Saturday, January 04, 2003

Today's Hoot
(Via Whacking Day) Charles Krauthammer reveals The Pariah Chess Club:
Oh, yes, the club's name. Of the four founding members, two were social scientists who, at the time we started playing, had just written books that had made their college lecture tours rather physically hazardous. I too sported a respectable enemies list (it was the heady Clinton years). And we figured that the fourth member, a music critic and perfectly well-liked, could be grandfathered in as a pariah because of his association with the three of us.

Pariah status has not been required of subsequent members, though it is encouraged. Being a chess player already makes you suspect enough in polite society, and not without reason. Any endeavor that has given the world Paul Morphy, the first American champion, who spent the last 17-odd years of his life wandering the streets of New Orleans, and Bobby Fischer, the last American champion, now descended John Nash-like into raving paranoia, cannot be expected to be a boon to one's social status.

Our friends think us odd. They can understand poker night or bridge night. They're not sure about chess. When I tell friends that three of us once drove from Washington to New York to see Garry Kasparov play a game, it elicits a look as uncomprehending as if we had driven 200 miles for an egg-eating contest.
Streaking for Saddam Alert!
The Marin womyn without pants are back. Over at Shark Blog we are enthralled to find:
The Marin County Naked Women plan to march naked down Market Street in San Francisco on Jan. 18 to express solidarity with Saddam Hussein. And I plan to be there for the parade. I'm contemplating going naked except for a Saddam mask and holding a sign that says "Thanks for your support". And in any event I'll be taking pictures. Lots of pictures.
Lots of new wingnuttery in the article on the upcoming goose bump parade including
"One hundred thousand women and men will strip on Jan. 18 in Washington D.C. and San Francisco for the huge national peace march in protest of the stripping of constitutional rights by a government intent on war," said Donna Sheehan, founder of Unreasonable Women Baring Witness in Point Reyes Station.

"Our message to women all over the world is be bold, be courageous, be vulnerable for peace."
Be delusional for dangerous dictators.
Eenie Meenie, Cheery Beanie!
"Robert X. Cringely" has his computer industry predictions for 2003. While all are interesting, #15 speaks to blogdom:
15. And finally, with the continued (and to me totally inexplicable) rise of web logs, someone -- maybe Google -- will come up with an effective blog search engine to read all that junk for us and extract what we really care about.
Based on my referrer log, it looks like Google does that now. At least as well as any web search engine ever works.

The Guardian also has a list, many entries of which are pretty mundane, but some are interesting:
Mobile photos
After a slow start (today they are too expensive and don't easily work between operators) camera phones will boom in 2003. Prices will drop as operators try to encourage us to send photos to friends. Equally addictive is taking photos of people, places and events to create your own visual diary. Don't leave home without one.
And send those snaps to The Smoking Gun! Well, maybe not the ones you are in.
Say Cheese!
The Smoking Gun has a collection of the best non-celebrity mugshots of 2002. My favorite is Bambi - attention K-mart shoppers!
It's Blogger Again
Or maybe it's Blogspot. Whatever. But all posts have been whacked since Thursday. They appear in my archives, but not in the main blog page.

UPDATE: Appears to be fixed now.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

He's Picking, I'm Grinning
Tim Blair does a stint in the Augean stables in Balancing the blooper count. A small sample:
SMH television reviewer Bruce Elder demands perspective: "Just remember that while terrorists killed more than 3000 people in the events of 9/11, that 150,000 die each year (that's nearly 3000 a week) because of drunk driving throughout the United States. Perspective. That is what is needed most." What Bruce needs most is a calculator. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 17,448 people died in alcohol-related road accidents in the US last year - around 2665 fewer per week than Elder alleges.

Ignorant Americans who "don't read quality newspapers or watch public broadcasting or travel overseas unprotected by tourist buses" present a "great danger for the world", according to The Age's Janet McCalman. If only they were more worldly and educated, like Osama bin Laden.
Well golly gee, not reading wingnut McCalman in the Age and missing those fine public broadcasting whinefests has me plumb upset, that's fer sure! But no tourist buses for me, Jan. I prefer an SUV. Although some of my acquaintances like a more robust model when visiting foreign lands.
Empty Suit Alert!
Edwards enters race for presidency:
Sen. John Edwards, a multimillionaire trial lawyer from the South and relative newcomer to Washington, announced today that he will seek the Democratic presidential nomination, saying he wants to be "a champion for regular people."
Zzzzzz. I hope he doesn't get distracted by any ambulance sirens.

But he is better looking than Hillary.

UPDATE: Rodger Schultz has a campaign poster already!
Emergency PR Resuscitation Needed!
WCBS in NYC reports H&R Block employee accused in ID scam:
(White Plains, New York-AP) -- More than two dozen customers who went to H-and-R Block for tax-preparation help had their personal information stolen as part of an identity theft scam, according to a federal complaint.

The complaint says four suspects allegedly used the information to divert the victims' mail - including tax refunds - and to set up credit card accounts for their own ``shopping sprees.''
A spokesman for the US Postal Inspection Service says H-and-R Block did not willingly cooperate with the investigation.
Smooth move, Ex-Lax.
The Bad News Biz and a New Kind of Vulture
Craig Offman of Variety reports Bad Tidings for Cable News Pack:
NEW YORK (Variety) - For cable news networks, a war with Iraq may not be such a bad thing.

CNN, Headline News, MSNBC and CNBC suffered double-digit drops in year-end ratings vs. 2001, the year that audiences flocked to the television for updates on post-9/11 events.

Only Fox News, which has become the prime peacetime cable news destination, experienced significant growth in total-day and primetime versus 2001.
Most networks, however, saw significant growth in those specific timeslots during the October sniper attacks, when audiences likely tuned in when they got home from work or later when they turned in for the night.

The coverage of the murders in northern Virginia gave Fox News, CNN and MSNBC a boost in fourth-quarter total-audience ratings vs. the previous quarter.
Why do vultures come to mind?

Actually, I shouldn't be surprised - they were selling newspapers a century ago on the same basis. But there's a new twist these days as cyberCongressman Billybob reports in a special to Free Republic:
On Thursday mornings, I do a half-hour segment on the national radio show, "American Breakfast." I expected Ellen Ratner to come on for the last five minutes of that segment, as she has the last two weeks.

She knows me, and I know her. My feeling is that she was afraid to come on this morning and face the music about her "dead Americans" comment.

To recap for those who just tuned in, last Friday on Neal Cavuto's Show on Fox, the following exchange took place between Ratner and Brenda Buttner, sitting in for Cavuto:

[After a discussion that George Bush would be reelected "unless the economy tanks," Ratner said:

Ratner: Unless he messes up the war -- I hope.

Buttner: You hope?!

Ratner: Well, I don't want him to be reelected.
Billybob rightly asks how many Americans Ellen would like to die so that President Bush can be viewed as "messing up the war". And a poster observes
Actually, most of the Democrats on the Hill hope for the same thing. They're just not stupid enough to say it aloud on TV.
Has anyone contacted Patty Murray?
Party Animal Alert!
The AP reports that Five killed at Afghan wedding party after revellers fire rocket-propelled grenade:
KABUL (AP) - Five people were killed and six wounded when guests at an Afghan wedding party fired a rocket propelled grenade into the air, only to have it land nearby, an official said Wednesday.

"One of the grenades landed back on the ground near the wedding party, but it hadn't gone off," said Abdul Matin Hasankhiel, a senior military commander in the area.

"A commander attending the wedding went to see why it didn't explode. When he touched it, it went off."
Hasankhiel said revellers fired assault rifles and seven rocket-propelled grenades to celebrate the wedding. Guns are often fired into the air to celebrate marriages in Afghanistan, but that tradition does not often include firing heavier munitions, such as grenades or rockets.
Good thing they don't have artillery.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003

Ruh oh!
The Times of India startles with Deport Cherie Blair, Britons urge in poll:
LONDON: The wife of Prime Minister Tony Blair is the person Britons most want kicked out of the country after her links to a convicted conman were exposed in the recent Cheriegate affair, according to a poll on Wednesday.

In a tongue-in-cheek BBC survey drawing 15,000 votes, Cherie Blair topped the hall of shame with 31 per cent after damaging revelations last month about her property dealings with a convicted fraudster dominated headlines and embarrassed the government.
On the deportation vote, Cherie Blair narrowly beat the London-based radical Muslim cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri -- accused by the US government of being linked to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.
She even beat Captain Hook!

And on the other side
In a parallel vote on who they wanted to see named honorary Britons, 51 per cent went for Myanmar's pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was released from 19 months of house arrest in May.

Former US President Bill Clinton came second with 18 per cent. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein -- whom Britain is considering going to war against -- came fifth on the list of favourites for British citizenship with 7 per cent of the vote.

"He will cause far less problems where we can keep an eye on him," one voter for Saddam explained.
Hillary said the same about Bubba.
You have to be kidding!
Zev Chafets on Dem Dummies:
The Democrats are putting out the word: They intend to defuse charges that they're soft on national security by being tougher than President Bush on domestic terrorism.

Who comes up with this stuff?

The Democrats may be correct when they argue that the United States isn't significantly safer from terrorist attack than it was before Sept. 11. But the party has precisely no chance of making homeland hawkishness its issue, because its far-left wing adamantly opposes the single most necessary component of any internal security policy: identifying the enemy.

Far-left Democrats sometimes put their objection in practical terms - they argue that profiling young Arab and Iranian men isn't an efficient way to look for terrorists. In fact, there is no other way. Fighting domestic terror means finding the bad guys and their enablers. They will not be found at the local Elks Lodge. The usual suspects are usual for a reason.
When a Democratic senator like Patty Murray of Washington says Osama Bin Laden is popular in the Arab world because he builds day care facilities, and nobody in the Democratic leadership begs to differ, that's pretty much the end of any liberal claim to muscular credibility on Al Qaeda.
Is this why Hillary is talking up improved border security with Canada?

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Grab the barf bag!
No, not because of excessive New Year's libations. It's Barbra again (Via NZPundit):
Los Angeles Magazine Reveals Plans To Honor As "Website Of The Month"
(updated 12-23-02)

Chris Nichols, Assistant Editor of Los Angeles Magazine, has advised the editors of BARBRASTREISAND.COM that his publication will honor this site as "WEBSITE OF THE MONTH" in that magazine's February, 2003 issue. We wish to share this honor with our visitors who have made BARBRASTREISAND.COM one of the most frequented sites offering a meeting place for the examination of social and political issues which sometimes receive meager coverage in general media outlets. Along with Ms. Streisand's music information, her Truth Alert section tries to set the often distorted record straight.
Do you ever get the feeling that whoever Babs has putting this blather together is an aggressive, but not too bright teenager? They certainly write like it. As for Los Angeles Magazine
Los Angeles Magazine is published by Emmis Communications Inc., a multi-media company, whose holdings include such distinguished titles such as, Texas Monthly, Indianapolis Monthly, Cincinnati Monthly and Atlanta Monthly, as well as a vast array of radio and telecommunication concerns in the U.S. and Europe.

Celebrating our 40th anniversary, Los Angeles Magazine remains the quintessential guidebook for the good life in L.A. As the premier monthly lifestyle publication in Southern California, the magazine exudes the glamour, complexity, excitement and enviable lifestyle associated with the entertainment capital of the world. In a city where trends are born, scandals are broken and attitudes are taken, Los Angeles is our beat. We capture the élan of the city and package it in a unique and provocative style that blends hard-hitting, award-winning journalism with fashionable lifestyle edit. Our sleek and sophisticated graphics, matched with our prestigious roster of national advertisers, give us the look of a national magazine, but with the retail "call-to-action", immediacy and intimacy of a monthly must-read city magazine.
Who's kidding whom? Their idea of the internet is probably "You've got mail!"

And while you're at Babs' place check out the Babs holiday ornament. Sony Music will sell you one for $25. Can you imagine putting that on your tree?
I was wondering the same thing
Ben Stein asks in the American Prowler, Iraq and North Korea in Cahoots?
A simple but frightening conjecture: What if Iraq and North Korea are working together?

Let's start with the obvious. Just as American plans to invade Iraq were hitting high gear, scraping together armed forces, active and reserves, to make a powerful fighting force to take Baghdad, what should happen? North Korea springs into action against the United States and the United Nations. Pyongyang defies U.N. agreements about restricting nuclear technology, brings forbidden weapons into the DMZ, threatens nuclear attack against the U.S. and our allies in the region.

This has to affect U.S. war plans. If there is even a slightly good chance that the Communist North will attack South Korea or use nuclear weapons even in a test, the U.S. will have to split up our already too-thin forces between Iraq and faraway Korea. This drastically complicates our ability to concentrate forces against Saddam.

Is this possibly a coincidence? Well, of course, possibly it is. Anything is possible. But North Korea and Iraq are already closely linked militarily. North Korea has been a major supplier of forbidden missile technology and presumably Scud missiles themselves to Iraq. That link is already established. North Korea is chronically short of money because of its insane economic policies and the costs of maintaining an army of over one million in a small country. Iraq is immensely rich from oil. It is well within the realm of possibility that Iraq simply paid North Korea to stir the pot in the Far East just as Iraq was feeling vulnerable so that Iraq might win some sort of respite from U.S. attentions.
It is the Axis of Evil after all. And it doesn't help that
As a result of the relentless cutting, year after year, by the Clinton-Gore White House, America's defense forces are now missing 709,000 regular (active duty) service personnel and 293,000 reserve troops. These include eight standing Army divisions, 20 Air Force and Navy air wings with 2,000 combat aircraft and 232 strategic bombers, 13 strategic ballistic missile submarines with 3,114 nuclear warheads, 500 ICBMs, four aircraft carriers, 121 surface combat ships and submarines, plus all the support bases, shipyards and logistical assets needed to sustain such a force.

These figures do not even include the equipment inoperable for lack of spare parts in a military drained of resources because of overdeployment and underfunding. For example, there is an entire "paper" wing (four squadrons of 18 planes each) of F-16s that is being carried as "administratively reassigned" to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. These planes are actually sitting on the side of a runway, in plain view. They have been cannibalized for spare parts.

On top of the equipment and personnel gaps, there has been a steep decline in the morale of enlisted men and women as a result of the reckless overdeployment of U.S. forces under the Clinton-Gore command. How reckless? From 1945 to 1991 -- years when the United States was in a Cold War with the Soviet Union -- U.S. armed forces were deployed exactly 10 times. In the eight years between 1992 and the present, U.S. forces have been deployed 33 times. These deployments were for "peacekeeping," humanitarian aid, nation building and other essentially nonmilitary purposes. Their cost has been underwritten by the regular military budget, depleting monies that were earmarked for maintenance, research and the development of new military technologies.
Not to mention Bubba firing off million dollar plus cruise missiles every time he got caught with his pants down and then not buying new ones.

Back to Ben Stein for the payoff:
As a nation, we have allowed our strength to ebb under the delusion that the world was a much safer place than it is. Now, let's grit our teeth and pay for the defense we need ... starting with decent pay for our armed forces. Nations do not pass from the scene because they have too much defense, and if we have to err, let us err on that side. Defense is our greatest priority. We neglected it terribly in the Clinton years. Now is the time to rebuild our strength, and it is not a moment too soon. If North Korea and Iraq can work together -- just a hunch at this point -- then so can all of our enemies, and we need to be strong enough to deal with them all. We can afford it. The only thing we can not afford is to fail to defend ourselves.
And screw the whiners.
What's all this then?
I guess I haven't been keeping up with current events - Nude gymnasts to get key to the city:
Three former Romanian gymnasts who were banned for their nude appearances in a Japanese magazine and adult movie are to be offered the key to the city in Bucharest.

Bucharest Mayor Traian Basescu says he wants to show his support for the girls' gesture of having the courage to do what they want with their lives.
"The world must understand their former professional activity and the gesture they recently did are two different things. Now they are allowed to do whatever they wish with their lives."
Say what? Easy for you to say, yer honor! Obligatory picture by following the link.
New Year's list alert!
'Tis the season for New Year's lists and Tim Blair has the primo list of predictions for 2003. Where else would you see:
April 26th The FBI is again in the spotlight when it is revealed that 9-11 attacker Mohammed Atta was on the agency's Christmas card list and won two lotteries run by FBI staffers to raise funds for an office fish tank.
Over at the WaPo, Chuck Shepherd has the The Year's Weirdest News. My faves:
FUZZY ON THE CONCEPT Carol Urness, a recently retired University of Minnesota librarian, opened a used-book store in St. Anthony, Minn., consisting of about 1,000 volumes from her own collection, but told a Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter that often, after a customer selects a book to buy, she refuses to sell it because she can't stand to part with it. "The first day, a woman walked in and bought three books," she said, "and I about had a stroke." She added: "This bookstore is hard to find, and once you get here, it's almost impossible to buy anything."

-- Star Tribune, March 1

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH FIGHTS BACK The $190 million, 12-story, earthquake-proof Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels was dedicated in Los Angeles in September, celebrated not only for its upscale gift shop ($24.99 for house chardonnay), its ATM and its $12-a-day parking garage, but also for the private crypts underneath that begin at $50,000 and go as high as $3 million. (Said a Notre Dame theology professor, "[That's] kind of like selling sky boxes.")

-- Associated Press, Sept. 5
Dangerous Cookie Alert!
Not in your browser, in Michigan.
A Michigan woman faces charges for allegedly assaulting a cookie stand worker after she was told that a white chocolate chip cookie she requested is no longer available, according to a Local 6 News report.

Police said that Laura Smith, 25, became angry when informed that the cookie was not available while visiting the Briarwood Mall in Ann Arbor.

Smith then allegedly threw a two-pound box of cookie wrappers at the clerk and broke her glasses. Smith then reportedly went behind the counter to punch the clerk.
Sheesh! Whatever happened to the good old days when men did all the fighting about silly stuff in bars?
Take this trolley to Cuba!
Man Allegedly Hijacks Tourist Trolley:
SAN DIEGO -- A man boarded a tourist trolley at a tollbooth, held a gun to the driver's head and led police on a freeway chase Sunday before he was caught, authorities said.

Police stopped the trolley, which had no passengers on board, after an hour-and-a-half by throwing spike strips in front of it. A police dog bit the suspect and police arrested him for investigation of carjacking, assault and kidnapping, said Coronado Police Sgt. Jeff Hutchins.
No word on whether products of fermentation or illicit substances were involved.
Bodacious Bovine Alert!
WOKV in Jacksonville, FL has a improved version of the old joke - "NEW" Cows & Politics. Some of my favorites:
You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. You vote people into office that put a tax on your cows, forcing you to sell one to raise money to pay the tax. The people you voted for then take the tax money, buy a cow and give it to your neighbor. You feel righteous. Barbara Streisand sings for you.

You have two cows. The government taxes you to the point you have to sell both to support a man in a foreign country who has only one cow, which was a gift from your government.

You have two cows. The government takes them, shoots one, milks the other, pays you for the milk, and then pours it down the drain.

You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.

You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch. Life is good.

You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

You have two cows but you don't know where they are. You then see a beautiful woman. You break for lunch. Life is good.
And saving the best for last:
You have fifteen million cows. You have to choose which one will be the leader of the herd, so you pick some fat cow from Arkansas.
Well, don't that beat all!
Seems like the holiday makers in Australia are busting up the resorts! Details in Australia Asylum Camp Burns as Staff Flee:
Asylum seekers occupied a detention center compound on Australia's remote Christmas Island Tuesday, setting fire to a dining hall and challenging guards in an armed stand-off, government officials said.

The protest on the Indian Ocean island came less than 24 hours after detainees staged similar action at an Outback detention center, where staff fled attacks by asylum seekers armed with metal bars and stones.

"Detainees armed with pipes and other weapons have occupied one of the compounds on Christmas Island and set the dining hall on fire," said Jenny Hoskin, spokeswoman for the Immigration Department. "It's a bit of a stand-off and is something that's still happening," added Steve Ingram, a spokesman for Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock, at 2 a.m. EST.

Hoskin said she wasn't aware of any injuries to either the center's guards or to the detainees on the island, 2,400 km (1,450 miles) west of Darwin, but just 550 km south of Jakarta. "And we're certainly not aware of any guns being used."

The blazes at the desert Woomera camp in South Australia, which continued an outbreak of trouble sweeping Australia's seven detention centers for illegal arrivals, destroyed or damaged 43 buildings before they were finally brought under control.
"Officers were pelted with stones and threatened with metal bars as they tried to extinguish the fires which were driven by strong winds, spread rapidly and eventually destroyed two compounds," the Immigration Department said in a statement.

"Detainees continued to hamper efforts to control the fires (and) staff were forced to withdraw."
The fires at Woomera followed similar blazes at two other centers in recent days, blamed on detainees awaiting deportation after their applications for asylum in Australia failed.
Let's see - illegal aliens with phony asylum applications are a bit grumpy and are busting up the resorts. What to do?
The latest violence again shone a spotlight on Australia's hard-line stance of detaining all illegal arrivals, including women and children, in guarded camps.

...policies have been sharply criticized by international human rights groups and the United Nations.
Oooh hard-line! Those coconut carving classes are really tough! Of course, the usual whiners want all illegal aliens to be free to circulate throughout the country while their "asylum" claims are processed. I'm sure they'll show up again if their claims are rejected - and I have bridge property in Brooklyn they might find interesting too.
Howard's tough stand against illegal immigration has broad public support in this island continent of 20 million people.

The government insists it works. No boatpeople have reached Australian shores in a year and the number held in detention centers has fallen to 1,200 from 2,300 a year ago.
Good for them - although paying off the whiners with the fancy facilities seems to be a waste.

I also wonder about the simultaneous "spontaneous" riots in the resorts. Could the pernicious leftists, er "human rights" groups have coordinated them?
Comrades! You will be merry!
Claudia Kolker has a special in the Houston Chronicle - In Moscow, a mandate to be merry: Mayor decrees businesses must decorate for holidays or pay a fine:
MOSCOW -- There's no doubt about it: Twinkly lights definitely dress up a hammer and sickle.

As Muscovites get ready for New Year's, the biggest holiday here, their elegant but hardly whimsical city seems giddy with seasonal cheer. At the Ukraina Hotel, holiday lights tumble over giant Soviet-era sculptures. On a neighboring high-rise, a spray of lights illuminates the streets below. And downtown, Dior boutiques and bread kiosks sparkle and glint -- or at least spell out "2003" in fuzzy green garlands.

In Moscow, such holiday cheer is the law.

Earlier this winter, Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov ordered all stores and cafes in this city of 8 million to decorate for the holidays by Dec. 1. Inspectors who enforce the order say punishment for holiday dissidents is simply a fine and that no one has been penalized yet.

Many store owners, though, say they have heard that omitting the lights will get their business shut down. The idea, if not the method, is to make Moscow more Western, Muscovites say.
But there's always a gloomy Gus:
At the deserted Lora bar, not far from the Kremlin, 22-year-old Anatoly Maktinowyz grumpily rattles a cocktail shaker. A diamond-shaped ornament blinks feebly behind him on the wall.

"Why should decorating be a law?" Maktinowyz says. "It's a remnant of communism. There are a lot of people who are glad to have such a law. It reminds them of old times."

Maktinowyz, who is half German and half Russian, says his employers resent having to decorate their bar. If you look around Moscow, Maktinowyz says, a lone light in a window or a sickly fake tree reflect others' ill-will toward the mandated cheer.

"Like us at this bar, look, we just put up one decoration," Maktinowyz says. "Russians hate to be suppressed. So we put the absolute minimum decoration up. And we say, `OK -- I'm following orders.' "
What a grump! Myself, I was envious - "Outside a shoe store, a 6-foot mechanical Santa gyrates to the strains of Yellow Rose of Texas."

Sunday, December 29, 2002

Well Yee Haw! And hold the tofu.
The SF Chronicle astounds with Super-SUV makes splash in Bay Area - Gas-guzzling Hummer 2 with military amenities inspires love, hate:
San Francisco -- The Hummer 2 treats boulders like pebbles, lakes like puddles and has hood handles designed for helicopter transport. But the 3-ton wonder designed for tearing across a desert or racing up a mountain is more likely to be used by soccer moms bent on homeland shopping.
A beastly bundle of contradictions, the H2 is an unrepentant road hog, capable of making a splash at the opera or scaling mountains. General Motors is selling as many of the $50,000 H2s as it can make and touting them as the "SUV that can drop and give you twenty."
The H2, designed with input from longtime Hummer fan and owner Arnold Schwarzenegger, went on sale July 12. Designed for buyers in their 40s who earn more than $150,000, the H2 is modeled after the original made-for-the- military Hummer, now called Hummer 1. The H1 sells for more than $100,000.

Because of its classification as a medium-duty truck, it is subject to even less stringent air pollution standards than other large SUVs and is entirely exempt from the federal gas-guzzler tax.
GM sold 3,871 H2s in November -- only about 150 fewer than Nissan sold of its Pathfinders and more than Land Rover sold of all of its models combined. Hummer outsold the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade EXT, the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Excursion.

There are now Hummer dealers all over the Bay Area.

Mill Valley resident Penny Wright-Mulligan bought her first Hummer in October. She loves the macho frame and 316 horsepower V8 engine. And she doesn't seem to mind that, on average, her vehicle gets 10 miles to the gallon -- particularly when she has to shuttle four children between the ages of 11 and 16, and three dogs.

"I drive it to pick up the kids at school," said Wright-Mulligan, who previously drove a Suburban but said the Hummer is more comfortable and easier to park. "I get a lot of funny looks. People love it or hate it. It upsets some people because it's a big SUV and a gas guzzler. But it's what we need. And I just love feeling like I'm higher up. It's like driving an armored car. Every time I look at it, it makes me smile."

Sam Bernstein, a San Francisco dealer of Asian art, said he had never driven an SUV before he fell for the Hummer. He drives the Hummer to work and uses it to transport art and sculpture. On the weekends, he and his wife like to go off-road to look at birds.

"I'm a Sierra Club member," said Bernstein, who noted that he avoids such disposables as paper cups. "You can be environmentally correct and drive a Hummer."
I'd feel better about this if I didn't think Sam and the folks in Mill Valley would gladly vote for all sorts of restrictions on vehicles driven by the "little people".

And thanks, but out here, we'll stick to our pickup trucks.
This here writing stuff ain't so hard!
Bob Minzesheimer wraps a lip lock on Bubba in Clinton is eager to tell his story Says writing memoirs is a way to 'come to terms' :
Bill Clinton, who's getting nearly $12 million for his memoirs, says everyone eventually should write his or her life story.

''Everybody talks about how terrible this book-writing is. I've enjoyed it,'' the former president tells C-SPAN in an interview to be shown Sunday (6:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET/ 3:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. PT).

''Everyone who is fortunate enough to have lived to be 50 should sit down at some point and write the story of his or her life, even if it is just for yourself, your children, your family.''

It's important, Clinton says, ''to try to come to terms with the life you lived and think about how you wish to spend whatever years are remaining.''

Clinton, who says he's working without a ghostwriter, aims to submit a ''publishable draft'' by August. That's two months after the tentative publication date for the memoir of his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. (She got $8 million.)
Hot dang! I can hardly wait. The gossip is that while Bubba did have two ghostwriters to help him get started, he is generating this load of blather by himself, although it will be refined by prominent book editor Robert Gottlieb. From the same source, it is believed highly unlikely that that sales will pay back the $12 million advance - a hopeful sign for the Republic despite a few Kool Aid drinkers who are hot to read it. In the normal course of events that means that Bubba would have to return some of the dough. We'll see if they actually get it out of him.

As for the Village Idiot,
This time, Mrs. Clinton has started out with a team approach for her book. She retained Lissa Muscatine, a former White House aide who has worked as a reporter for The Washington Post, to co-ordinate the efforts of another professional writer, Maryanne Vollers, a journalist and author whose book experience includes helping Dr. Jerri Nielsen write the best-selling memoir "Ice Bound." In addition, Ruby Shamir, another former White House aide, is working as a research assistant.

The senator's squad has worked well so far, according to people involved with the writing of the book for Simon & Schuster, a unit of Viacom. After hundreds of interviews scheduled around her Senate work, Mrs. Clinton has practically finished the research for her memoir, and Vollers has begun writing full time. Mrs. Clinton plans to pitch in further over the coming congressional recess, and Vollers expects to complete the manuscript by the end of the year.

Some booksellers, though, said they suspected that interest in the Clintons may be waning amid the country's new concerns. "Time has marched on, hasn't it?" said Roxanne J. Coady, owner of R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison, Conn. "I think there is something about thinking about them that almost seems frivolous."
Frivolous. Well, that's one way of putting it.