Sunday, July 31, 2005

The latest news on Natalee Holloway

There isn't any.

Yes, ponds are drained, witnesses are questioned, jailed, released; the FBI come and go; everyone who ever met the girl is interviewed. Sample interview:

Interviewer: You are the dog trainer who trained Natalee's German shepherd. What do you think happened to Natalee?

Dog trainer: First off, I want to say that I feel great sympathy for Natalee's family, including her dog, Monster.

I; Does your knowledge of Natalee give you any ideas as to what occurred?

Dt: Not really, but she did love her dog.

Jimmy Carter--the most contemptible ex-president

Former President Jimmy Carter... has once again gone on the record criticizing the Iraq War and Guantanamo Bay:

Carter also criticized the U.S.-led war in Iraq as "unnecessary and unjust."

"I think what's going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A.," he told a news conference at the Baptist World Alliance's centenary conference in Birmingham, England. "I wouldn't say it's the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts."

Carter instead recommends the 'Nation in Crisis' strategy he employed so successfully during the Iranian hostage situation, and a revivial of the famous 'malaise' speech...

Virgin management

It's a perfectly legitimate question of economics: how to allocate your consumption of a finite non-durable good over an infinite period of time.

And Glen Whitman means "infinite," too:

If you were a Muslim, and you died and went to the Muslim heaven, how would you space out your enjoyment of the 72 virgins? Suppose that you actually find virginity desirable, and suppose that the virgins' maidenheads are not magically restored periodically. If the afterlife has infinite duration, then no matter how long you wait to deflower your 72nd virgin, you’ll still be looking at an infinitely long virgin-less future thereafter.

I could be wrong, but I would guess that after you deflowered them, you would get to play with them too. They wouldn't still be virgins, but probably they would still be hotties.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Problems with Islam

By far the majority of Muslims today live their lives without recourse to violence, for the Koran is like a pick-and-mix selection. If you want peace, you can find peaceable verses. If you want war, you can find bellicose verses. You can find verses which permit only defensive jihad, or you can find verses to justify offensive jihad.
By far the majority of Muslims today live their lives without recourse to violence, for the Koran is like a pick-and-mix selection. If you want peace, you can find peaceable verses. If you want war, you can find bellicose verses. You can find verses which permit only defensive jihad, or you can find verses to justify offensive jihad.

This has been obsessing me:

Charmaine Yoest has been responding to the canard that there are no iconic women. All night long, names of "iconic" women have been passing through my brain, leaving me no rest. A new list: Cecile Chaminade; Jeanette Rankin; Hildy Boggs; Bess Myerson; Dianne Feinstein; Mary Landrieu; Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Carrie Nation; Margaret Sanger; Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

A new meme: Think of ten women not already mentioned. I mean you, Rachel.
And you, Matt. Also Isabel.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Will the real estate boom go bust?

Grim forebodings.

Naked blogger--Part Deux

The air conditioner is broken, so I took off my clothes. Ahhhh!

Don't worry, I am not going to post any pictures. I don't want to ruin my image.

New crime--being naked while ugly

Credit to Tinkerty tonk.

Snobbish, anti-semitic, and anti-war

I can't find a link in the New York Observer for this site, but it starts on p. 1 of the July 25, 2005 edition and jumps to p. 15:

Titled The Polo Crashers, by Choire Sicha with Lizzy Ratner, the first paragraph notes:

Those few who find themselves in a position to knowledgeably discuss the attendees of the Bridgehampton Polo Club games often talk in code. New Money. No Money. The Real People don't come anymore.


The authors evade the code, and are quite frank. Who are the new money people? J-ws! The new money? People in real estate or who made their money themselves in commercial enterprises(read J-ws).

Embedded in this snobbish, snarky piece of cr-p are pious lamentations about the war in Iraq. They, of course, have nothing to do with the case, but demonstrate the authors' high-minded disdain for the Warmonger Bush and his vicious cronies.

No wonder it disappeared from the website! A half-witted attempt to capture the moral high ground combined with snide references to trashy people and a sense of nostalgia for the days when Christian people whose families had not worked for generations set the tone for this elegant event. Perfect!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Why am I not invited to write a book?

Why I’m Like This by Cynthia Kaplan

In the Acknowledgements we're told that Cynthia wants to thank Michael Murphy and Doris Cooper for inviting Cynthia to write this book. This is the second time in a week that I've heard of someone being invited to write a book. Gary Benchley, an unpaid contributor to the Morning News was also recently invited to write a book. Offering invitations to publish must be a mid-decade trend in the industry. And it puts me in two minds, which are:

1. Publishers must be really flush and wildly desperate to spend money if they are lobbing $3000 wads of cash to the likes of Gary and Cynthia, begging them to write books.

2. I’m way better than Cynthia (and Gary has already told his whole story on-line) so – YAY! I’m sure to be published instantly in this environment!

Seriously folks – most of the bloggers that I regularly read are far better writers than Cynthia. There are maybe three essays in her manic collection of grasshoppers playing glokenspiels in hell that are truly well-crafted and moving. The rest are spastically hammering tambourines and marimbas and leaping on sofas shouting, “I’m funny! I’m funny! I’m really, really funny!!!” and then doing handstands until their grasshopper panties show.

It says right on the cover that USA Today thought the book was hilarious and that Cynthia is the female David Sedaris. Note to self: Never buy a book USA Today hypes.

Criticising the lacrosse team

After raking John Roberts and family over the coals for dressing too fancy, Robin Givhan gets all priggish and proper over the appearance of the Northwestern University lacrosse team:

[S]omeone should have given notice to the flip-flop-wearing women of Northwestern University's lacrosse team, who visited the White House on July 12 for a meet-and-greet with the president: proper footwear required. Flip-flops, modeled after shoes meant to be worn into a public shower or on the beach, have no business anywhere in the vicinity of the president and his place of residence.)


I thought the girls looked nice, despite their footwear. They were all clean and spruced up, and all of their belly buttons were hidden. Nor did I detect a lot of piercing or tattoos. Nowadays, a skirt and shirt outfit with bare legs and sandals are perfectly appropriate on the young. Who wants to wear icky, disgusting, hot pantyhose in the Summer?

Make up your mind, Robin. Which are inappropriate, strawberry pink suits or flip flops?

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A collection of weird facts

Information or urban myth, I don't know, but--

A ten year old mattress weighs double what it did when it was new, because of the -ahem- debris which is absorbed through the years. That debris includes dust mites (their droppings and their decaying bodies), mold, millions of dead skin cells, dandruff, animal and human hair, secretions, excretions, lint, pollen, dust, soil, sand and a lot of perspiration, of which the average person loses a quart per day. Good night!
from the addict.

Those wacky cops!

Courtesy of Silent Running.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Do you have pH issues--down there?

So it's lunchtime on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and as I eat my burger, I'm thumbing through the Reader's Digest magazine that comes to my house every month .... A naked woman catches my eye.... The sign she's holding in front of her mid-section says "Is there a worse feeling than not feeling like yourself?"

I am intrigued, because I can instantly think of roughly two thousand three hundred things that would feel worse than not feeling like myself. A compound fracture of the tibia, being set on fire, a pitching machine firing baseballs at my exposed ass....I mean, really, I could go on forever. "Not feeling like myself" doesn't even make the top 1500.

So I start reading the fine print. ( I really have to stop reading the fine print. It's fine for a reason, and that reason is because I am not supposed to read it.) Anyway, against my better judgement, I read it. I figure it has to do with tampons, or itching, or chafing, or something I really don't need or want to know about, but it's like a car accident, you can't not look. Besides, I'm all about learning something new, so I continue.

Turns out, it has to do with the relative pH levels of the vagina. Goddammit, the things I learn while I'm eating boggle my mind.

For starters, I didn't know you had to check the pH levels in one of those things. I had no idea that it was such precision-tuned, high-maintenance apparatus.

I mean, a hot tub or a swimming pool, yeah -- I can see checking the pH levels there. If the pH is off in a hot tub, for instance, the steam from the water will burn your eyes and make you cough. That's bad, and it's a clear sign that you need to add some baking soda. That being said, I've never dated anyone who had a crotch that burned my eyes and made me cough, and I am extremely thankful for that.

[]


....the product description is chock full of information. In addition to eliminating odor for up to three days, this stuff apparently contains what they refer to as "a patented bioadhesive polymer."

Now, I can easily get behind the odor thing, since nobody wants a stanky crotch, but if I were a woman, that second one would concern me a little. There is no way I would buy something that makes it sound like I could quite possibly be pumping myself full of Liquid Nails construction adhesive.

Also in the fine print: "Keep out of eyes and ears." I have to say, that warning seemed a little odd to me, because that's not really the first place I would target with the old applicator if my vagina was burning holes in my underwear.

posted by Johnny Virgil at 9:11 PM

Monday, July 25, 2005

You think you have a lousy job?

One of the job titles I have tucked in my pocket is “content inspector.” A more flippant way to put it might be “porn checker.”

About four years ago, I worked for a large, nation-wide mail order photo processing lab. We were the second largest in the food chain of film processing at that time. Thousands of rolls of undeveloped film passed through our lab each week, and anyone in this business can tell you that these photos aren’t just handled by noisy machinery.

Aside from checking each set for color, tone and clarity ~ one of the lab’s functions was to red-flag anything that you wouldn’t pass around the dinner table at grandma’s house on Sunday.

Anything worthy of a red flag came to my desk for further inspection. I was the lab’s only porn inspector. ...

So why did we have to inspect naughty pictures? Because we were in the mail-order business and it’s a felony to pass pornographic materials through the U.S. Postal Service. The unprocessed film could come to us without breaking a law, but it could not be processed and returned. Understand that there were a million guidelines I had to follow in order to determine what could and couldn’t pass through.

[]
Sounds like a way cool job, eh? Not so cool at all when you consider the rest of the job. I’ll try to be as tactful as possible with this stomach churning topic.

Imagine this scenario. You come into work in the morning, sit at your desk, crank up the computer, sip your tea and open paper wallets filled with images of beastiality, battered children, child porn, or … on the lighter side though still not my favorite breakfast viewing material ~ vegetable sex. ...

The lab wasn’t a prudish outfit. They simply had to stay within the legal boundaries, or be put out of business. Tasteful nudity was fine. Touching or otherwise “interacting” was not. Brutality was never fine; animal or human (I’ve seen both types of photos). Photos revealing any type of underage sexual posing were never fine.

My job, after inspecting full roll content of any questionable shots, and determining that a law or ten may have been broken, was to call in the U.S. Postal Inspectors … (a.k.a. the Feds). Upon their arrival to our office, we’d sit in a conference room and fine-tooth the photos going over every detail of every background and foreground in each shot. Sometimes, I was wrong. I misjudged. But the general rule of thumb at our lab was “if in doubt, call.”

If the Federal Inspectors deemed the photos unlawful, they would carry through by sending undercover agents to the location of the sender; even to Alaska if need be. These agents would show up under the guise of “brown truck” delivery drivers, with photos in hand. (“Good morning Mr. Jackass, you’ve been busted.”)

I had never been summonsed to court, but my predecessor had been. She had to fly to Washington D.C. for a child molestation trial. She had to testify that we received the unprocessed films along with a check signed by the criminal.
....there were some completely hilarious photos of people in their 80s posing for one another in their birthday suits, complete with wine goblets in hand, or sporting Frederick’s of Hollywood style attire; comical pictures of women and men who had no business being naked alone in a dark room let alone proudly displaying themselves on picnic benches or at beach clubs; and of course, we had what my predecessor dubbed, “the vegetable of the month club.” I swear ~ I’m sure I haven’t but I could almost bet I’ve seen it all.

Internet dating gets critical scrutiny

Internet dating - is there any more exciting and modern way to strike out with women? Forget the old traditional getting coffee dumped in your lap, or standing forever at the movies waiting for her to show up and then going home and catching a glimpse of her at a restaurant with a different bloke. Now, thanks to the space-age wonders of the 21st century Internet, you too can be rejected by literally hundreds of women each month


Women don't like it either. In fact, who invented dating? It's the pits.

Don't argue, just sign the damn petition

Final instructions

The TV show “Family Plots” chronicles the inner workings of one of the busiest mortuaries in Southern California – Poway Bernardo, near San Diego. The staff is an intriguing assortment of relatives and other peculiar characters. The Head Mortician is perky Shonna. She brought the rest of her family into the business.

Her customers can’t vouch for her work, but Shonna’s cosmetic talents are sure to reserve a spot for her inside the pearly gates. As Head Mortician of Poway Bernardo, it’s said she spends no less than six hours on each client, using her morticious magic to turn them from dead to dazzling. During the process, she talks to herself, chain-smokes and conducts a normal conversation with whoever drops by.

Her younger sister Emily is Office Manager and Funeral Director in training. Their eldest sister, pretty Melissa, is Assistant Funeral Director. Melissa's ex-fiancé, Rick, runs the operation. Absent-minded old Chuck is the gal’s father. He’s a laid-back Funeral Assistant, body remover and amateur boxing trainer. All of them enjoy their work and joke about it all day. Then each evening, Chuck loads up all the out-of-town shipments and drives them to the airport for their flight home.

Watching this show, I’ve learned that the mortuary business is not much different from any other. They’re good days and bad days. Busy days and not so busy days. They’re rush pick-ups and rush deliveries, not to mention that all-important run to the airport.

It’s better than my eerie first impression, but it still bugs me.

I don’t want to have anyone comparing what I used to look like with what I look like now – naked and dead. I don’t wish to have my oil changed or be made to look pretty by someone singing rock songs and blowing smoke in my face.

I don’t wear a suit and tie while traveling anymore; I don’t intend to wear one on my final journey. I’m a little claustrophobic. So the idea of being wired, sewn or glued together, packaged, sealed and vacuum packed doesn’t appeal to me at all.



There is one bright spot in this picture:

There may still be hope for me. Listening to eulogies, I’ve notice that old sons-of-bitches like me never die. Everyone I’ve seen laid out down front was the perfect father, mother, sister, brother and friend.

Breaking news: Somebody doesn't hate us

On the 4th March 1942 the New Zealand government - having been left hanging in the breeze by Churchill - formally requested US assistance in the defence of New Zealand from the Japanese.

On the 10th March 1942 the orders were cut for a Marine Divison to be moved to New Zealand (Paekakariki).

The US did not attach any provisos to this substantial deployment. This move was of no strategic value to the US.

When the Japanese fleet moved to invade Port Morsbey the US Navy enaged in a battle (Coral Sea) they had every expectation of losing. As it was they were badly hurt but succeded in turning back the Japanese fleet.

This battle also did little to help the US strategic position but it did turn back the Japanese expasion at sea and provide protection to New Zealand and Australia.

After only six weeks training at Paekakariki (including the infamous march to Foxton and back) the Marines landed in Guadalcannal and engaged in some of the bloodiest fighting of the war facing and defeating a determined and confident enemy.

For many American Marines, sailors and soldiers New Zealand was the last friendly country. Many came here and never got home again.

A plaque on the Wellington forshore from the first Marine Divison comemorates their stay here and the battles they fought in the Pacific in defence of the region and the freedom of others. It incudes the words "If you need a friend you have one".

Posted by Murray

Life is a dunghill

Tinkerty tonk doesn't care for Ibsen:

Ibsen continues to resonate today, says Theodore Dalrymple, because of the universal egotism he promoted. A 1960s phenomenon that Ibsen advocated 80 years before the fact.

Dalrymple contrasts Ibsen's vision with that of Samuel Johnson:

Johnson saw human existence as inseparable from dissatisfaction. It is man’s nature to suffer from incompatible desires simultaneously—for example, wanting both security and excitement. When he has one, he longs for the other, so that contentment is rarely unalloyed and never lasting.

However, most people find it more comforting to believe in perfectibility than in imperfectibility—an example of what Dr. Johnson called the triumph of hope over experience. The notion of imperfectibility not only fans existential anxieties, but also—by precluding simple solutions to all human problems—places much tougher intellectual demands upon us than utopianism does. Not every question can be answered by reference to a few simple abstract principles that, if followed with sufficient rigor, will supposedly lead to perfection—which is why conservatism is so much more difficult to reduce to slogans than its much more abstract competitors.


I never cared for Ibsen: Too much gnashing of teeth and Scandanavian gloom for my taste.


I've always found these guys and their Scandinavian angst so over the top that you can't help laughing. For instance, I recently attended a performance of Strindberg's The Father which moved the audience from muffled snickers to outright hilarity. By the end, their were tears in all our eyes, and they weren't from the tragedy of it all.

I've always considered these writers members of the "Life is a Dunghill" school. One of the best examples of this in English literature is Jude the Obscure, by Thomas Hardy. Jude could not get into Oxford. This blighted his life. And on and on.

I felt like saying, "Jude, snap out of it! Move on! Get a job, for God's sake." But Jude insisted on being inconsolable and wallowed in his misery.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Oh, oh!

Why do they hate us? Well, why do we hate them?

CNN had a colloquium on Why They Hate us; mercifully it is not on their web site.


The wrong question is being asked. Why do we hate them? Because they blow up little children? Because they blow up pizzerias? No, because they are evil scum-sucking fiendish murderers! That's my reason, anyway.

Friday, July 22, 2005

100-year-old man celebrates silver anniversary

I got this from the free Jewish paper, the Jewish Standard (NO LINK)

Sidney and Ruth Lobonowitz will celebrate their silver anniversary this year, a milestone in in marriage, but especially remarkable considering that the groom was 75 years old when he made this second marriage.

Shoes without socks, ugh!

IT seems almost obscene, given the expanses of midriff, thigh and backside that too many people are all too willing to bare today, that the decision to show a little ankle with dress shoes should raise eyebrows. But almost obscene is just how it seems to many. (From the NyTimes, link defunct.)


My grandson used to wear his sneakers without socks until the entire family rose in rebellion. When he went withouot socks, we could smell it.

Closed shoes without socks make your feet gummy and sweaty. As the Manolo says: Pah!

So many magazines, so little idea why I kept them:

[I]f I see something interesting in a magazine, I'll fold the page so I can get back to it later. Do I ever get back to it? NO. I wind up investigating the folds when I’m ready to move and can’t bring myself to pack 3 boxes of magafuckingzines.

Which is why I’m currently surrounded by a metric assload of random publications, each with tiny folds marking pages containing...something. As an equal opportunity folder, I usually can’t even figure out why I folded the page in the first place. Meaning, I may have folded the page for any of the following reasons:

A.) I liked a cute silver jacket that I’ll be able to wear when I lose 900 pounds or revert to my original embryonic state.

B.) I couldn’t believe that Burberry made flowered bicycle shorts.

C.) I liked a CD review and wanted to hear it on Amazon before I ordered it from the library. (If I don’t check them out, they will suck ass and not sound anything like their description, and embarrass me in front of Mateo, whom I’m still desperately trying to trick into thinking I’m cool).

D.) I wanted to clip some smartypants article and send it to someone. Who? Beats me.

E.) I bought the magazine in the supermarket and decided I’d rather stare wistfully at the Crème de Mer bottle in the privacy of my own home, where I can weep and no one will see my mascara run.


__________________________________________

Bill Moyers, LBJ's partner in blackmail

[R]ead Lawrence H. Silberman's column in OpinionJournal:

Only a few weeks before the 1964 election, a powerful presidential assistant, Walter Jenkins, was arrested in a men's room in Washington. Evidently, the president [Lyndon Johnson] was concerned that Barry Goldwater would use that against him in the election. Another assistant, Bill Moyers, was tasked to direct Hoover to do an investigation of Goldwater's staff to find similar evidence of homosexual activity. Mr. Moyers' memo to the FBI was in one of the files.

Yes, that Bill Moyers.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Obscene items for sale

Outrageous!

A tribute to the Mother Country

Britain didn’t just give the world industrialisation, but the belief in economic and political liberty, in free markets and democracy, leading to the modern world’s unprecedented affluence and freedom. Adam Smith, John Locke and John Stuart Mill won the arguments, and Britain’s global influence spread them. Britain didn’t invent democracy, but matured it over centuries and ensured that it became dominant.



Britain’s greatest creations are the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, all stable, affluent, successful liberal democracies which have for more than a century been a magnet to the rest of the world. No other European country ever managed such an achievement. All stayed free of the tyrannies of fascism, communism and military dictatorship that benighted almost everywhere else. In the dark days of the second world war, Britain and its former colonies were just about the only democracies in existence; now democracy embraces much of humanity. Of the G8 countries, all but Russia (and arguably even she) owe their current status as free-market democracies to Britain and its former colonies. The English-speaking economies amount to more thBan a third of world GDP.

With just 1 per cent of the world’s population, Britain has united the world with a truly global language, allowing people to speak unto people for the first time in history (French was little more than a language for elites). These islands make up less than a fifth of 1 per cent of the world’s land area, and yet their capital dictates to the rest of the world its time zones and degrees of east and west.




I don't have an ounce of British blood in me, yet when I was in England, it felt like my own country (with worse food, however), and I claim its history as my own.
English history is part of my heritage as a citizen of a democracy. Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Hampton Court, the Tower of London--they belong to me.

I love France and Italy, but they are foreign. Britain is mine. Truly the Mother Country.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bad hair day

.... Curly haired people simply cannot live in humid environments and keep any semblence of self respect. None. I am single handedly putting the children of the heirs to the Sebastian Hair Product line through college with my myriad assortment of anti-frizz formulas at this point. Think red-headed and very white Tina Turner. Early 80's frizz Cher (once again with red hair).


Anti-curl products only work under special circumstances: 72 degrees, no rain, no snow-but I keep buying them. The triumph of hope over experience.

Candy is dandy, but...

I've been dreaming up a riposte to this one

Isabel Button disses New Jersey, home of baked ziti and the cannoli:

In New Jersey, mosquitos have their own lobby...


FYI, Isabel, in New Jersey mosquitos vote. The mosquito-American vote is vital, almost as active as the defunct-American vote. It is a real inspiration to watch the dead rise from their graves, election after election. Followed by the mosquito-Americans, of course. Very moving.

The dress that needs to be loved or it kills you

New frontiers in dress design:

With Mollycoddle, Christine Liu wanted to explore the relationship that people have with their clothes.
Mollycoddle is a dress with a hunger for love and attention. Its wearer needs the dress for obvious (coverage) or nonobvious (personal) reasons, and in turn, the dress needs the wearer. Mollycoddle wants to be touched and caressed by the wearer on a semi-regular basis, but it can be happy being touched by other people, too....

If the dress doesnt get loved enough, it gets needier and starts squeezing the wearer, begging for a touch or two. It will send vibrations as well. First it's a little huggy-plead which gets more aggressive with time. If its begging is ignored the thing will squeeze you to, ostensibly, death.

Christine Liu explained that "the touch part works, the squeeze part is still ongoing. i would like to have a corset-like frame in there to do that, but for the current prototype i have some naggy pager motors in there for vibrations along the kidneys and a tie-around necklace with its ends connected to some motors for squeezes around the neck. i didnt want to kill anyone in the construction of this thing, so i'm treading carefully."

Introducing John Roberts

What an embarassing moment. Like Tom Sawyer, Roberts got to hear his eulogy. Unlike Tom, all eyes were on him and he looked distinctly uncomfortable under the scrutiny of the camera. The poor man didn't seem to know whether to look up or down.

The whole thing was hokey and slightly embarassing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Plame Blame Game explained, sort of

Yahoo news reports:

Matt Cooper called to give me a heads-up that he's got a welfare reform story coming," Rove wrote Hadley, who has since risen to the top job of national security adviser.

"When he finished his brief heads-up he immediately launched into Niger. Isn't this damaging? Hasn't the president been hurt? I didn't take the bait, but I said if I were him I wouldn't get Time far out in front on this."

Frederick Jones, a spokesman for Hadley, said Friday he could not comment due to the continuing criminal investigation. Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, said his client answered all the questions prosecutors asked during three grand jury appearances. He said Rove never invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination or Bush's executive privilege guaranteeing confidential advice from aides.

Rove, Bush's closest adviser, told a grand jury the e-mail was consistent with his recollection that his intention in talking with Cooper wasn't to divulge Plame's identity but to caution the reporter against certain allegations Plame's husband was making, according to legal professionals familiar with Rove's testimony.
They spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the grand jury investigation.

Rove sent the e-mail shortly before leaving the White House early for a family vacation that weekend, already aware that Novak was planning an article about Plame and Wilson in his column, the legal sources said.

Rove also knew that then-CIA Director George Tenet was about to issue a dramatic statement that took responsibility for some bad Iraq intelligence but that also called into question some of Wilson's assertions, the sources said.


Republicans cheered the latest revelations Friday, saying they showed Rove wasn't trying to hurt Plame but instead was trying to informally warn reporters to be cautious about some of

Time to stop the Rove Resign Rant.

A lesson in natural history

Today, I learned about Frogs, and how they throw up. Oddly enough, this is one thing about frogs that I have never deeply pondered. You would think that 'How Frogs Puke' would have been right up there on my list, but no.

Apparently, most frogs can intentionally vomit up their entire stomachs, and then use their front legs to shove the offending matter out. Then they simply re-swallow their stomachs and continue on their merry way. No muss, no fuss.

Alternative history--the Crusades

Consider the situation in the West only 319 years ago. In 1683, the armies of the Ottoman Turks were laying siege to Vienna. Vienna, in the center of Europe, nearly fell to the Turks. It was Jan Sobieski and his Polish cavalry who helped to break the siege of Vienna and preserve the West.


Wow! That was close! What if Vienna had fallen to these fanatical Muslims. Maybe by the twentieth century they would have created a bigot like Al-Adolph bin Hitler, who would persecute Jews? Maybe put them in death camps? Nah, never happen.

There always has to be a scapegoat, but must it always be us?

This article is also posted onblogger news network.

In government, nothing succeeds like failure

Via red state rant:
James Lewis analyzes the Plame Blame Game:

Behind the scenes, the single most important reason for the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson farce is that CIA Director Porter Goss has finally started to clean house at Langley. Goss's long-overdue shake-up is clearly backed by the White House, the top levels of the Pentagon and State Department, and the new National Director of Intelligence, John Negroponte.

Judging by Director Goss's remarks at his Senate confirmation hearings, those whose jobs are most in danger include the CIA "experts" in WMD proliferation – Valerie Plame's outfit – who completely failed to anticipate the Indian and Pakistani nukes, and just couldn't figure out what was going on with Iraqi WMDs. Valerie Plame's bosses are facing the axe for decades of failures.


In real life, these people would have been shown the door. Oh, wait--Bernie Ebbers? Didn't know what was going on at WorldCom? Hey, he got his munificent salary just for showing up--doing anything would have cost extra.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Comedy by Strindberg

I recently attended a performance at the Berkshire Theater Festival of The Father by Strindberg, very, very serious stuff. Swedish angst. Ingmar Bergman live, so to speak. Then why was the audience laughing so much?

A husband and wife hate each other--so far, so good. The main object of their power struggle is the education of their adolescent daughter. Is she to go to town or stay at home? Husband's monologue: all these women in the house are driving me crazy. Much tearing of hair and chewing of scenery, accompanied by stifled giggles from the audience, who are trying to behave. H complains that he keeps writing to his bookseller and ordering books but does not recieve them. Intercepts letter from bookseller announcing that wife has countermanded his orders. More dire pronouncements about women. More giggling, not so stifled this time, by audience.

Wife enters. Not much sympathy for her, as she looks and acts like Cruella deVil, or better yet, the evil stepmother in Snow White.

A spirit,(of what?) so far visible only through a scrim, brings a lantern and hangs it up, and puts a letter on the desk. Contents of letter never revealed, but wife sees it and dramatically tears it up, uttering hysterical cry. There's also a doddering old nurse with osteoporosis who intrudes now and then, dodders a bit, and wrings her hands.

In monologue, wife hatches plot to drive husband crazy. Plot works instantly. H throws lantern at her. He goes nuts, falls on floor, doctor announces he has had a stroke. Curtain falls, to roars from audience which has by now lost all inhibition.

These fun-loving Swedes!

It's well known that Strindberg went nuts a number of times. He also had three wives but could never get it right. Even in his most normal moments, I doubt he was much fun to be around.

Democrats talk caca!

Democrats try to win the war of ideas, with Paul Begala as the resident philosopher:

Begala... declared that Republicans had "done a p***-poor job of defending" the U.S.

Republicans, he said, "want to kill us."

"I was driving past the Pentagon when that plane hit" on Sept. 11, 2001. "I had friends on that plane; this is deadly serious to me," Begala said.

"They want to kill me and my children if they can. But if they just kill me and not my children, they want my children to be comforted -- that while they didn't protect me because they cut my taxes, my children won't have to pay any money on the money they inherit," Begala said. "That is bulls*** national defense, and we should say tha
t."

Naughty, naughty Democrats!

The toothbrush from hell

I finally bought myself a rechargeable Oral-B toothbrush. It came in a blister pack the size of a book. I've never seen an actual blister like that--it looked like a boil from hell on steroids.

I attempted to liberate the brush from the monster blister. They showed an illustration of a scissors on the package, so I didn't waste time trying to rip it apart with my bare hands. The packaging made short work of the scissors, which will never cut again. So I got a steak knife. No go. Okay, I'm smarter than the anti-Semitic (Braun is a German company) fiends who designed this thing. I went for my best Cutco knife, the one sold me for $60 by my neighbor's son to work his way through college.

After almost sacrificing a finger or two, I managed to cut it partway open so I could reach in and grab the toothbrush part. But the rest was in a cardboard box, deep inside. More sawing. I finally got the box and was attempting to mate the toothbrushing thingy with the charging thingy, when a bunch of screws fell out on my lap.

You have to assemble the damn thing yourself.

Whatever the blister pack is made of, they should use it to armor our troops in Iraq.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Woman tortured at Abu Graib

Will this outrage never stop?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

And what a birthday party it was!

Airport Security's Grand Illusion

By Anne Applebaum

Wednesday, June 15, 2005; Page A25

If you happen to be reading this while standing in one of those disturbingly slow, zigzag lines at airport security -- looking repeatedly at your watch, wondering if this time you really will miss the plane -- here's something to make you feel worse: Almost none of the agony you are experiencing is making you safer, at least not to any statistically significant or economically rational degree. Certainly any logical analysis of the money that has been spent on the airport security system since Sept. 11, 2001, and the security that the system has created, must lead to that conclusion.
[]
...99.992 percent of intercepted items were nail scissors, cigarette lighters, penknives and the like.

Yet this mass ceremonial sacrifice of toenail clippers on the altar of security comes at an extraordinarily high price. The annual budget of the federal Transportation Security Administration hovers around $5.5 billion -- just about the same price as the entire FBI -- a figure that doesn't include the cost of wasted time. []There has also been a price to pay in waste, since when that much money is rubbed into a problem with that kind of speed -- remember, the TSA had only 13 employees in January 2002 -- a lot of it gets misspent. In the case of the TSA, that waste includes $350,000 for a gym, $500,000 for artwork and silk plants at the agency's new operations center, and $461,000 for its first-birthday party. More to the point, the agency has spent millions, even billions, on technology that is inappropriate or outdated.
In fact, better security didn't have to cost that much. Probably the most significant measure taken in the past four years was one funded not by the government but by the airline industry, which put bulletproof doors on its cockpits at the relatively low price of $300 million to $500 million over 10 years. In extremely blunt terms, that means that while it may still be possible to blow up a plane (and murder 150 people), it is now virtually impossible to drive a plane into an office building (and murder thousands). By even the crudest cost-benefit risk analysis, bulletproof cockpit doors, which nobody notices, have the potential to save far more lives, at a far lower cost per life, than the screeners who open your child's backpack and your grandmother's purse while you stand around in your socks waiting for them to finish.

But, then, this isn't a country that has ever been good at risk analysis. If it were, we would never have invented the TSA at all. Instead, we would have taken that $5.5 billion, doubled the FBI's budget, and set up a questioning system that identifies potentially suspicious passengers, as the Israelis do. Even now, it's not too late to abolish the TSA, create a federal training program for airport screeners, and then let private companies worry about how many people to hire, which technology to buy and how long the tables in front of the X-ray machines should be (that last issue being featured in a recent government report). But every time that suggestion is made in Congress, someone denounces the plan as a "privatization" of our security and a sellout.



Actually, the whole thing is a jobs program. Why do you think unemployment is down?

The sinister Karl Rove

...Mr. Rove is turning out to be the real "whistleblower" in this whole sorry pseudo-scandal. He's the one who warned Time's Matthew Cooper and other reporters to be wary of Mr. Wilson's credibility. He's the one who told the press the truth that Mr. Wilson had been recommended for the CIA consulting gig by his wife, not by Vice President Dick Cheney as Mr. Wilson was asserting on the airwaves. In short, Mr. Rove provided important background so Americans could understand that Mr. Wilson wasn't a whistleblower but was a partisan trying to discredit the Iraq War in an election campaign.

Tinkerty Tonk has a roundup of the latest Roviana.

The whole episode makes me wonder what in hell we have a CIA for. The people who selected Wilson for a top-secret mission to Niger are to be compared in ineptitude with the bunch who hired Ward Churchill. I wouldn't hire a plumber on his wife's recommendation. Not, at least, without asking for references or doing a background check. (Our library instituted background checks on new hires after 9/11. Cost: $15.) But wait--isn't the CIA supposed to be this terrific bunch of intelligence agents? No one currently on the payroll would do? An unknown jerk is hired on his wife's recommendation for a routine mission without even a cursory look into his background. They could have googled him.

As for Ms. Plame: apparently she was no longer a secret agent, having recently been outed by someone else. Her duties seem to have included taking papers out of her inbox and putting them in her outbox. Not a file clerk--that's a higher level.

I wonder how much dead wood is in the CIA. I'd guess about 99 percent.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Another day, another meme

Miss Rachel has saddled me with another meme. What historical moments would I have liked to be present at?

I only want to be present at historical moments where I am rich, famous, beautiful, and eating good food. Also, surrounded by fawning fans. Thus, I would like to have been present at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, but definitely not as a serving maid or varlet or even the person in charge of decorations.

Okay, seriously: I would love to be present in Dr. Johnson's time, hanging out in the coffee house while Johnson made witty remarks and Boswell sat at his knee, taking it all down. I would love to have been present when he said, "A man who is tired of London is tired of life." My sentiments exactly.

I would love to have been present in Paris between the wars, as a rich young expatriate, preferably a talented one. They all seemed to have such a good time.

I would like to have been present for the opening concert at Carnegie Hall. Good seats, please.

I would like to have been present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

I would like to have seen General Lee surrender his sword to General Grant at the courthouse at Appomatox, VA. I also wish I could be sure I spelled it right. It looks funny to me.

I would like to have lived in the Gilded Age as an ostentaneous nouveau riche who knew how to throw money around and wore lots of jewels.

I would love to have heard Disraeli make a speech in Parliament when he was Prime Minister.

I would love to have been in Vienna when Mozart conducted one of his own symphonies. Or when Mahler conducted one of his.

Am I allowed to go into the future? I would like to be present when all the terrorists had been hounded to death and peace ruled the world.

Okay, Matt, take it from there.

I had to open my big mouth

I announced the other day that I would be posting at bnn.net. What do you know, the site is down! Maybe if I joined Al Queda, they would go out of business?

Monday, July 11, 2005

Don't read this if you're from Ohio

In the decadent Eastern State where I now live, people refer to some people's mode of dressing as "Full Cleveland" or "half Cleveland." Neither is meant to be a compliment. I guess another word for it would be "hick," "rube," or possibly "rustic."

Let me give you an example. We once went to a function where a guy at my table wore a pink sports jacket, white shirt with pink design, pink tie, white pants, white patent leather shoes, and pink socks. He was a glorious specimen in all his pinkhood or pinkitude. A half Cleveland would wear an ordinary shirt, a golf shirt maybe, with bright red or green pants, a wbite patent leather belt, and white patent leather loafers, no socks.

I saw one of these at a reunion I attended at my Alma Mater. I pointed him out and whispered, "half Cleveland." My friend didn't get it. I tried to explain but came off sounding very lame. She looked somewhat put out.

She was from Cleveland. "What does everyone dump on Cleveland for?" she asked plaintively.

I apologized--that was very crude. Clevelanders are fine folks. From now on, I will refer to "half Buffalo" and "full Buffalo." I don't know anyone from Buffalo.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Do you really want to get into your old clothes again?

Martin Vander Weyer hauls out unstylish old clothes:

I have been involved, secretively, in a significant challenge of my own: to lose a stone and a half in 12 weeks. After a succession of big lunches on the slopes in March, my annual skiing party decided collectively that we had run to flab, and one friend came up with a scheme to raise money for the British Ski Club for the Disabled by each achieving specified weight-loss targets. Remarkably, we all did it, and our heaviest contestant, a very big boy indeed, shed an awesome 36lbs on a regime of brown rice, oily fish and industrial muesli. The boring thing about dieting is talking about it — hence the secretiveness — but the pleasing thing is that it makes available eras of wardrobe that you never thought you would visit again. I’m already back in my 1987 cream linen suit, and if I keep going I can see some wicked batik shirts and flared trousers at the end of the rail.


My advice: Forget the bell bottoms. You old clothes fit the old you. Get new clothese for the new you.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

My bio at BNN (Blogger News Netwoek)

I just joined bnn. Here is my bio which appears on their author's list:
Miriam... blogs at miriam's ideas. A recovering librarian and one-book author, Miriam has the distinction of being the first blogger to post about blogging naked (or nekkid, if you prefer). The idea was seized upon by Matthew Peek, who gave her her 15 minutes of fame, plus lots of visits from porn sites. These visitors were disappointed. Nothing going on here, folks, move on!
Miriam likes to write about politics, libraries, books, and the craziness (mishugas) of American politicians, who, if they had to earn a living, would surely starve.Also writes about Israeli politics when she can figure out what the hell is going on.Supports our troops, their mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters and wives and husbands and their cousins and their sisters and their aunts.

Be sure to read me over there. There are other people blogging there who are good, too.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Books are my drug of choice

As a kid, I read to escape a less-than-optimum life. Reading under the covers at night, hoping the nuns couldn’t see the flashlight, I’d covered all the Nancy Drew books by the time I was eight. Ruined my eyesight in the process.

Read-a-holics cannot resist the printed word: It starts with cereal boxes at the breakfast table or newspapers abandoned in the restaurant booth by whomever ate there before you and continues into reading your high school English lit books the day you get them. This is not virtue. A therapist once posed the question: “so when did you discover that books were a neurotic escape?”

Motto: never leave home without a book. You never know when you might be trapped somewhere with nothing to read. Horrors.


I'm glad someone shares my obsession. I read on the Stairmaster, the treadmill--not great literature, but neverthess, something. (Actually, I find People magazine goes well on the Stairmaster. So does the New Yorker.)

I feel quite queasy when I go somewhere without a book. On vacation, I usually bring three for each day, just in case....And there's one in the car, in case I get stuck in traffic.

Logan Pearsall Smith said it best: "People say tht life is the thing, but as for me, I prefer reading."

New Jersey drivers

There are two kinds of drivers in New Jersey--the quick and the dead.

An example of the quick: the guy who, while driving in the far left lane, decides he needs to get off the highway right away and cuts horizontally in front of three cars in the right hand lanes in order to make his getaway. Or the fellow who threads his way like a needle, in and out of lanes on the Turnpike or the Garden State Parkway, generally without using his turn signals.

These people are usually young, and usually male. But when they hit 65 (years, not miles) they suddenly start wearing old guy hats and driving in the left lane at 22 miles an hour with their right blinker flashing on and off. They only give up this position when the driver behind them decides to pass on the right. These are the dead.

How I went to Rome with my box-cutter

I've carried a box cutter for a long time, even before 9/11. I found it handy to open things, like packets of crackers and small things, like a box of pins, which come mounted on a large card with a blister pack.

After September 11, I realized that box-cutters were a big no-no, so reminded myself to take the damn thing out of my purse and stow it somewhere.

Somehow, in all the excitement, I forgot. It was only when I was in Rome, rummaging in my purse for a tissue or something, that I encountered my box-cutter. It had gone through airport security without a hitch.

I can only figure that it must be made of kryptonite.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A lukewarm believer explains his religious observance

From the Telegraph:

I'm not 'devout', that's why I'm an Anglican
By Quentin Letts
(Filed: 03/07/2005)

Last Sunday 150,000 people went to Glastonbury, la-la'd about love and peace, heard a sermon (from Bishop Geldof) and were given hours of airtime by the BBC. Also last Sunday, up and down this bruised old land of ours, at least eight times that many souls quietly entered Anglican churches and dropped to their knees, as they do every week of every year.

....
Loose-shirted formulators of fashion do not think much of the Church. That is, they neither approve of it nor do they afford it much thought. It has been this way for perhaps 25 years....

[I]t is time we realised how lucky we are in our official Church. It is time our vicars were thanked for their good works, their stoicism and their general lack of hysterics....

I go along every week primarily because I love singing hymns. There's little to beat a good blast of Praise My Soul or the Cathedral Psalter setting of the Te Deum before lunch. I suppose I also go because I love the Book of Common Prayer, which the churches in our part of Herefordshire still use, and because I want Cranmer's cadences to drip into my children's minds. This is partly a cultural thing, partly aesthetic. Religion is there, too, in the background, but I would not dare claim to understand or believe fully in every part of the liturgy.

Churchgoing is a communal affair. I don't meant that sign of the peace nonsense, which makes me feel awkward, but the sense of slow-burn fellowship that can develop with one's fellow parishioners. A pressure group was recently sniffy about how some parishes are now little more than "clubs" for their congregations. What's wrong with that? "Clubs" (a Bad Thing in 21st century-speak) are no more than another way of saying "strong communities" (Good Thing).

I go to church for the smell of the flagstones, the Rizla rustle of the Bible, the flicker of candles, the shiver of pride when the priest blesses our youngsters, the taste of the fortified wine and the sense of completeness when returning to one's pew after Communion. All these things say "Sunday" to my body and my being. In a world so full of false prophets, they help guy the week to something solid. And then comes the moment when the service is over, when the children can dash into the graveyard and skip around tombstones. It is something I did as a child and I am glad my children do it, too. It lends harmony to the chime of passing years....

Critics often accuse the Church, particularly the Archbishop of Canterbury, of failing to show moral leadership. They say that today's Anglican clergy are weak. Archbishop Rowan is mocked not only for his beard but also for failing to froth like some fundamentalist mullah.

I prefer it this way. Maybe this is a very English and Protestant thing, but I want my relationship with God, if it exists, to be a private thing. I don't so much want to be told what to believe as to be shown how. Rowan Williams seems rather gently brilliant at that.

His stance on sexuality, tolerant but discreet, suits the age. In our area last year we welcomed a new curate, a jovial, big-haired woman who spoke up well in the pulpit and seemed a thoroughly good egg. Then a national newspaper reported, excitedly, that our new curate had started life as a man. I half expected the parish to be outraged but quite the reverse happened. Nonchalance is but another way of saying tolerance, and tolerance is a proper Christian characteristic. That's what happened.

Our curate, with her rich tenor singing voice, is exceedingly popular and is soon to be ordained. (A traditionalist friend of mine opposed to female vicars, meanwhile, is still trying to work out whether or not it is doctrinally OK for him to take communion from her.)

Fire and brimstone is still there in the Book of Common Prayer, should your taste run to that sort of thing. "Cursed are the unmerciful, fornicators and adulterers, covetous persons, idolaters, slanderers, drunkards and extortioners," growls a commination just before the Psalms.

To this the response, if not "Amen", is either "blimey", or a mumbled, "now you put it like that, Lord, is there any chance you could perhaps please have mercy on our fragile, flawed beings?" None of us, not even our priests or archbishops, is perfect. But I reckon the dear old Church of England is a fine and forgiving institution, and way less feeble than strangers and critics presume.




I believe he has hit upon the reason Jews flock to the synagogue over the high holidays (but on no other days).
The sounds of the cantor, the beautiful and noble sound of the Hebrew prayers, the hush, the sight of children wiggling in their seats--it gets in your blood.

Happy Fourth of July

Friday, July 01, 2005

The prisoners at Gitmo are forced to eat--margarine!

By way of Powerline:

Prisoners of the Soviets' Gulag Archipelago ate a few hundred calories a day, if they were lucky, mostly thin soup made of fishheads and the like. At Gitmo, detainees are given -- well, let's see . . . .

For breakfast: Pancakes, syrup, orange juice, fruit, milk, margarine, and coffee or tea. Or a whole-wheat bagel, oatmeal, juice, fruit, scrambled eggs, milk, margarine, and coffee or tea. Or whole-wheat bread, Raisin Bran, orange juice, fruit, milk, a "veggie patty," margarine, and coffee or tea.

For lunch: Whole-wheat pita, long-grain brown rice, canned peaches, steamed asparagus, northern beans, margarine, and tea or drink-ade. Or whole-wheat bread, tossed green rice, fresh fruit, wax beans, a seasoned beef patty, margarine, and tea or drink-ade. Or a whole-wheat bread slice, garlic mashed potatoes, canned pears, seasoned peas, kidney beans, margarine, and tea or drink-ade.

For dinner: Noodles Jefferson, a whole-wheat bread slice, fresh fruit, green beans, carrot sticks, baked chicken breast in broth, margarine, and tea or drink-ade. Or rice pilaf, whole-wheat pita, fresh fruit, steamed cauliflower, a veggie patty, margarine, and tea or drink-ade. Or whole-wheat bread, long-grain brown rice, fresh fruit, steamed carrots, broccoli or celery, lemon baked fish, margarine, and tea or drink-ade.

Other menu items include pineapple, okra, a beef patty with onions, succotash, black-eyed peas, Lyonnaise rice, spicy baked fish, bayou chicken breast, acorn squash, honey-glazed chicken, chickpeas, spinach, tandoori chicken, and mustard dill baked fish.

The daily caloric intake from the meals ranges from 2,500 to 2,900. Of course, the menus above represent just one 12-day cycle. Some detainees -- prisoners of the terror war -- have been held for years now.... Plus, all that margarine must be rough on the arteries.

So it's no wonder Senator Dick Durbin compared Gitmo with the gulag, Nazi death camps, and the killing fields of Cambodia. Rice pilaf again?

The horror.


Civilized Americans, unite. Demand butter for these unfortunates.