Saturday, February 01, 2003

Rest in Peace
From Robert Heinlein's Green Hills of Earth:
Out ride the sons of Terra,
Far drives the thundering jet,
Up leaps a race of Earthmen,
Out, far, and onward yet ---

We pray for one last landing
On the globe that gave us birth;
Let us rest our eyes on the friendly skies
And the cool, green hills of Earth.
Contact lost with space shuttle Columbia
TV news is reporting that the space shuttle Columbia broke up over Texas while in the process of heading for a landing in Florida. I hope it's a false alarm.
Alternative Theories Alert!
Appropos of the recent posts on Scot-tee and ex-President Peanut, a reader with a fondness for conspiracy theories suggests
Carter can't possibly be that big an idiot. Maybe, like Ritter, he got caught down at Burger King whipping up some "special sauce" for an invited audience?
While it's possible, I have my own alternative theory:

Just say no to Jimmy!

"Righteous sh*t, Dude!"
Scott Ritter Plays Little Theater!
The Albany Times Union reports Anti-war campaign continues for Ritter: Former weapons inspector, mired in scandal, crusades against attacking Iraq
Ritter packed them in at the Saugerties Senior Center auditorium. The room, rated for a maximum capacity of 244 people, held at least 100 more people, and they all seemed to support him. They lined the walls several bodies deep and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the lobby, occasionally yelling "Louder!" through the open doors. Others listened from outside through open windows. Four television cameras were present.
The speech was organized by the Saugerties Committee for Peace and Social Justice, which paid Ritter an undisclosed amount. The audience was instructed beforehand to ask questions only about the Middle East.

The crowd was a mostly graying lot, although a number of younger people were present. Most audience members said Ritter's political views should be kept separate from his personal life.

"I find the charges abhorrent," Jo Galante of Saugerties said. "But I still think the message is important enough to overlook those charges."
Ah, a patron of the arts!

Scot-tee wows 'em in Saugerties!

Coming to an auditorium near you. Encore at Burger King!

Early morning hoot!
John J. Miller at The Corner:
The Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, author of the very important book The Other Path, has two dogs. They are named Marx and Engels because, as he explains here, "they are German, hairy, and have no respect for property."

Friday, January 31, 2003

He's Back!
There hasn't been a worse President of the Republic than Mr. Peanut in the memory of anyone living. And the silly goose keeps reminding us of it.

Horse's Ass

Ask yourself "What would Jimmy do?" And do the opposite.
Headline of the day alert! has The Goofy Face Of Terror. Yep, it's Big Foot!
Bon Voyage!
Reuters amuses with American women launch peace mission to Baghdad:
A dozen American women dressed in pink boarded airplanes en route to Baghdad on Thursday in a peace mission named "Code Pink" and meant to challenge the logic of waging war on Iraq.

The delegates would visit an Iraqi children's hospital, protest at an oil refinery and meet with U.N. weapons inspectors during their visit ending Feb. 8, said group spokeswoman Medea Benjamin, a 50-year-old mother of two.
Benjamin, founding director of the peace group Global Exchange, said the Sept. 11 al Qaeda attacks on the United States -- and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan that followed them -- made many women decry needless losses of life and ask: "Are we going to let these crazy men run our planet?"
Er, why are the U.N. weapons inspectors wasting their time on these dipsticks? They may be concealing weapons of mass destruction about their persons, but they aren't Iraqis, nominally at least. As for Medea (aptly named), she's stretching her 15 minutes. Her last gig was disrupting Don Rumsfeld's testimony at a congressional hearing.
The 12 delegates -- who include a lawyer, a farmer, an artist, a writer, an environmentalist and an Episcopal minister -- plan to wear pink T-shirts and berets and carry banners in Arabic reading: "Women for Peace."
They turned out for the last Washington march too. It went something like this:

I always wonder about these "peace visitors" to Iraq. Since Saddam has enough good taste not to meet with them personally, I feel for the poor sap whose job it it is to "welcome the wingnuts". After a few delegations you'd want to send them to one of Uday's prisons and break out the thumbscrews.

Ah, it's probably left to the Iraqi secret police anyway. They can also make sure there's no truth to the rumor that the peaceniks have been employed by the CIA to place radio beacons at the places they visit. Watch those transistor radios, girls!
A Glorious 25th for the Manhattan Institute
Read Tom Wolfe's Revolutionaries "on how the Manhattan Institute changed New York City and America". A brief excerpt:
"Losing Ground" was the Manhattan Institute's first triumph. But the triumph of all triumphs was the now-famous "Broken Windows" strategy for reducing crime in big cities by first cracking down on the quality-of-life misdemeanors that create an atmosphere of lawlessness.

Criminologist George Kelling and the famous political scientist James Q. Wilson introduced the concept in an article in the March 1982 Atlantic Monthly. It went relatively unnoticed until Hammett's second-in-command, Lawrence Mone, came across it while doing some research on urban crime in 1989. He invited Kelling to become a contributing editor of the soon-to-be launched City Journal.

The quarterly's Summer 1992 issue ran an interview by Kelling with New York's young Transit Police Chief William J. Bratton about putting Broken Windows to the test in New York's subways. That followed a forum called "Rethinking New York," starring Kelling.

At that moment the conventional wisdom among those second-hand idea salesmen, the intellectuals, was that "America's large cities are ungovernable." Hammett and Mone, who would succeed Hammett as the Institute's president in 1995, used the forum to kick off their campaign to prove otherwise. Rudy Giuliani came early, stayed late and took notes. He wanted to run for mayor in 1993.

As soon as he was elected, he appointed Bratton as Police Commissioner. The breathtaking decline in the crime rate that followed has become legend.
Big Foot Goes to the Big House
In the NY Post - Patriot Judge Stands Tall vs. 'Arch' Enemy
A Furious federal judge hit shoe bomber Richard Reid with a life sentence yesterday - and spoke for the entire country when he proudly warned the terrorist wannabe, "We are not afraid . . . We are Americans."

During the dramatic court hearing in Boston, Judge William Young pointed to the flag behind him and said:

"You see that flag, Mr. Reid? That’s the flag of the United States of America.

"That flag will fly there long after this is long forgotten."

Reid cried out, "The American flag will come down and so will your country. You will be judged by Allah!" and made a menacing gesture toward Young. The judge ordered federal marshals to "stand him down," before he was dragged out in handcuffs.

After Reid made veiled threats and accused the United States of the "torture" of Muslims around the world, the patriotic and fearless judge let loose on the psychopathic would-be killer, who tried to blow up a jumbo jet in mid-flight.
Should have iced the punk and saved the long suffering taxpayers his upkeep.

The Post also had an editorial on the same subject:
"You are not an enemy combatant -- you are a terrorist," said Young. "You are not a soldier in any way -- you are a terrorist. To call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. You are a terrorist, and we do not negotiate with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.
He could just as easily have let Reid rave, then dryly passed sentence.

But the judge understood that the times called for something more important.

God bless Judge Young.

And God bless America.
Amen, brother.

Bye Bye!
The NY Post reports College Cancels U.N.'s Ritter:
An upstate college yesterday canceled a lecture by former U.N. arms inspector Scott Ritter, citing his arrest in an Internet kid-sex sting.

Schenectady Community College canned the Feb. 12 speech, saying the controversy it generated had become disruptive.
Earlier news reports indicated that Scot-tee would still get the $4,000 fee regardless.

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Today's Hoot!
(Via Best of the Web) The Boston Globe has a heart warming tale - Councilor to skip some meals, for peace:
Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but for a cause like peace Felix Arroyo was prepared to forgo it - once every other week.

At least that was until after yesterday's Boston City Council meeting, when the councilor pledged his ''hunger'' strike would also include lunch.

As part of his fast-for-peace program, Arroyo said he'll consume only coffee and other liquids from sunrise to sunset - when he gets to have dinner - on the second and fourth Fridays of each month.
Felix (2nd from right, concealing watermelon under shirt) could clearly afford to miss a few more meals than that!
''We are doing something to bring attention to an issue that is escalating today,'' he said. ''With war, we will continue planting hate for generations of children. Why don't we go to the roots and kill it now.''
"Going to the roots and killing it now" is what it's all about, Felix.
The every-other-week timing of the move drew snickers from some of Arroyo's council colleagues. One joked privately that his proposed hunger strike was ''a little like saying you're going to jump off a building and then only putting a leg over the ledge.''

Still, Arroyo, who was elevated to the council upon the departure of Francis ''Mickey'' Roache, said shortly after his second council meeting that he's going to contact officials in cities across the country, hoping his movement will catch on. ''Eventually, it's important to do this in an organized way,'' he said. ''I think it will grow.''
Sounds like Felix is more than a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
Meanwhile down at the septic field, things are bubbling up
CNN reports Mandela: U.S. Wants Holocaust
Former South African president Nelson Mandela has slammed the U.S. stance on Iraq, saying that "one power with a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust."
Nellie apparently thinks that he can think, as he went on to demonstrate:
Speaking at the International Women's Forum, Mandela said "if there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America."
Care to share, brainiac? And speaking of atrocities, how's Winnie?
Mandela said U.S. President George W. Bush covets the oil in Iraq "because Iraq produces 64 percent of the oil in the world. What Bush wants is to get hold of that oil." In fact Iraq contributes to only 5 percent of world oil exports.
Can't count either.
Receiving applause for his comments, Mandela said Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are "undermining" past work of the United Nations.

"They do not care. Is it because the secretary-general of the United Nations is now a black man?" said Mandela, referring to Kofi Annan, who is from Ghana.
Ah, the race card! He's hitting all the high spots.

Sounds like all those years singing the Internationale have scrambled his brain.
Who let the poets in?
The AP stuns with White House Cancels Poetry Symposium:
The White House postponed a poetry symposium out of concerns it would be politicized after some poets said they wanted to protest military action against Iraq.

The symposium on the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman had been scheduled for Feb. 12. No future date has been announced for the event, to be held by first lady Laura Bush.

"While Mrs. Bush respects the right of all Americans to express their opinions, she, too, has opinions and believes it would be inappropriate to turn a literary event into a political forum," Noelia Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the first lady, said Wednesday.But the poetry symposium quickly inspired a nationwide protest.
Sam Hamill, a poet and editor of the highly regarded Copper Canyon Press, declined the invitation and e-mailed friends asking for antiwar poems or statements.

"Make February 12 a day of Poetry Against the War. We will compile an anthology of protest to be presented to the White House on that afternoon," the e-mail reads.

He had expected about 50 responses; he's gotten more than 1,500, including contributions from W.S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Hamill will post all the submissions on a Web site he expects to have ready early next week.
I wonder if he will publish Tim Blair's epic work?
If I could meet Osama
I'd ask if it was brave
To kill so many people
And why he lives inside a cave

If I could meet Osama
I'd say, "Please be nice instead."
Then I'd whip out my revolver
And shoot the motherfucker dead

-- by Timmy T. Timson, age 5
And we didn't just miss out on poetry!
Marilyn Nelson, Connecticut's poet laureate, said Wednesday she had accepted her invitation to the poetry symposium and criticized the White House for trying to silence the voice of American artists.

"I had decided to go because I felt my presence would promote peace," she said. "I had commissioned a fabric artist for a silk scarf with peace signs painted on it. I thought just by going there and shaking Mrs. Bush's hand and being available for the photo ops, my scarf would make a statement."
Might be hard to spot the scarf with your head up your butt that way, Marilyn!

Laura, I don't know how you folks in Texas do it, but around here we don't let dogs and poets inside the house. They have fleas and tend to soil the carpet.
The Useful Idiot Brigade in Congress
The American Prowler reveals Nancy's Rude Rubes:
So by final count, 20 Democratic House members staged a planned walkout on the President's State of the Union speech, while two Democratic presidential wannabes sent out critiques of the president's speech well before he'd even finished. Talk about lives of lonely desperation.

Unknowing reporters might imagine Rep. Dick Gephardt and Sen. John Edwards furiously taking notes on PDA's during the SOTUS and e-mailing them off to them from their seats. After all, the comments of both White House aspirants about Bush's speech were available in journalists' e-mail boxes more than ten minutes before the president finished his gripping address.

In fact, the canned comments from Gephardt and Edwards were written and approved even before the two men entered the joint session of Congress. "If you want your man's thoughts to get play after the fact, then you've got to get them into the media's hands in a timely manner," explains a Gephardt staffer. "If we waited until after Bush was done, we'd never get play."...

After Bush's speech and the Democratic response, DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, as well as Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, were inundated with complaints about the party's responder, Washington Gov. Gary Locke. Democratic leaders selected Locke after the party's governors demanded a larger role in the national party's activities in Washington. But acts like Locke's will quickly have them back playing in Peoria.

"He was an embarrassment," said one moderate Democratic House member. "Bush gave a great speech, our response only made his words seem more powerful. Why do we bother?"

The walkout, staged by mostly liberal Democrats, occurred about ten minutes before Bush's speech ended. According to one House leadership source, the walkout was approved beforehand by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who saw nothing wrong with members of her caucus behaving rudely, and is said by other Democratic staffers to have encouraged her caucus to react visibly to Bush's speech whenever emotions moved them.

"It says more about the respect her caucus has for her that they asked her if they could do it," says a House Democratic leadership staffer. "They'd never have bothered to ask Gephardt."
Nice of Lolla Pelosi to take time out from her Botox injections to approve these little hijinks. I suppose I could track down the names of the 20 (since they must have issued a press release) but I suspect I could name them without it.

And Nancy, what is good for the gander is good for the goose.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Put the pedal to the metal!
From the AP, Democrats Grill Appeals Court Nominee. Yeah, but:
Republicans pushed three U.S. Appeals Court nominees through a confirmation hearing Wednesday and prepared for a politically charged vote on a fourth in an effort to make good on promises to speed up approval of federal judicial nominees.

"These nominees have been languishing in the committee," said new Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who plans on using his one-vote committee majority advantage to push nominees quickly to the Senate floor, where Republicans hold a two-vote advantage.

Democrats complained about the expedited schedule, which they said forced them to question three judges on the same day instead of taking them one at a time...

"It seems part of a headlong effort to pack the courts," said Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the committee's top Democrat.

"Scheduling any three circuit court nominees for a hearing on one day makes it difficult to perform adequately our constitutional duty," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.
Makes it hard to fit in a 5 martini lunch, eh Ted?
"I think we ought to be able to move ahead and I'm prepared to do what I have to do," he (Hatch) said.
Sometimes Orrin comes through!
And I thought it was located in the nether regions of bovine anatomy!
John Pilger reruns some of his usual fulminations in Blair is a Coward in the bottom dwelling Daily Mirror. Rather than trying to wade through the fever swamp, I am pleasantly reminded of how "pilgerism" became a word through the inspiration of Auberon Waugh:
He also invented the wonderful verb "to pilger", from which can be formed the noun "pilgerism", which so neatly sums up the nature of much of the earnest, well-meaning and smugly self-basting writing beloved of lefty journalists all over the world. The great charm of pilgerism is that it saves a hell of a lot of research, as well as any thought. The real mystery of this kind of thing is how there seems to be a kind of telepathic transmission of orthodoxy, such that all pilgerising journalists appear to think much the same thing and to wheel and stampede like a mob of sheep without apparent prompting but all in the same direction. The precise definition of pilgerism does not matter, and anyhow, given the litigious nature of Mr Pilger, is impossible. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary does not even try, contenting itself with the obscure metallurgical use of the word.

The origin of Waugh's coinage of "to pilger" dates back to a piece Pilger wrote in which, in his habitual lugubrious and accusatory style, he recounted the theft from her parents and selling into prostitution of a young Thai girl in Bangkok. Waugh, who used to delight in shocking his primmer readers with his boasts of his prowess with Thai prostitutes (he was in fact notoriously faithful to his wife of many years) smelt a rat, and, with the help of friends from the Far Eastern Economic Review and others, dug around and soon discovered that poor Pilger had been deceived by a Thai con man, and that the transaction had never taken place. Pilger could only counter, lamely, that there are lots of young prostitutes in Bangkok. But everybody knew that already. It hardly needed a field trip and large sums belonging to his employer paid to a con man to discover it.
Pssst, hey Meester Pilger!

(Hat tip to dighton on FR)
Afghanistan Dirt Nap Alert!
Tim Blair has Osama's State of the Union Address. An excerpt:
For this, first I must thank Mullah Omar. Stand up, Mullah, wherever you are, and wave to the people. With your good hand! Thanks too to Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, whose plan would have worked perfectly were it not for his extreme blundering idiocy. And to my dear murderous friends in Bali who inspired us all, in your hour of need my heart goes out to you. Or it would, if a hungry bird hadn't already flown away with it.
Valerie Elliott, the Countryside Editor of the Times (UK) astounds with Why all our pigs are having a ball. (Warning, the Times has a very tedious registration scheme and wants to charge foreign visitors.)
Farmers throughout the country have 90 days to put a toy in every pigsty or face up to three months in jail.

The new ruling from Brussels, which is to become law in Britain next week, is to keep pigs happy and prevent them chewing each other.

Official instructions to farmers are to give pigs "environmental enrichment" by providing "manipulable material", which the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs last night defined as balls.

A spokesman said: "We mean footballs and basketballs. Farmers may also need to change the balls so the pigs don’t get tired with the same one. Different colour ones will do. These rules are based on good welfare. We don’t want to come across as the nanny state, but the important thing is to see pigs happy in their environment and they like to forage with their noses."
Don't worry, pal! This goes way beyond nanny state.

I wonder if they have been watching Green Acres reruns?
Massage Chair Hijinks!
The Detroit Free Press shocks with McPhail says mayor's backers sabotaged her chair:
Detroit Councilwoman Sharon McPhail says someone tried to shock her off her rocker Tuesday afternoon, and she pointed the finger at Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration.

"The guy is a thug. He's a bully," McPhail said of the mayor. "Basically, he's the kind of person that if you don't do what he wants, he's going to go after you."

Kilpatrick was shocked -- that the councilwoman would blame his administration.

"This is a serious accusation," Kilpatrick said. "It's ridiculous. . . . I don't understand how we are in this at all."
Police were investigating after McPhail reported that the electric massager attached to a leather rocker-recliner desk chair in her office had been rigged to give her a shock. McPhail said she didn't turn on the massager and didn't receive a jolt.

"It's perceived to be a threat right now," Police Lt. James Elliot of the armed robbery unit said.

Elliot said McPhail claims someone cut the wires of the plug-in back massager, which drapes over the chair, and wrapped them tightly around the chair's metal base. Evidence technicians were sent to photograph the chair and massage device in McPhail's 13th-floor office in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center on Tuesday afternoon.
McPhail said Kilpatrick has been unhappy with her since she voted against amended development agreements he worked out with two of the three casino developers in August. She said the mayor also is out to get her because he sees her as a potential rival in the next mayoral election.
The party of the regular guys (natch) is certainly a fun bunch!
Line of the day
From the Billabong:
What has Iraq done to Australia other than be the biggest buyer of our wheat?

Robyn Lewis, Raglan, January 28, 2003.

What has Imperial Japan done to Australia other than be the biggest buyer of our pig iron?

Fred Nerk, Clayton, September, 1939.

The nouns change, not the rationalisations.
It's deja vu all over again!
Elvis is back in the building!
After a brief hiatus, the King returns! And no, he wasn't spotted on a road crew in Florida.
It's Scot-tee!
Julia Gorin at Front Page Magazine - Ritter: On the Anti-War Path:
It's funny how soliciting sex from an underage girl can be the difference between Iraq having nuclear capability and not having nuclear capability.

Just ask former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter. In 1997, before Ritter was arrested for soliciting sex from a police officer posing as a teenager, Saddam Hussein indeed had been furtively building a nuclear arsenal, according to Ritter. But in 2002, a year after Ritter acquired a dirty little secret of his own, Hussein suddenly became beyond suspicion.

Ritter has said that the timing "stinks," and lamented that "it's a shame that somebody would bring up this old matter, this dismissed matter, and seek to silence me at this time."

But this didn't surface because he is an opposing voice. He is an opposing force because he knew this might surface. And the timing couldn't have been better. The day his 2001 arrest hit the national press last week Ritter was supposed to be on a plane to Baghdad to offer alternatives to military action.

Barring the possibility that Ritter was blackmailed by the Iraqis into resurfacing into public life and speaking out against a war, the reasoning behind his anti-war stance may have been a combination of three frequent motivators which often drive men to the wrong positions they take in life: fear, immorality, and moral confusion.
Yeah, I guess the timing was inconvenient (graphic from Registered):

Everybody's doing it!
Jerrry Seper in the Washington Times reveals More countries issue ID cards to illegal aliens in U.S.:
Guatemala, Honduras, Poland, Peru and El Salvador, aware of Mexico's success in getting identification cards to its citizens in the United States, including those here illegally, have begun or are considering issuing cards of their own, federal officials said yesterday.
That should read "mostly to those here illegally". If you are in the US legally, you already have documentation and don't need this card unless you are a collector of obscure artifacts with $29 to burn.
Known as "matricula consular cards," the digitally-coded documents are being used by Mexican nationals in the United States as legal forms of identification, giving the holders the ability to apply for social services, open bank accounts, cash checks, sign lease and rental agreements, and board airplanes.
Such a deal! I wouldn't want illegal aliens to miss out on social services!
Ironically, no major bank in Mexico lists the "matricula consular card" among the official identification documents they accept to open an account, and the cards are recognized for identification purpose in only 10 of Mexico's 32 states and districts.
The report also said safeguards are not in place to prevent the issuance of multiple cards to the same person, noting that the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service already has reported finding several cards in different names issued to the same person.
Last week, the General Services Administration suspended recognition of the cards at federal facilities pending an investigation. The GSA said once the probe is completed, a recommendation would be made to federal law enforcement and security agencies to ensure the cards' integrity and security.
This Mexican card costs $29 and you have to stand in line down at your local Mexican government franchise, er, consulate. If you stop by the Country Store, I'll get you a card too. Only $5!

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Keystone Kommandos?
At Strategypage, Stephen V. Cole describes Saddam's Sloppy Terrorist Commandos:
During the 1991 war, Iraqi military intelligence dispatched forty teams, each of two men, to conduct sabotage and terrorist missions against the US around the world. Saddam would not enlist outside terrorist groups, preferring to keep the operation under strict government control. The problem was that the would-be terrorists were hopelessly inept. One team hid their bomb so poorly it was found and disarmed by the embassy gardener; another team blew themselves up with their own bomb. Once the US became aware of the campaign, it quickly established that all of the teams were working out of the local Iraqi embassy (which had been under close surveillance) and all 80 of these commandoes had sequentially-numbered Iraqi passports (making them easy to identify and track). All but a few of them were rounded up in short order; a few were able to return to Iraq after abandoning their missions.
But that was last time. Cole speculates on what might happen this time. Unfortunately WorldNetDaily has a hint:
At least 20 "terror commandos" have been unleashed by Osama bin Laden to attack Britain and other European countries in the run-up to war with Iraq, a leading German newspaper claims in a story that confirms earlier WorldNetDaily reports.

Germany's popular daily Bild Zeitung reported that the Federal Intelligence Agency has issued a warning that a group of Afghan extremists, traveling on false Pakistani passports, are on their way to Europe.

The newspaper cites intelligence sources as saying that at least 20 of al-Qaida's "terror commandos" had set out for the continent via Bahrain as part of an all-out effort to attack targets in the UK, Germany, Britain, France and the Czech Republic.
More by following the links.
Today's Hoot!
From James Taranto's Best of the Web:
Now, this raises an interesting theological issue: What happens when a donkey becomes a martyr? Does it get the same 72 virgins that Palestinian men and boys do when they blow themselves up? Rockers Emerson Lake & Palmer seem to have addressed this question in their 1973 opus "Karn Evil 9, First Impression," in which they refer to "seven virgins and a mule." ("Keep it cool, keep it cool.") If ELP is right, a donkey that goes to paradise gets less than 10% of a human shahid's allotment of virgins. No doubt PETA will be outraged at this blatant speciesism.
I wonder if they come out of the same pool of available virgins?
Fuzzy Minded Men of the Cloth Alert!
(Via Susanna at Cut on the Bias) The MinuteMan says I Am Going Straight to Hell:
There's a silver lining - it should mean a break from the cold weather.

Let me get started. Last Sunday the minister at our church devoted the sermon to war and peace. Now, on the one hand, this takes a bit of courage, since we are an Episcopal congregation in the heart of "Country Club Republican" Connecticut. On the other hand, the crowd does not generally jump ugly: last year we had an Anglican Bishop visit us just a few months after 9/11, and a few weeks after we had completed the last of the memorial services at this church for the local dead. The Bishop's message, which provoked a bit of rustling in the congregation, was that 9/11 might reasonably be interpreted as a warning from a God angered by our indifference to third world poverty. I kid you not. And although a number of people (yes, I among them) took a few moments after the service to tell the Bishop what we really thought, there was no tarring and feathering, and few raised voices.

So, I know where the bar is set for this sort of sermon. But I sat through it, and the minister was kind enough to e-mail me a copy of it, which I post below. With just a little bit of commentary. But "Fisking" a sermon? I'll be damned.
Is checking your brains at the door a prerequisite for studying theology these days? As for dealing with the bishop, when someone barfs in your lap, maybe it's a sign that God wants you to move.
Damned if you do and damned if you don't alert!
The Toronto Star alarms with Amount of sleep linked to heart disease:
CHICAGO - Too little sleep - or too much - may raise the risk of developing heart disease, according to a study of nearly 72,000 nurses.

Women who averaged five hours or less of sleep a night were 39 per cent more likely to develop heart disease than women who got eight hours. Those sleeping six hours a night had an 18 per cent higher risk of developing blocked arteries than the eight-hour sleepers.

And nine or more hours of shut-eye was associated with a 37 per cent higher risk of heart disease. Researchers could not explain that finding, but suggested those women might have slept more because of underlying illnesses.
Repeat after me, kids. Correlation is not causation.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Cereal Dawdling Alert!
Powell Says Nix to Iraqi Trix
Iraqi Foreign Minister Says They're After Me Lucky Charms!

Today's Hoot!
Mary Vallis and Robert Benzie in the National Post (Canada) - Two things that suck: capitalism, the Post:

A young NDPer was shilling T-shirts bearing the motto "Capitalism sucks" on the convention floor. Asked if they were free, the salesman looked bewildered. Turns out they were $15 a pop. "They're union made," he said, sensing the irony. "It's all very ethical."

He said the proceeds were being donated to a youth wing of the party. They sold briskly.


Speaking of profit, the woman selling lapel buttons for $2.25 -- and up -- was one of the most popular people at the convention.

Buttons bearing Gordon Campbell's face that read "Make the Bad Man Stop" were a hit. So was the George W. Bush button with the slogan "An Insult to Morons."

Our personal favourite? A tiny white button with black letters: "The National Post Sucks."

Other pins of note: "Kiss Me, I'm a Terrorist," "Nurses know shit when they see it," and "God grant me the authority to change the things I cannot accept." Oh, and one could not forget: "War is menstruation envy." No word on how well those sold.
"Look for the union label." That's what I used to hear sung to me in the cradle!

Er, sorry! For a minute I was channeling Al Gore.
And then there's Martha....
The NY Daily News reports that Martha Stewart unburdens herself in the latest issue of the New Yorker - Wounded Martha asks: Why do they hate me?
Martha Stewart insists she has "never not been nice to anybody" - and she doesn't understand why people take such delight in her insider trading troubles.
The embattled entrepreneur also revealed that one person who had come to her support was Sen. Hillary Clinton.

"Look at her ups and downs," Stewart said. "And she was one of the first people to call me ... and very nicely say, 'You know, you just have to hang in there. It's the process.'"
Prosecutors are close to deciding whether to file insider trading charges against her for allegedly selling the stock on a tip from a pal, ImClone founder Sam Waksal.
Stewart and Waksal have both been major donors to the Democratic Party and the political campaigns of both Hillary and former President Bill Clinton.

Hillary Clinton strongly backed Waksal's other daughter, Elana Posner, in her failed 2001 run for New York City Council.

In thanking Hillary Clinton during the interview, Stewart talked about her admiration for how the ex-First Lady and her husband handled themselves during their own scandals.

In fact, Stewart called Hillary Clinton a role model for her own planned comeback.

"First Lady, knocked to death and now senator," she said. "She's smart, she's worthy, she's great. You know, that's what I hope I'll be thought of as."
Another shady inhabitant of the Clinton menagerie.
Perhaps the strangest moment in the interview came when Toobin admired the fancy silver chopsticks he and Stewart used to eat homemade Szechuan chicken at her Connecticut mansion.

"You know, in China they say, 'The thinner the chopsticks, the higher the social status.' Of course, I got the thinnest I could find," said Stewart, who was born Martha Kostyra and grew up in working-class Nutley, N.J. "That's why people hate me."
And just as firm a grasp on reality as the Clintons too.
Return of the Flim-Flam Man!
The American Prowler informs us that the Sucker Puncher (scroll down) is back:
Former President Bill Clinton is telling friends and Democratic insiders that the Gore campaign in 2000 never gave him a chance to enter the fray against George W. Bush. "Now that he doesn't have to hold back for anyone, he's campaigning against Bush like he wanted to back then," says a former Clinton staffer. "The gloves are off."
Hopefully, the pants are on!
Signs of Clinton stepping back into the bare-knuckled political arena were evident last week, when he tore into Bush for the administration's economic stimulus package and the deficits the war on terror and the weakened economy are creating.

Later in the week, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton lashed Bush over homeland security in a speech the former president told friends he helped craft.

"President Clinton has said he wants to use the next two years to wear down Bush so whoever is the Democratic candidate will have an easier time of beating him," says the former Clinton aide. "He's going to show the party the way to beat the Republicans. If they choose to ignore him, and lose again in 2004, it just means that Hillary will have a clearer field to run in in 2008. Either way, Clinton wins."
Bubba once again demonstrates the behavior that made him world renowned.

Bring it on, Billy boy. Pardoned anyone lately?
Clinton granted 177 pardons and clemencies just before leaving office in 2001. Braswell's pardon became one of the most criticized after it was learned the president's brother-in-law had been paid $200,000 for working on the case. Hugh Rodham later returned the money.
Actually, the last we heard, Baby Hughie had supposedly returned only some of the loot. How do we know for sure that he really returned any of it?

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Today's Hoot!
From the Billabong:
Margo's decision to leave her lavatory unflushed highlights a fundamental difference between novelists and journalists. While Henry James wrote "The Golden Bowl", she simply aspires to fill one.
When can I get a credit card like this?
From the Financial Times, Japan's interest rates fall below zero:
Japanese interest rates have fallen below zero for the first time in the country's history.

The overnight call rate on Y15bn (£79m, $123m, €113.6m) of funds traded between foreign banks fell to minus 0.01 per cent. The lender was Dutch bank ABN Amro and the borrowers were French bank Société Générale and BNP Paribas, according to marketsources.

The negative rate means that Société Générale and BNP are, in effect, being paid to borrow funds as they find themselves in the fortunate situation of having to pay back less than they were lent.

ABN Amro could also potentially profit from the deal as some foreign banks are able to obtain funds at a negative rate.

Fears over the solvency of Japanese banks have led many Japanese citizens to prefer depositing funds in large overseas banks. As a result, foreign banks have been able to charge customers to take deposits.
This is cool! Charge customers to take their money and then pay someone to borrow it!
Break out the Dustbuster!
The Independent (UK) regales us with Huge dust cloud threatens Asia:
Gigantic dust clouds swirling over China are threatening the world's most populous country with the first-ever "ecological meltdown", experts here warn.

The clouds - which stretch for thousands of miles over Asia and have even reached across the Pacific to North America - are rising from a rapidly growing dust bowl in northern China that far outstrips the notorious one in the United States in the 1930s.

It threatens to drive up the price of food and greatly increase starvation worldwide, and could lead to tens of millions of desperate Chinese environmental refugees.

"No country has ever faced a potential ecological catastrophe on the scale of the dust bowl now developing in China," says Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute, based in Washington. "Merely grasping its dimensions and consequences poses a serious analytical challenge."
I hesitate to ask, but who's to blame?
The institute blames "over-cultivation, overgrazing, over-cutting and over-pumping" for the escalating catastrophe. Marginal land is being increasingly pressed into cultivation, but quickly turns to dust under the strain. The country's 290 million sheep and goats strip the vegetation off grazing lands. Cutting down forests removes the trees that bind soil to the ground. And excessive pumping of water from underground acquifers dramatically lowers water tables, drying out the earth.
It wasn't my pickup truck! I'm so glad.
As the crisis continues, Mr Brown predicts, the world will soon feel the pinch. So far China has compensated for its falling harvests by eating stocks, but soon it will have to buy massive amounts of grain on world markets. He warns: "Grain prices could double - impoverishing more people in a shorter period of time than any event in history. It would create a world food economy dominated by scarcity rather than by surpluses, as has been the case over most of the last half a century."
The tune seems familiar, but the words are slightly different.
It's Entertainment!
From New Zealand comes word about Paedophile cartoon on new BBC channel:
LONDON: The BBC is courting controversy with its new digital television channel, which will screen a cartoon featuring a paedophile.

A character called Chat Room Perv will appear on BBC3's new satirical show Monkey Dust, raising eyebrows at a time when internet paedophilia is making headlines.

The new show's character regularly surfs the internet in search of young victims before luring them to meet him.
Well, that's timely! Do they have Burger King in the UK?
It's Broward County Again!
The Sun-Sentinel reports Voting office inquiry widens:
An employee in Broward County's elections office has told prosecutors that there are more uncounted absentee ballots from September's primary than those found this week in a file cabinet.

The lawyer for the employee said she discovered more than 500 unopened ballots in the office mailroom two days after the election. According to the story she laid out to prosecutors, she notified her supervisor and was told there had been a mix-up and that the votes needed to disappear.
It's hard to determine whether it's incompetence or just fraud in Broward and Palm Beach.
Ah, it's Sunday on Blogspot and the archives are uneasy
They will fix themselves eventually.
It's for the children alert!
(Via Amygdala) The Independent alarms with Why that big, fat KitKat could be the death of you:
Bumper chocolate bars should be banned and confectionery firms made to sign a strict new nutrition code, a leading public health expert claims.

Professor Malcolm Law is one of an increasing number of nutritionists and medical experts who believe that tough measures are needed to tackle a growing epidemic of obesity and continuing problems in effectively reducing coronary heart disease in Britain. Their concerns focus on the links between these diseases and the growing availability of cheaply priced, king-sized, high-fat chocolate bars, jumbo-sized crisps packets and super-sized bottles of sugary soft drinks.

They believe that consumers are more likely to buy the Mars Big One, which is a third larger than a standard bar but only 15p more expensive. Similarly, the KitKat Chunky costs 40p and weighs 55g, and is only 5p more than the smaller, traditional KitKat bar.
While Malcolm's fantasy merely makes me cranky, I wonder if he has discovered the mystical hold which chocolate has on the female of the species? Professor Law may uncover a more substantial health hazard involving knuckle sandwiches if he tries to restrict chocolate.
Nutritionists claim that some manufacturers deliberately lure children and low-income families into buying fatty, sugary and high-salt foods by heavily promoting cheaply priced, king-sized products.

They pointed to a series of recent marketing campaigns, such as McDonald's current "two for two" offer selling two hamburgers and chips for £2, or Coke selling 2-litre bottles for £1.20 when the 1.25-litre Coke bottle costs 99p.

Later this month, the Health minister Hazel Blears is expected to open another conference where experts will add to calls for tighter controls of food advertising, particularly targeting young people.

Children were the least likely to understand the risks of buying king-sized chocolate bars or soft drinks.
Why don't they just simplify things and completely specify the packaging, contents, and pricing for all food products? They could call them rations.