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Friday, March 31, 2006

Subtle distinctions in criminal behavior

Akaky doesn't get it:

The headline of today's dead tree edition of the Middletown (N.Y.) Times Herald Record reads, "Should Illegal Immigration Be A Crime," a statement that causes no end of cognitive dissonance among those of us with access to a dictionary, since it makes us all wonder if the word illegal has some shade of meaning that we've missed somehow. I was under the impression that illegal immigration was immigration in violation of the law, and that violating the law and illegality were more or less the same thing, and that both states were synonomous with committing a crime.

I just returned from Leftylooneyville...

also known as my family. They are smart people, truly. And nice. So how can they parrot "Bush lied"? Typical exchange:

Beloved relative I: Capitalism is inherently corrupt.

BR II: (Pained look) But what is there that's better?

BR I: Communism!

BR II: But--I mean, look at didn't work for them, surely?

BR I: It's never been tried.

BR II: ? (Silence, look of disbelief)

This sort of thing is what I had to contend with, when the discussion turned to politics. In the hopes that other topics would be explored, I walked as through a minefield.

Some tenets of the creed:
Drug companies are greedy and bad.
The un-health-insured are many, all of them sick with potentially fatal diseases, and are being turned away daily from the life-saving treatment they need by hard-hearted capitalists, mainly George Bush.
More money is needed for public transportation, whether anyone wants it or not.
The environment is in imminent danger. We might wake up tomorrow to find we have been globally warmed to death. Or frozen by nuclear winter. Bad either way.
If the environment doesn't get us, the pollutants currently being poured into the rivers out of sheer spite by evil manufacturers will poison us all by September.
Hillary is pandering to the Christian right. Bad Hillary!
Bush should be impeached, censured, or at least sent to his room until he learns to behave.
The Iraqis were happier under good old Saddam Hussein.

Evil kitty placed under house arrest

From linda sog.

We're very picky about who we allow to be a citizen

Just because a guy is a marine serving in Iraq doesn't satisfy our fastidious bureaucrats:

George [the Marine] told the [call-in] show's host that the INS dolt who told him over the phone that his application forms were not filled out properly and she was 'following the letter of the law.'

Thank God for the integrity of public servants.

Christiane Amanpour does it again

According to the Ace,

I thought I’d make a brief analogy to explain why CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour’s defense of Hamas’s recent election victory in the Palestinian Authority was intellectually dishonest, and completely repulsive. Amanpour makes the ridiculous argument that the Palestinians didn’t vote for Hamas because they were a terrorist group that was dedicated to wiping Israel off of the map, but because they were frustrated with how corrupt the ruling Fatah Party was, and because Hamas has built schools, and health clinics etc.

Plus ca change, plus le meme chose. The excuse for Mussolini was, he made the trains run on time. This totally excuses his being a fascist, imprisoning his political enemies, getting in bed with Hitler, etc.

As for Amanpour, the mere sound of her voice makes me break out in hives, but I guess people think she sounds dashingly European. My theory is that her real name is Christie Rafferty and hails from Bayonne, New Jersey, but I can't prove it.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Are you sitting down?

Of course you are, you wouldn't be reading this standing up at the computer, would you?

Okay, listen up. I am going away for a few days, lured by the bright lights of Broadway. Back Friday. See you soon.

I am posting this announcement because every time I stop blogging for three days, you all desert me. So this is a warning. Come back in April. Remember: we know who you are.

There she goes again...

about libraries:
But why are libraries necessary in this age of the internet and Google? Isn’t every scrap of information we could ever want soon going to be available online?

Well, all the things that the internet can’t provide are part of the essential experience of going to a library. First, there’s the place itself: a special place, dedicated to assembling knowledge and making it available....

A book is infinitely more comfortable and pleasant and informative than a screen. The very impress of the print on the paper is a valuable part of your experience of the book.
Libraries give us this physical engagement in a way that no Google ever will.

Thirdly, there’s the infinite value of browsing. You simply don’t know what you’ll find till you’re in front of a range of shelves full of books. Of course they say you can browse on the internet, but it isn’t really browsing; some system or algorithm has done the selecting for you. Much, much better to stand in front of a shelf of books and simply pick them up and look for yourself. You never know what you’ll find — and that’s exactly the point.

Fourthly, there’s the library staff. What helpfulness, what experience, what knowledge! Compared with a face-to-face conversation with a real live intelligent informed human being who knows the sort of thing you’re looking for and can suggest more ways than one of getting to it, the internet is like an automated answering service: ignorant, mechanical, inhuman, stupid, graceless and hugely frustrating. Long live librarians.

So libraries of every sort are treasure houses. I love them, I cherish them, I use them all the time, I could not bear to live in a society without them....

I’m on the side of everyone who uses libraries, from the little child looking through the picture books, to the scholar searching for hard-to-find knowledge, to the busy man or woman looking for something entertaining to read on the train, to the poor old vagrant who’s just come in to sit near the radiator on a winter’s day. The library is for all of us. Let’s look after it!

Ht to normblog.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Breast worship

In Japan.


I heart Yiddish

Yiddish is known as mamaloshen, meaning mother's talk--"the language we speak at home."In this case it was the home of my grandmother, whose first language it was. Either Yiddish is a language which lends itself to sarcasm or my grandmother was sarcastic. I suspect the latter. She had a tongue like a razor blade. Double edged.

Some samples:
"Gay mit der kopp in dererd und de fiss in klaishter" means approximately: go with your head in hell and your feet in church.

"A chalerya," an all-purpose curse that means you should catch cholera.

"Bahayma"=big clumsy oaf (literally behemoth).

"Vas daff min honeck ven dreck is ziss?" Why do you need honey when shit is sweet to you? (Said when a granddaughter was dating a loser.)

"Tsvay klugen und ein vugen." Klug is a plague and vugen is a wagon. It's not real good in English. It means two jerks who belong together. Think Bill and Hillary Clinton. Ward Churchill and Noam Chomsky. You get the idea.

" (Insert name here) is a mayven vie a chazer on hayven." A mayven is a judge, a chazer is a pig, and hayven are oats. Pigs are not good judges of oats. So (Insert name here) doesn't know what he/she is talking about.

Forgive my transliteration.

I've always felt it was my acquaintance with Yiddish which made me interested in learning languages.

Jacques Chirac threatens to take his toys and go home

if the other kids don't play nice:
…perhaps the most memorable moment in Brussels was when French President Chirac stormed out to protest a decision by fellow Frenchman Ernest-Antoine Seilliere, head of the European UNICE employers group, to speak English.

Original in Today online.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Was everything all right?

According to l is for law school, When a manager comes to your table to ask how everything is, it actually does make you feel better about the restaurant.

Oh, I don't know. My friend Betty and I once had breakfast in a Friendly's restaurant. When we paid the bill, the cashier asked, "Was everything all right?" Betty replied: "They cut the toast in half. It should be cut into triangles." An uncomfortable silence ensued, during which one patron pushed his face two inches from hers.

On the same trip (I don't know what's in the water around there), we went to a steak place. This time the manager came around and asked if everything was all right. I asked him for a butter knife. The knives we had were steak knives, and naturally enough, I had cut my steak with it. I wanted a butter knife to butter my bread. A clean knife, not covered with steak juice. He apologized and said they did not have butter knives, they were a chain and management didn't provide them.

So: yes, it makes you feel better when they ask if everything is all right, but only when everything is all right.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Confusion to our enemies

The New York Times loses readership.

The Palestinians know who their friends are

Terrorists spare BBC office.

A few days ago I wrote that during a rampage in Gaza, Palestinian terrorists took an Associated Press photographer into “protective custody” so that nothing would happen to them. Now Tom gross notes that the BBC office in Gaza was spared any destruction. It all goes to show that the Palestians understand that the AP and BBC (and others as well)are anti-Israeli news organizations doing their bidding. It’s not really in dispute anymore, since the Palestinians have proven it to be true.
Apparently, nothing can penetrate the academic mind, except a bullet:

One clueless idiot says he feels sorry for the scum who snatched him.

The American professor, Douglas Johnson, said he was unharmed and understood his abductors' actions.

"They are angry over what is going on in Jericho. I feel sympathy with them," he told an AP reporter at an abandoned cemetery, where he was briefly held before being freed.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A message from the lovers of peace, Christian division

to the warmongers (that's us):

The 3 CPT members were held by patriotic Iraqis whom we sympathize with. These poor souls were so distressed by the occupation of their country and they had no other way to voice their opinion except by kidnapping hostages and chopping their heads off. They have done so in the most humane way.

“They killed Tom Fox because they wanted to tell the world that they wanted hospitals, schools, and Starbucks in the Sunni areas. We fully understand what motivated them to do so” said CPT head Dough Pritchard. “Nobody asked the occupation forces to free our members”.

Courtesy of sandmonkey.

Romance in the ancient world, Arab style

From protein wisdom.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What Bush should have said

according to Buckley. Read the whole thing, it's hilarious. A sample:

"Jesse Jackson is to helping black people what Ted Kennedy is to helping drowning victims."

"And although I have a great deal of personal affinity for Charlie Rangel, the fact that I have personally seen him arguing with a Snicker's bar on several occasion needs to be made public."

Babes and Boobs

From tinkertytonk, this news flash:

Joan Acocella reviews The Playmate Book: Six Decades of Centerfolds by Gretchen Edgren. Two things (heh) stand out when looking through the pictures of pinups past: The girl-next-door face and the enormous breasts.

What is the fascination with gigantic breasts about? Were all the men in America weaned too soon? Or what?

Aside from the dubious advantage of having men stare at your chest when you are talking to them, rather than look you in the eye, why do women want to have bigger breasts? Take it from one who knows, ownership of these, ah, items is strictly a mixed blessing. For one thing, you can't just go to Victoria's Secret and buy some of those sweet little nothings adorned with lace. The bras they have for women with serious boobs are the heavy industrial kind, with more rigging than a suspension bridge. The idea is to push them up until they reach your shoulderblades, and then flatten them out.

In order to get a bra that fits and looks okay, not nice but okay is to go to a place where they measure you and fit you properly. Unfortunately the only bras they sell in those places cost $65 and up.

Student loans are a great investment

especially when you have a Congressman in your pocket:

Duke Cunningham, the former American fighter ace and national hero, landed on CHANCE and drew the dreaded GO TO JAIL card this past Friday for admitting that he broke the rules related to acceptance of gifts from companies looking for congressional favoritism. In this case, what he did was correctly labeled as bribery.

Meanwhile, Kevin Madden, Tom DeLay's former communication director, who moved over to John Boehner's office after DeLay was indicted, was quoted by the Cincinnati Post last Friday as saying that the heavy criticism Boehner has received since he became House Majority Leader is correctly labeled as "frivolous."

See if you agree.

One of the areas where Boehner has taken the most criticism are his "fact finding" trips aboard private jets of companies that had business before his House Education and Workforce Committee.

And among his favorite "fact-finding" trips were the Boca Raton golf junkets sponsored by Al Lord, the Chairman of Sallie Mae, which is far and away the nation's largest holder of student loans.

Boehner has adamantly defended these types of trips, saying, "Lawmakers must be able to see what's going on around the country first hand," but everyone knows that the only fact about Boca Raton that's unknown at the beginning of these trips is who's going to shoot the lowest golf round after the plane lands.

But, that's how Boehner keeps up his tan, and getting him there is how Sallie Mae keeps up its profits.

Not sure what to make of all this yet? Then keep reading.

Al Lord is building his own private golf course and trying to buy a professional baseball team with his share of the profits, a good part of which can be traced back to the high margins resulting from the restriction-of-trade laws that have dogged the student loan industry for decades.

In fact, Sallie Mae's margins are so high, Fortune Magazine recently dubbed them as America's second most profitable company.

And the situation, according to the Free Market News, is going to get worse because when the newly passed laws affecting student loans go into effect this July, there will be far less competition than ever before.

Even before the latest legislative changes, student loans were already subject to one of the most anti-competitive laws on the nation's books. It's known as the "Single Holder Rule", which says that students and parents whose loans are owned by one lender cannot shop around for the best terms when they consolidate their loans.

For those not familiar with higher education matters, students and parents consolidate college loans for the same reasons homeowners refinance their mortgages -- to take advantage of low fixed rates and to lower monthly payments to a more affordable level.

But under the new laws, the vast majority of students and parents who have already consolidated, or do so in the future, will be legally barred from ever refinancing again, no matter what other lender later offers a lower rate.

Many would think it impossible that Sallie Mae could have pulled this off, especially under a Republican Congress that claims to support free trade. But think again -- it's the new law of the land.

Make no mistake about it; this is completely different from the Cunningham situation. In this case, no one's going to jail because everyone involved has followed the rules Congress set down.

But that doesn't make the rules right.

National columnists like Terry Savage, Dick Morris and Froma Harrop are calling the anti-refinancing scheme a rip off, shameful or abusive. The San Diego Union Tribune reported that Duncan Hunter (R-Ca), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, plans to propose a rule requiring the House Ethics Committee to verify that each privately funded trip that congressional lawmakers take is a genuine fact-finding mission, not a junket designed to win favor.

If Congress actually passes that rule, there may be less favoritism going forward, but that is not going to reverse the special interest legislation already on the books. Reduced competition will mean higher interest rates, and higher interest rates will result in students and parents having to pay billions of dollars more than an open market would dictate.

The cost of college is simply too high to allow Sallie Mae to keep collecting excess profits every time around the board.

Cunningham draws Monopoly's GO TO JAIL CARD - but Sallie Mae is still landing on FREE PARKING.

You former students out there--did you know that Sallie Mae was a private company established by Congress to get rich off those student loans you are struggling to pay off?

To learn more, visit

The triumph of common sense

From the Telegraph:

At last, the Law Lords have injected some sanity into the case of Shabina Begum, the Bedfordshire schoolgirl who had insisted when she was 15 that it was her "human right" to defy her school's dress code by covering herself from head to toe in the full Islamic jilbab.

Yesterday, they overturned a ruling by the Appeal Court that Denbigh High School in Luton had broken the law by insisting that she should wear the tunic and trousers of the shalwar kameez instead....
Every word of the Law Lords' ruling yesterday rang with religious tolerance and common sense. The school, said Lord Bingham, had taken "immense pains" to devise a dress code that respected Muslim beliefs "in an inclusive, unthreatening and uncompetitive way".

Lord Hoffman made an excellent point, too, when he said that there had been nothing to stop Shabina from going to a single-sex school, or to one that permitted the jilbab. To change schools might not have been entirely convenient for her, he said, "but people sometimes have to suffer some inconvenience for their beliefs".

Increasing productivity in academia

Can it be done? Sample quote:

In real life, when I'm looking through job applications, I'm struck at how many people have degrees in some soft science, and drifted down and out, through internships and other tangental employment in their field, into the retail world. So many newly minted sociology majors are folding sweaters at The Gap eight years later. (Helpful hint: "If an academic discipline has the word "science" in its title, it isn't a science.")

Toilet of my dreams

Or maybe not.

Would you, could you, use it?

Courtesy of meshugganah mommy.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A 21st century online romance

that ends badly.

You don't bring me flowers

My readership has more than doubled, from miserable to not so bad, considering. But--my readers seem to be the strong silent type. (Mostly.) So I figure I need a short public opinion poll to suss out the minds of the Great American Public, just like the politicians. I have accordingly prepared a short questionnaire. Just answer yes or no:

1. I like your blog but have nothing to say.

2. I am sick of reading about your stupid friends and relatives.

3. Enough about libraries already--give it a rest.

4. Quit talking about New Jersey. Oh yes, and forget about the baked ziti.

5. I am sick of your rants about Jimmy Carter--a great president and a fine, peace-loving man.

There now, that wasn't so difficult, was it?

If I don't get any answers, I am afraid I will have to go out in the garden and eat worms. And if that doesn't work, I'll hold my breath until I turn blue.

So comment.

The I-Hate-Jimmy-Carter Club

has plenty of members:

We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” quite naturally detest Jimmy Carter, the worst president of the 20th century. On occasion, we feel mildly bad about despising him so much. After all, he has spent an awful lot of time helping Habitat for Humanity, which is surely a noble cause.

Yet just when we start to feel as if we’ve given President Carter a bad rap, he ostentatiously pushes himself back into the political spotlight by making some asinine speech or coming to some moronic conclusion. And then we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” begin to believe that we didn’t sufficiently loathe this peanut-farming dipstick.

There are people who like JC, like some friends of ours who saw a laudatory Bill Moyers program devoted to this loathesome psalm-singing egomaniac.

I personally hold him responsible for 9/11. His bungling of the Iran hostage crisis gave aid and comfort to our enemies. He also brokered the deal which gave North Korea nukes.

And I'd be willing to bet that any nails he hammers for Habitat for Humanity are hammered in all crooked.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Memories of my uncle

My father's older brother has died at age 97. It was no surprise to anyone, as lately he has been at death's door so often they gave him his own key.

He was an old reprobate, who, as my father says, broke every rule twice. He did exactly as he pleased for most of his life, until he became too feeble.

He and my father were religious skeptics, to say the least, although their father was a rabbi. So I was surprised when my cousin (his daughter) called to ask if she could distribute his ashes on a Saturday. In my father's family I am considered the expert on things Judaic, I guess because there are rumors that I fast on Yom Kippur.

I didn't think he would have cared, but she told me that he would not let her get married on a Saturday. The family decided to scatter the ashes on Sunday morning and sit shiva lite on Sunday. It's funny how remnants of religous practice and belief cling to people. Or how people cling to them. My father once complained that everyone in his senior housing development was Christian and Republican.

The real religion in that family is leftyism, Jewish style. As Christians believe in the Virgin Birth, so they believe that Sacco and Vanzetti were innocent and Alger Hiss was framed. George W Bush is a devil in this cosmogeny, and FDR is their Mohammed. They have no interest in the actual facts of the case, any case, but believe with the guilelessness of children. And so it is in the whole family, root and branch, except me. All dues-paying members of the ACLU, except I don't think they send a check to the organization, except rarely.

I have to stress that the members of my family are really nice, good, intelligent people. But religion is religion. Faith to them is the evidence of things unseen. This secular faith doesn't prevent them from having all their offspring bar or bat mitzvah. My sister-in-law, on her deathbed, made her husband promise that he would have their son bar mitzvahed. She was as big a skeptic as the rest of them.

There is also an occasional Seder when all the family can get together, but they don't bother not to eat bread during Passover.

And people think the Orthodox are wacky.

Check out the Best of Me Symphony, 101, just posted

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Church songs for the lukewarm

From little miss attila, songs for those who don't believe in much but don't mind giving up an hour of golf on the occasional Sunday:

- Praise God from Whom All Affirmations Flow
— Amazing Grace, How Interesting the Sound
— Be Thou My Hobby
— O God, Our Enabler in Ages Past
— Blest Be the Tie That Doesn't Cramp My Style

Read it.

Nude Blogging Part Deux

15 Minute Lunch objects to this.

Even more shocking news

Court officials in Texas are as stupid and nasty as the ones in New Jersey. Dave gets a ticket and tries to straighten out the mess. $600 and $420 later, he is a free (but poorer) man.

Is the lesson of this to be a good little boy and make sure you renew your car registration and follow up to make sure the court got your check? Or is it that the greed of local government which substantially underwrites its costs with exorbitant fees for traffic fines is out of control? Or maybe I'm just a cranky middle-aged dude who should pay his fines and be glad government isn't oppressing him even more. Better that than the granny on social security who loses her apartment because she gets a ticket.

Can we revive these library rules?

From love the library:

No person shall be admitted who is in a state of intoxication, or is uncleanly in person or attire; nor shall any audible conversation be permitted in the Rooms.

More shocking news

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle relays the astonishing news from the New England Journal of Medicine:

Blacks and Hispanics tend to receive slightly better day-to-day medical care than whites when they see a doctor, a large and surprising study has found, starting a new debate about the impact of race on health in America.

The study, the most comprehensive examination of the quality of primary care in the United States, found no significant differences among patients from different ethnic groups or incomes once they get to see a doctor, but a slight trend toward better care for blacks and Hispanics.

The researchers stressed, however, that other disparities in health care do exist. Poor people and minorities, for example, are less likely to see a doctor in the first place and get far less expensive care. In addition, the minor variations among racial groups found in the new study are swamped by the low level of care everyone gets, they said.

"The bottom line of this study is patients are getting about half of recommended care, and it doesn't seem to matter where you live, whether you are white, black or Hispanic, are insured or uninsured," said Steven Asch, who helped conduct the study for the Rand Corp. "Everyone is at equal risk for poor quality of care."

Gosh--now I feel better--we're all in the dumper, together.

From Ace of trumps.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Shocking news

Our troops want to go home!

The U.S. government is reeling from the alarming results of a Zogby Poll that could change the very course of the war in Iraq.

According to the poll, 72% of troops currently stationed in Iraq would like to leave in the next year. In other words, U.S. troops shockingly want to return to their families from a foreign land where they dine on sand-encrusted rations and are targeted for agonizing, slow death by suicidal Islamic fundamentalists.

“I’m speechless,” said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. “Are they sure about the results? Our troops want only one more year of death lurking around every corner? Just 12 months of picking up pieces of blown-up Iraqis? How can this be?”....

The poll results run counter to polls conducted during other wars in U.S. history. For instance, during World War I, 84% of US soldiers “found the maze-like trenches of France a fun place to frolic,” and 78% “enjoyed starting the day with an invigorating round of hand to hand combat.”

Similarly, during World War II, 87% of US Troops “felt jipped that they weren’t on the Bataan Death March,” and 94% were “curious about what a German POW camp would be like.”

Clearly, the US military has some issues to address going forward.

In related news, 94% of firemen said that they did not enjoy having their flesh burned, and 84% of moms said that childbirth was "a bit uncomfortable."

Don't use stupid acronyms

From Tan:

Dear people who use the term ROTFLMAO,

What the f*** are you talking about?!!? I don’t get it. People don’t really say “rolling on the floor laughing my ass off” in actual conversation. So why do you have to shoehorn this waste of eight letters into our messaging and e-mails? It’s not even a good acronym. It’s not clever. It doesn’t spell anything. And it’s not even that short, ROTFLMAO is longer than most standard good-size words. It’s almost as long as the word “eucalyptus.” And no one wants to write that out. It’s as long as “laughing,” and longer than writing the word “funny.” Which is the point here, right? I can only presume you're trying to express your amusement, and the whole rolling on the floor and ass falling off is for “dramatic effect.” Correct me if I’m wrong.

And really, rolling on the floor? Laughing my ass off? What is the imagery we have going here? Has that ever happened at any time in the history of the universe? Someone rolling on the floor laughing, and their ass falls off? I don’t think so.... It’d be like “YO SON! Don’t tell that joke again, the last time you said it someone rolled on the floor and laughed his ass off. There was blood and not-yet-congealed shit everywhere. It was fucking nasty. I’m not down with that. Just tell the regular old funny ha-ha jokes.”

I heartily concur. Also, let's not hear any more about spitting soda on monitors or, shall we say, wetting your underwear? Kindly keep your gross physical activities to yourselves.

P.S. Have you seen a doctor about these symptoms?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Robert Scott, flying ace, RIP

Robert Scott, an American air ace of World War II, has died, according to the Telegraph.
Brigadier General Robert Scott, who has died aged 97, became an "ace" fighter pilot flying alongside RAF squadrons in Burma against the Japanese in 1942, an experience that he recorded in his classic wartime memoir God is my Co-Pilot; a film of the same name, starring Dennis Morgan as Scott, was released in 1945.

Scott was a flying instructor in California when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He immediately volunteered for active duty but, at the age of 34, he was deemed too old.

Eventually, falsely claiming that he had flown a B-17 bomber, he managed to be assigned to a bomber force due to make a top-secret raid on Tokyo.

When the operation was cancelled he was in Karachi and was soon appointed operations officer for the Assam-Burma-China Ferry Command, flying supplies across the Himalayas to, among others, General Claire Chennault and his American Volunteer Group (AVG), better known as the "Flying Tigers", who operated in support of Nationalist Chinese forces.

Scott struck up a close friendship with Chennault, and persuaded him to lend him a P-40 Warhawk fighter, supposedly to protect the ferry route from attack. Scott operated over northern Burma and in the defence of Rangoon, the vital port for supplies to China.

In this fighter, which he called Old Exterminator, he carried out many ground-attack sorties against the advancing Japanese army and was soon in combat with enemy fighters: within a few weeks he had destroyed eight.

After the Japanese had occupied Burma, Scott and his pilots continued the fight in western China. The RAF air commander was full of praise for the AVG pilots, commenting: "Their gallantry in action won the admiration of both services."

When the Flying Tigers were disbanded in July 1942 and absorbed into the USAAF, Scott was appointed to command them with the 23rd Fighter Group of the China Air Task Force. By February 1943 he had been credited with destroying 13 aircraft - the authorities would not confirm a further nine probables because his aircraft did not carry a gun camera.

His successes made him one of the first US air "aces" of the war. The enemy placed a reward on Scott's head and he became known as the "one-man air force". After flying 388 combat missions, he returned to the United States....

After his service in China in 1942-43, Scott toured the United States to help sell war bonds before becoming the deputy for operations at the School of Applied Tactics at Orlando, Florida. He returned to China in 1944 to fly rocket-firing fighter-bombers in attacks on rail yards and re-supply lines.

The next year he went to Okinawa to fly similar operations against enemy shipping and remained there until the end of the war. Scott was awarded two Silver Stars, three DFCs and three Air Medals....

In October 1957 Scott retired, becoming a prolific writer on aviation subjects; his books included The Day I Owned the Sky and Flying Tiger: Chennault of China. He also lectured widely. In 1980, at the age of 72, he spent 93 days walking and riding a camel along the entire 2,000-mile length of the Great Wall of China.

In 1986 Scott returned to Georgia, ... and immediately became involved in the building and establishment of the Museum of Aviation at Robins Air Base, south of Atlanta. He continued to fly, and on his 88th birthday he flew in a F-15 Eagle fighter and a year later in the B-1 Lancer bomber.

Scott remained very active until the end of his life. In 1996, at the age of 88, he ran with the Olympic torch along a section of Georgia Highway 247 named in his honour.

ACLU leadership also forgets tin hat

Freedom loving Muslim elected to ACLU Florida Board.

Another Baldwin brother goes outdoors without his tin hat

Ever heard of Stephen?

Neither have I.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Thrifty people

We have some very, very dear friends who are, um, thrifty. Their apartment in New York City was not air-conditioned, not because they couldn't get air-conditioning, but because of the cost. We considered air-conditioning, in New York, as about as necessary as running water.

H, the male half of this pair, brought his old shirts on vacation in Europe and threw away a different one a day. He was an accountant and had to wear a suit to work, but no-one said it had to be a good suit. He bought his suits at the 3 for $99 suit store, and dressed like a race-track tout.

Do I have to tell you that clipping coupons was a religion to these people, and that they used the special offers we all get in the mail? They sent in their rebate forms, including the register receipt and bar code, promptly, and wrote angry letters to the company if the rebate check was too slow in coming.

The high, or low, point of their frugal career came when H was thrown out of Burger King for bringing his own soda.

They are now retired, world travelers, and drive a Lexus.

We had air conditioning and paid for soda at Burger King, and drive a Ford.

Invasion of the Summer people

At this time of year the Summer people start to invade. You know who I mean--the guys in t-shirts and shorts when everyone else is at least wearing a jacket. Ladies with their belly-buttons (and everything else) showing. Their numbers increase slowly.
The Winter people, meanwhile, go about their business in ski-jackets, gloves, scarves wrapped around their fragile throats, and heavy gloves. For a while, there is a mix, people dressed as Eskimos vs. those dressed as South Seas Islanders. Gradually, without a shot being fired, the Summer people drive out the Winter people, except for a hardly few who still war their hats, scarves, and turtlenecks.

In the Fall, the process reverses itself. On the first day when the thermometer falls below 60, the Winter People are out in full array, wool hats pulled snugly down to their eyebrows. The Summer people are in the majority, but are clearly on the run.

The Rain people carry an umbrella even if the rains has been stopped for half an hour, or if there is a light mist. The un-Rain people don't consider anything short of a downpour as rain. They leave their umbrellas back in the car because it's not really rain, just a little drizzle. In England, where it is usually raining at least a little, the contrast is most noticeable. If everyone is carrying an (open)umbrella, you know it is a gale force hurricane.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The big rock candy mountain lives!

Kitchen faucet pours beer!
"We had settled down for a cozy Saturday evening, had a nice dinner, and I was just going to clean up a little," Gundersen, 50, told The Associated Press by telephone Monday. "I turned on the kitchen faucet and beer came out."

Ht to ace of trumps.

Weird bur funny blog of the day (month, year)

Muhammad and me is one of a kind. Be sure to read the comments. Especially those that threaten death to the cartoonist.

Deja vu all over again.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Simple rules for leading the crunchy con lifestyle

Contra-Crunchy gives instructions:

Thinking about buying a washing machine? Try washing your clothes in the river like your great-great grandmother and countless generations before her! Imagine the conviviality.
Read the whole thing.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Taking hate crimes seriously

The Trouser Quandary discusses new approaches to handling hate crimes:

With the burgeoning number of 'hate-crimes' seemingly always on the increase any form of abuse from sexual, racial or religious right up to the several new laws the government have outlined outlawing such things as ageism, size-ism, smell-ism, hairstyle-ism, looking-a-bit-funny-ism, soft-southern-poof-ism and many more such hateful acts, it seems the need for some new police response is now overwhelming....
Henceforth, not only will a squad of highly trained anti-personal abuse officers be sent to track down the perpetrators of the abuse, the police will also - on receiving a hotline call - dispatch a specially-trained team of personal self-esteem counsellors to try to boost the shattered self-esteem of the victim. "It is important that the feelings of the victim are recognised and sensitively dealt with," said yet another Chief Constable from somewhere probably a long way away from London. "Especially with the chance that the police could end up facing law suits ourselves. So we have instigated a scheme where any victim of a self-esteem attack can call on 24-hour support in case of sudden self-doubt, depression or, even, 'just feeling a bit sad and tearful, really.'"

Saturday, March 11, 2006

My worst employees

Everyone is blogging up a storm about--their worst, craziest, etc,--employers. Believe me, being the employer is no bed of roses. Here are some of the people I had to deal with:

Fred, the janitor, who used to come in to lock up the library, and ostensibly to clean. By the time we had circled the block, he was out the back door and headed to the bars on Main Street. Fred was subtle; he would leave a rag in a conspicuous place so we would know he had dusted. Fred also had a proprietary attitude toward the trash--he didn't like it if you put anything sizable in the trash can. The staff would hardly ever put anything bigger than a staple in the trash can, so as not to incur the wrath of Fred. When it snowed, Fred was nowhere to be found, neither was our snowblower. Fred was out cleaning other people's walks with our snowblower. For extra money. We had to wait our turn. He was a civil servant, so I couldn't get rid of him. But I could eliminate his job and hire a cleaning service.

Maureen, who used to come in at eight, sign in, and to have her coffee with the other staff, who came in at eight but signed in at nine. She would then skip her lunch and breaks and leave at three o'clock, just when the schoolkids came in and the library was busy. When I called Maureen in to my office to ask why she had not done something, she informed me that I couldn't just tell her what to do; I had to earn her loyalty. Maureen earned her library degree on our dime. She set her schedule to conform with her classes and did homework at her desk. If by any chance she had to get up to help someone, she heaved an exasperated sigh and cast her eyes heavenward. What happened to her? Someone else hired her.

Kris, who came from some persecuted ethnic group like Latka Gravis. The trouble was partly because she used Latka Gravatian at home and hung out with fellow Gravatians, so her English was a little rusty when she did her job, which was reference librarian, for God's sake. K would work if I held a gun to her head, but if I put the gun down she would stop. She sat at her desk reading romance novels and telling anyone who asked her anything that we didn't have it in the library. As awful as she was, she was a warm body and when she took an impromptu vacation I had to take her Saturday!. She finally decided to retire.

Then there was Eddie, the head of circulation who never got to work on time and used to disappear. The children's librarian got the fright of her life when she entered the auditorium and found Eddie sleeping on one of the tables. Eddie was still provisional, so I fired him. It is never fun to fire anyone, but it wasn't too hard in Eddie's case.

These people were at different libraries at different times in my checkered career. Most of the people I worked with were sweethearts who worked hard and were devoted to the patrons and the library. I thanked my lucky stars for them. But, unfortunately, 80 percent of your time is devoted to the problem workers and only 20 percent to everything else.

Swedish sensitivity at work

The Al Jauhara Network: Live from Infidelphia!: Swedish Cops are Suffering from Stockholm Syndrome

The good news--someone stands up for free speech--

The bad news--it's not the US government, but Puerto Rico:

While Cuba played the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, a spectator in the stands raised a sign saying: "Down with Fidel," sparking an international incident that escalated Friday with the velocity of a major league fastball.

The image of the man holding the sign behind home plate was beamed live Thursday night to millions of TV viewers _ including those in Cuba. The top Cuban official at the game at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan rushed to confront the man....

Much to the shock of the Cuban:

Puerto Rican police quickly intervened and took the Cuban official - Angel Iglesias, vice president of Cuba's National Institute of Sports - to a nearby police station, where they lectured him about free speech.

"We explained to him that here the constitutional right to free expression exists and that it is not a crime," police Col. Adalberto Mercado was quoted as saying in El Nuevo Dia, a San Juan daily.

Iglesias must have thought he was still in Cuba.

From Breitbart/ap.

Too bad the federal government is too busy snuggling up to the religion of peace to stand up for the right of free speech.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Some cosmic questions

Johnny Virgil poses some tough questions. Among them:

Why do old people drive so slow? You'd think they'd be in more of a hurry to get everywhere since they don't have much time left.

In my opinion, those old guys with the hats were once young speed demons who ran up lots of speeding tickets. They drive slow now because they are aiming for a lifetime average of 55 mph.

The good news about army deserters...

dressed up as bad news:

If you read USA Today's front page story entitled "8,000 desert during Iraq war," make sure you read the much smaller subtitle of "But overall desertions have fallen since 9/11" and the end of the article which discloses these interesting facts:

(1) In fiscal year 2001 (which ended September 30, 2001), there were 7,978 desertions from the Army, Navy and Air Force. In fiscal 2005 (ending September 30, 2005) there were 3,456. I'm no math wiz, but that's a 50% drop in desertions since the September 11 attacks.

(2) Fiscal 2004 and Fiscal 2005 saw a total of about 8,000 desertions (the 8,000 in the title of the article). Again, I'm no math wiz, but it seems that this 2 year total was essentially the same as the number of deserters in 2001.

(3) The overall desertion rate is 0.24% of the 1.4 million U.S. forces. I'm sure Wal-Mart, General Motors and pretty much ever other large American company has more than 0.24% of their workforce leave one day never to return.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Men love leather

To the Pattersons: (a golden oldie from my archives

I hope you read this. Your phone number must be very similar to ours, because we have been receiving your calls for quite a while. When I am home, I can set them straight, but sometimes my voicemail kicks in. SO, in case you are a blog aficionado, I have some messages for you:

1. Your contractor called with the estimate you requested for the addition to your home;
2. Eleanor (Ruth's sister) says she will be there Saturday night, thanks you for inviting her, and reminds you she is Ruth's sister;
3. Your glasses are ready;
4. Your prescription is ready;
5. It's time for your six-months dental check-up;
6. Your Aunt Mary is upset that you never return her calls. She's left three messages and is very angry--she can easily change her will, you know;
7. You need a new phone number.

The world's daintiest meal

Many years ago, we were invited to dinner by a young couple. He was a graduate student, as was my husband, so we didn't expect much. And we didn't get much, but it was oh so elegant.

For the four of us, our hostess provided a four-egg souffle, accompanied by an itty-bitty green salad and one dinner roll each. Dessert consisted of a half canned pear each, tastefully garnished by four dried cranberries.

After the feast, the male half of the conspiracy trundled out a tea cart laden with a stupefying collection of liqueurs: they had more flavors than Life Savers. I had a banana one and my husband had, I don't know, eye of newt? We gulped these down, pleaded exhaustion, thanked our hosts, and got the hell out of there.

On the way to the subway we passed a Wolfie's restaurant. For those who don't know, Wolfie's served the kind of food that has killed more Jews than Hitler. In a state of hunger-induced trance, we entered, and were restored to sanity by hot pastrami sandwiches and beer.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Congress panders to ignorance and prejudice

From the Telegraph, the hypocrisy and general know-nothingness of our elected representatives:

Both Democrats and Republicans are seeking to prevent Dubai Ports World from taking control of container terminals in New York, Newark, New Orleans, Baltimore, Miami and Philadelphia. The state-owned operator would assume leases previously held by Britain's P&O, which it has bought for £3.9 billion.

The case against the Dubai company is that it is part of the Muslim world, the chief source of global terror. This crude piece of chauvinism fails to distinguish between a hostile Islamic state, such as Iran, and one that is a staunch ally of Washington in a strategically crucial region.

Through tourism, transport and business, Dubai is preparing for the day when its oil runs out. Such foresight should be welcomed, not penalised. To block DP World from inheriting P&O assets in the six ports would be highly damaging to America's reputation in a region where it needs all the friends it can get.

Such strategic considerations cut little ice with the likes of Republican House Appropriations chairman Jerry Lewis and Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton, both of whom are seeking re-election in November.

The country's best interests matter little to these cynical, totally unserious politicians.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Bears loved Mr Treadwell...

so much they ate him.

Treadwell was a self declared “gentle warrior” protecting the bears from poaching. He got his hands on the money to continue his self promotion through fundraisers and campaigns where he told the celebrities and other contributors he was certain the bears would be killed by poachers without his protection. ...
Alaskan wildlife expert Tom Smith (a biologist at the Alaska Science Center) says that sporadic poaching in the wildlife preserves isn’t much of a problem and doesn’t pose a credible threat to Alaska’s population of 35,000 brown bears. As a matter of fact, the bears aren’t listed as an endangered species in Alaska. Most of the bears killed by humans in the wildlife parks of Alaska are killed by park rangers and other officials for being too confrontational or familiar with humans. According to the park service, bears become this way when they overcome their natural fear of humans because of too much human contact. In other words, people feed or interact with the bears, therefore the bears look at people as not a threat or a source of food, therefore the bears seek out dangerous human contact and the rangers have to shoot them. So, by singing to bears, reading them stories, giving them names (like Squiggle, Czar, Buttercup and Mr. Chocolate) and “playing” with them, this self proclaimed bear “protector” could have easily been the reason for bears getting shot by rangers. The only thing this guy was a protector of was his own ego and desire for fame. Chuck Bartlebaugh, Missoula, Montana resident and director of the national safety campaign, Be Bear Aware, told the Anchorage, Alaska newspaper that he was deeply concerned about the example Treadwell was demonstrating: "We have a trail of dead people and dead bears because of this trend that says, 'Let's show it's not dangerous.’” Tim Smith agreed with the statement, saying "Bears are not people, or even remotely like people, bears are bears, and the sooner we treat them as bears instead of humans in a bear suit it will be less dangerous for both the bears and the people." On camera, Treadwell dismissed the dangerous nature of the bears with quips like “…they won’t eat me…they think I’m another bear… they know I’m their protector and they love me…” ....
Regarding the whole getting eat up by a bear thing, that had to suck. ...

My final thoughts on the subject are this: the guy was seeking fame and he achieved it at a very high price. His hubris is to be admonished, not glorified. Some of his defenders claim that getting ate up by the bears was the “…culmination of his life’s work.” Biologist Tom Smith asks "If you consider yourself a friend to bears, and want to project a positive image about them, how is getting two bears and yourself and your girlfriend killed a culmination of your life's work?” I can’t think of anything that expresses my sentiments more accurately.


Doctor wanted, psychic preferred

Mr. Charm employs the strong, silent approach to doctors. He presents the body for inspection, and the doctor is supposed to intuit what, if anything, is wrong with him. If the MD really knows his stuff, he should be able to figure out what is wrong.

Of course, he never goes to the doctor if he actually feels bad. Every winter he has what he refers to as "this cold," as in "I wish this cold would go away," or, "Boy, am I tired of this cold." "This cold," as opposed to your common or garden variety of sniffles, is the Godzilla of respiratory infections. It lasts 8-10 weeks.

He obviously has allergies; he coughs and sneezes frequently, and often scores a Zyrtec from my stash. I asked him why he doesn't ask the doctor to give him Zyrtec; he says there is nothing wrong with him. Anyway, he can use my Zyrtec.

Also, he frequently complains (to me) that he aches all over. When I ask if he ever mentioned this to the doctor, he of course says no. He has diagnosed himself with a hopeless case of arthritis, totally irreversible and unresponsive to medical intervention. Why bother the doctor when the case is hopeless?

He once had a problem with his ear, and went to an ear doctor, who cleaned out his ears and told him he needed a hearing aid. Needless to say, he gave that doctor a wide berth from then on. The man was obviously a trouble-maker in league with the hearing aid-industrial complex and doing their evil bidding.

It was the same story when he started to need reading glasses; there was nothing wrong with his eyes, it was just too dark in the restaurant to read the menu. Any restaurant, any menu. After a couple of years of this, he got reading glasses.

And so it goes.

Vicar resigns; cannot forgive her daughter's murderers

How refreshingly honest of her.

The Rev Julie Nicholson said she was having difficulty reconciling her feelings over her daughter's death with her role as a priest at St Aidan Church in the St George area of Bristol.

Jenny Nicholson, 24, who lived with her boyfriend in Reading, Berkshire, died in the explosion at Edgware Road Tube station.

Mrs Nicholson today admitted she was struggling to forgive the men who murdered her daughter - and intended to step down from her position as a parish priest.

"It's very difficult for me to stand behind an altar and celebrate the Eucharist Communion and lead people in words of peace and reconciliation and forgiveness when you feel very far from that myself," she told the BBC's Inside Out programme.

Our prayers are with her.

Condi Rice kicks butt

From Chainik hocker:

Hugo Chavez’s body was recovered from the trunk of an abandoned 1989 Crown Victoria in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, this morning. It was not immediately clear how the 51-year-old Venezuelan president died, or what he was doing in Brooklyn.

Lt. Irish McStereotype, head of the NYPD’s Brooklyn North Homicide Task Force, stated that President Chavez’s body was “riddled with buckshot”, but said that this was not the cause of death. He did say that a note was attached to the body. Sources within the Department tell us that the note read “Don’t call me ‘girl’”. “Dead Eye” Dick Cheney, Vice President of a prominent country, was being held for questioning at the 81st Precinct, but Lt. McStereotype refuse to name him as a suspect.

President Chavez had been in the news recently after a provocative speech in which he said, addressing US Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, in which he said in part “Don't mess with me Condoleezza. Don't mess with me, girl.” ...

At an unrelated briefing last night, the press questioned Secretary Rice about Vice President Cheney’s possible involvement in a homicide so soon after the “hunting accident” that left a Houston trial lawyer in the hospital. Dr. Rice responded “Cheney? That old white man couldn’t kill Chavez even if he got all his Secret Service homeboys to help. I killed that crazy Mexican myself. I even left a note. Da-yum, you reporters be stupid. Cheney? Probably have hisself a heart attack, he ever tried killin some fool Mexican.” When a reporter pointed out that Chavez had been Venezuelan, Secretary Rice began pistol-whipping him.

The press briefing broke up soon after that.

Very un-PC--but funny--read the whole thing.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Weather report

In California, 60 degree temperatures are a signal to bundle up, in a turtleneck shirt, sweater, jacket and gloves. In Delaware, 60 is considered boiling hot and the natives wear shorts and short-sleeve t-shirts.

Some of the Californians I know truly believe that there is no need for air-conditioning. Well, they admit, a few days (read three months) are over 90, but the nights are cool. These folks are spending $100,000 for a driveway, so it's not a question of money.

I love air-conditioning. We didn't have it when I was growing up in Ohio, and we used to sleep outside on a blanket, sneaking into the house in the early morning. Or else we went to the movies, which were cooled to about 60, maybe 65. Old people got hypothermia in the movies, but they didn't care. When you came out of the movies, you were immediately covered with sweat. So you tried the other remedy. You ate ice cream or drank soda or lemonade or beer. While this did not change the temperature, it tasted good and made you forget the heat. Particularly the beer, if you drank enough of it.

Get out of voice mail jail free

Everyone should add this database to their favorites. It contains tips on how to talk to a real live person. Whether you can understand him/her or not, this is a good first step.

Of course, if companies could provide proper service in the first place, none of this would be necessary.

One victory for our side.

So who's in jail?

Turns out it's the Democrats:

Of course, the Democrats would seem to be the perfect party to run on a "culture of corruption" campaign... given their intimate experience with the subject over the last 30 years. Since 1976, 13 members of Congress have been convicted in criminal court and sent to prison.

Of the 13... 11 are Democrats.

Or maybe the Republicans, plutocrats that they are, could just afford to hire better lawyers. Or bribe more judges. Or both.

Naahh--when it comes to bribing judges (or anyone else) the Dems are second to none.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Art appreciation

By trouserquand, whose threatened desertion of the blogosphere was canceled, thank heaven!

Animal testing is evil! evil!

If you don't believe me, read this:

They take eye shadow and shove it into the eyes of some unsuspecting rabbit. This burns and irritates the rabbit's eyes. I know this for a fact because the other day I was shampooing and I looked up and a *massive* blob of shampoo went into my eye.... Holy f'ing shit it hurt.

The pain is why I am so pissed off about animal testing. I mean what the fuck - was my rabbit asleep at the switch? What the hell is your point of you don't thump your lucky foot and let them know the Pantene fucking burns? God dammit you are useless to me rabbit.

I can't get behind this anti-animal testing stuff. Who should they test the stuff on? New born babies? Harvard College faculty (hey, not a bad idea!)? Prisoners at Abu Ghraib?

I actually participated in cosmetic testing when I lived in NJ. Every week for 6-8 weeks you would go to the lab, where they would dab you with chemicals and cover them with patches. One or two of the substances hurt, and they took it off. After the testing period was over, they washed the affected area and gave you money, which was nice, and tax-free.

So, speaking as a human guinea pig, it wasn't so bad. Or maybe the poor rabbit got all the chemicals which failed the New Jersey inhabitant test and I only got all the good stuff.

Friday, March 03, 2006

If United Airlines employees had to live on tips...

they would all be destitute. On my trip to California, the seat they had me booked for was non-existent. They managed to shoehorn me in, between an Indian gentleman who kept talking to me in accents I couldn't understand, and a 350-lb guy who had lifted the armrest between us so I would have 80 percent of my space and he would have 20. I desperately needed 100 percent. I'm short, but I do have arms and legs which need to be accommodated.

The Overgrown One also exuded a smell, rather like yeast, but distasteful after about half an hour. What he lacked in physical appeal he made up for in lack of charm. Every time the Indian gent or I had to go to the bathroom, he made a tremendous to-do about having to get up--not saying anything, but passive aggression to the max, in looks and sighs. Rinse and repeat for 6 fun-filled hours.

On the way back, I was supposed to have an aisle seat, and asked the flight attendant about it. She told me to sit down and she would look for one after we were in the air. Needless to say, she must have parachuted out because I never saw her again, but I ruthlessly grabbed an aisle seat anyway. I noticed that the seats up front had more legroom than those in the back. This was my first experience ever of sitting near the front. Obviously the airline has assigned me to watch the motors and wings to see that the first doesn't catch fire and the second doesn't fall off. I've always done this very well in the past, but they managed to fly the plane without my help this time.

There was of course the inevitable circling of the airport--piece of cake. But then we landed, they turned off the air-conditioning, and we had to wait while they pulled the jetway up to the plane. I now know how dogs must feel when they are left in a parked car.

The Philadelphia airport believes in aerobic exercise so you get to walk about 1 1/2
miles to the baggage claim with the heat turned up to a nice cozy 88 degrees.

Anyway, I'm back.