute speech comparing United States’ policy in Iraq to piranhas and a tyranny over the weak. His microphone was unplugged within three minutes.

Voices of protest and the sound of foghorns grew.

Some graduates and audience members turned their backs to the speaker in silent protest. Others rushed up the aisle to vocally protest the remarks, and one student tossed his cap and gown to the stage before leaving.
“War in the end is always about betrayal. Betrayal of the young by the old, of soldiers by politicians and idealists by cynics,” Hedges said in lecture fashion as jeers and “God Bless Americas” could be heard in the background.

After his microphone was again unplugged, Pribbenow told Hedges to wrap it up.
What is it about a commencement that brings out the political wingnuttery? Why do schools hire political whiners to grace what should be non-political events? Yeah, I'm real sure Phil Donahue and Jessica Lange have important life messages to impart.

In any case, stand by for the swoons over "chilling of free speech", but it looks to me like there was a lot of free speech going on at Rockford College.
Splish splash!
Body found in hotel swimming pool:
A man's body was found at the bottom of a hotel swimming pool, officials said.

Jamie Perez Roque was pronounced dead at the scene. Officials believe the man, whose age and hometown were not immediately released, drowned accidentally sometime late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Roque's body was discovered by another swimmer, who bumped into him at the bottom of the Hawaiian Inn's pool, said Sgt. Mike Fowler of the Daytona Beach Shores Public Safety Department.
Bumped into him? Eeewwww! But wait a minute ...
The pool was not lighted at the time because of local ordinances designed to protect sea turtle hatchlings. Strong lights can draw the turtles inland instead of out to sea.
Looks like the turtles need razor wire on the pool fence too.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Must be mosquito season - I hear a high-pitched whine
Bush Should Get Bin Laden Like Clinton Did:
Democrat candidates for president attacked U.S. President George Bush this week on his failure to capture Usama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. They said if a Democrat had been in office, both terrorists would have already been tried, convicted and executed.

"We need another President like Bill Clinton, who wouldn't sleep until these wicked men were brought to justice and the American people were safe," said one unnamed Democrat presidential candidate. All of the contenders say they would bring back the Clinton-era "no mercy for terrorists" policy which prevented the deaths of thousands.
It's Scrappleface.
I need a scorecard!
I'm so confused, but over at Balloon Juice, John Cole helps us all out with the fine distinctions between censorship and free speech.
This is censorship:

Dozens of people walked out on pioneer TV talk-show host Phil Donahue, as he delivered a commencement speech at N.C. State on Saturday.

This is acting on principle:

About one in every eight graduates walked out of Sunday’s commencement at Saint Joseph’s University before the keynote address by Sen. Rick Santorum.

See the difference? Let's do some more.
More by following the link!
I don't know art, but I know what I like!
Dane Acquitted in Goldfish Blender Case:
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - A Danish art museum director was acquitted of animal cruelty charges Monday after a court ruled that a display featuring goldfish inside working blenders was not cruel.

The display at the Trapholt Art Museum in Kolding featured 10 blenders and invited visitors to blend the fish if they wanted to. Somebody did in early 2000 — and two goldfish were ground up.
Judge Preben Bagger ruled Monday that Meyer did not have to pay the fine because the fish were killed "instantly" and "humanely."

During the two-day trial, a zoologist and a representative of blender manufacturer Moulinex said the fish likely died within a second after the blender started.

It was not known who turned the blenders on.

The installation was the work of Chilean-born Danish artist Marco Evaristti.
Quite a scramble for the chief idiot prize.
More than I want to know
(Hat tip to FR which has a number of comments considerably more waggish than mine.) The Monroe (Louisiana) News-Star stuns with the news that:
The celebrated bawdiness of New Orleans' French Quarter is getting out of hand, according to members of a legislative committee who voted Thursday to impose fines and a 10-day jail sentence for people having sex in public.

Rep. Danny Martiny's bill would outlaw sexual intercourse in public "for the purpose of gaining the attention of the public."
Is it OK otherwise?
This bill is aimed at the most outrageous acts, said Martiny, R-New Orleans. "It's not trying to make Mardi Gras not fun."
Whew! That's a relief!

(One of the more waggish comments has to do with "hardened criminals").
Jayson Blair reviews Matrix: Reloaded
From The Lemon:
The Matrix: Reloaded is a sequel to the 1999 blockbuster Point Break. The movie is an action / adventure / thriller / love story / drama that is sure to be one of the movies people see this summer.

The movie starts out with Neo (Keneau Reeves) and Trinity (Sandra Bullock) in a phone booth. The two of them use the phone booth to travel through time to meet historical characters for an oral report that is due the next day. If they fail, they will be shipped off to military school and never get to fulfill their dream of forming a rock and roll band and making a music video with Eddie Van Halen. During their travels, they are guided by Neo's mentor, Morpheous (George Carlin) who delivers wry and sometimes humorous advice to the time-traveling duo.
The movie is a bit slow in the beginning, focusing on a group of Neo's friends who rob banks while wearing rubber masks of former presidents. The action picks up later in the movie when there is a stunning battle between Neo and his prickly history teacher, played by Patrick Swazie.
Stop by The Lemon for more wide-ranging japery including:
Said PETA spokesman Alec Baldwin, "These people are taking pictures of the animals they live with and posting them on the internet. How would a person feel if their roommate took pictures of them and put them on the 'net without permission. This is an incredible injustice."
Words of Wisdom Alert!
(Via The Corner) Seth Mnookin's Newsweek coverage of the Jayson Blair scandal has this gem:
In a conversation with NEWSWEEK, Blair spoke of his feelings since his career went up in flames: “I can’t say anything other than the fact that I feel a range of emotions including guilt, shame, sadness, betrayal, freedom and appreciation for those who have stood by me, been tough on me, and have taken the time to understand that there is a deeper story and not to believe everything they read in the newspapers.”
Especially when it is the NY Times.

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Don't tell the UN!
Adam Piore in Newsweek - Psyop: The Love’s Not Mutual: The U.S. military is using Metallica and the ‘Barney’ theme song as instruments of coercion in Iraq.
Your parents aren’t the only ones who hate your music—some Iraqis hate it, too. U.S. military units have been breaking Saddam supporters with long sessions in which they’re forced to listen to heavy-metal and children’s songs. “Trust me, it works,” says one U.S. operative.
Metallica I could handle, but the Purple Menace?
Today's Hoot!
William Gibson wryly links to a discussion of spam in the House of Lords. A brief excerpt:
Lord Mitchell asked Her Majesty's Government:
What are their plans to reduce the growth in spam (unsolicited e-mails).
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I hope noble Lords will appreciate how I move seamlessly from corned beef to spam.
Lord Renton: My Lords, will the Minister explain how it is that an inedible tinned food that lasted for ever and was supplied to those on active service can become an unsolicited e-mail, bearing in mind that some of us wish to be protected from having an e-mail?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I am afraid that I have not been able to find out why the term "spam" is used, but that is the meaning it now has.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I can help the Minister with the origin of the word. It comes from aficionados of Monty Python, and the famous song, "Spam, spam, spam, spam". It has been picked up by the Internet community and is used as a description of rubbish on the Internet.
Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, do the Government have any plans to restrict unsolicited faxes? My fax paper is always being wasted by people who send me faxes I do not want. I do not know whether they could be called "corned beef" or something, but I have had enough of them.
Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, can the Minister think of a name for the enormous amount of unsolicited ordinary mail we receive?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, when I have a moment I shall bend my mind to that question.
To understand the "corned beef" reference you have to check the previous page of the transcript which deals with common household accidents including opening corned beef cans. A partial excerpt of that:
Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, is the Minister aware that if, having taken off one end of the corned beef can with the twisty thing provided—assuming that you have not lost it—you then take a common, ordinary, household tin-opener and take off the other end, it is very easy to push the corned beef out of the tin without any danger to yourself?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Yes, my Lords, I was aware of that, and I am very glad that that essential piece of information is passed round for the benefit of this House.
Not to worry!
The Sunday Times of South Africa reports that the UN is on the case - Zimbabwe elite 'looted DRC':
Key senior members of the Zimbabwe government are to be investigated by the United Nations for allegedly looting and illegally exploiting natural resources, including a fortune in diamonds, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

According to UN sources in Nairobi, investigators are to travel to Harare within days, where they will question, among others, the Speaker of the Zimbabwean parliament and former National Security Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa - the man widely tipped as a possible successor to President Robert Mugabe.

Mnangagwa was identified in a UN report on the looting of Congo, released in October last year, as the "key strategist" for the Zimbabwean branch of an elite network that benefited from a variety of criminal activities in Congo, including theft, embezzlement and the diversion of public funds, undervaluation of goods, smuggling, false invoicing, nonpayment of taxes, kickbacks to public officials and outright bribery.
The report was from last October and the "investigators" are showing up now? Another UN snoozer.

Also via the Times, Bobby Mugabe lives it up down south on a road trip to South Africa "to attend a graduation ceremony at Fort Hare University in the Eastern Cape and the funeral of ANC stalwart Walter Sisulu." Aside from the usual conspicuous consumption details of any Mugabe activity, we find:
Mugabe was warmly welcomed to the university by controversial praise singer Jongela Nojozi, who praised him for "chasing the whites" out of Zimbabwe. Mugabe smiled as Nojozi, dressed in furs and skins and wielding a spear, called on him to "please, please chase them from our land".
Nothing like a graduation with a festive air!

It sounds like ole Jongela would have been a less boring choice than Phil Donahue for North Carolina State. And their acts are about the same.
Look for the union label
Manny Garcia and Joe Mozingo in the Miami Herald - Union paid for chief's opulent lifestyle:
On the morning of Nov. 19, 2002, United Teachers of Dade President Pat Tornillo excoriated school leaders over low teacher salaries and demanded ``a hunt for spare dollars that could go toward raises.''

But Tornillo himself wasn't so frugal. That night, he spent teachers union dues to stay in a $2,000-a-night suite at the Mandarin Oriental hotel at Brickell Key. Tornillo slept eight nights at the opulent hotel and charged it to a UTD credit card.

Total cost: $20,138.53.
But wait! There's a whole lot more!
The Herald obtained 21 months' worth of the UTD chief's credit-card statements, union checks and financial records that show the union paid credit-card charges totaling at least $350,000 between September 2000 and this March, with little or no scrutiny. Among the charges:

The Sinclair Intimacy Institute -- whose motto is ''Better Relationships, Better Sex'' -- Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, ABC Liquor, Sharper Image, even the historic Ahwahnee hotel in Yosemite National Park in California.

From the Neiman Marcus catalog, the 77-year-old Tornillo bought a pair of python-print pajamas ($175.73) and a matching robe ($149.10).

Pat and Donna Tornillo globe-hopped, often first class, through Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the Far East. Pat Tornillo charged $1,441 worth of tailored suits in Hong Kong and $978.26 in souvenirs in Thailand. Donna Tornillo, 56, charged $1,800 worth of designer clothing in one day in New York. The couple charged almost $4,000 at a jewelry store in Carmel, Calif.

Teachers' dues paid for it all, which Albaum said left the union so cash-strapped that it had to take out loans just to get by.
I'm sure there was a union label on his python print jammies!