Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Headline of the week

Airport screeners to focus on explosives
That seems like a pretty good idea to me, after giving it some thought. Why didn't I think of this first?

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No more horseplay for this guy

James Michael Tait, 54, of Enumclaw, WA, was accused of entering a barn without the owner's permission. Tait admitted to officers that he entered a neighboring barn last July with friend Kenneth Pinyan to have sex with a horse, charging papers said. Tait was videotaping the episode when Pinyan suffered internal injuries that led to his death.

Tait pleaded guilty Tuesday and was given a one-year suspended sentence, a $300 fine, and ordered to perform eight hours of community service and have no contact with the neighbors ( I assume this includes the neighbors' horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, burros and zebras).

The prosecutor's office said no animal cruelty charges were filed because there was no evidence of injury to the horses.


More on British/American Camouflage

Michele Malkin comes up with a doozy on the MoveOn fake American soldiers lonely Thanksgiving Day dinner fraud. She shows side-by-side photos (how does she do that?) of MoveOn faking their own fakes. Does a fake of a fake, that is to say, a faked fake, make it all genuine? I don't think so. In an apparent attempt to salvage their discredited anti-war advertisement, MoveOn added pants to the British soldier originally photographed dining in his shorts. So now there are two versions of the photo, one in the filmed advertisement (British hairy legs showing) and another on MoveOn's website (British hairy legs covered).

What makes this such a lame attempt to fool all of the people all of the time is that it appears that MoveOn photoshopped into the original photo British camouflage fatigues on the soldier. You would think that if they were going to cheat that they would go all the way and re-paint the camouflage on all the British soldiers in the photo with American camouflage colors and patterns and then blame it all on bad lighting or solar flares or global warming or penguins marching backwards or something like that.

The MoveOn people are reading too much Mary Mapes.

Others weighing in on this:
Generation Why
Say Anything
Kokonut Pundits
The Subjective Scribe
Suitably Flip
GOP and the City
GOP and College
Basil's Blog

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

FYI for

UPDATED! has a new anti-war ad out which was spotted by a U.S. Army Captain home on leave from his 3rd deployment to Iraq. He sent an email to Opinion Journal concerning his opinion about the ad as well as a, um, technical critique. The ad features a scene in which a group of American soldiers are partaking of a meager Thanksgiving Day meal because they can't be home for the holidays. Only trouble is, according to the Captain, they're not Americans - they're British soldiers. He points out that shorts are not regular Army issue and the fatigues being worn by the soldiers pictured are British, not American. The good Captain says,
These are not your normal everyday U.S. soldiers though. If you look at the frame they are actually British soldiers. One is in shorts (we don't have shorts as a normal combat uniform) and the others are all clearly wearing British pattern fatigues.

So, my point is that these [turkeys] pretend to argue on my behalf and bash the president in the name of my crying wife, and they don't even know what an American soldier looks like!
Here is the picture from the MoveOn ad. Take a good look at the camo color and pattern on the fatigues. Really check out the four standing in the shadow of the tent. It's a little difficult to tell the color on the two standing in the sun but you can still see the camo pattern on their fatigues.

Now, take a look at this photo of honest to goodness apple pie-loving American soldiers (Tommys love peas porridge, or something).

See the difference? Here, I'll help you out a little more with a photo of British and American soldiers side-by-side.That's a Tommy on the left - no, your other left - and two GI's on the right. Now, compare the camouflage of the Tommy with the camouflage being worn in the MoveOn photo by the supposed American soldiers eating their lonely Thanksgiving meal in far away Iraq. Looks about the same, right? Now compare the camouflage being worn by the American soldiers in both photos with the soldier's camouflage in the MoveOn photo. Looks a lot different, doesn't it?

How much do the MoveOn people pay for these adds? Too much at any price, I'd say.

UPDATE: See next post for latest shocking developments as an ace blogger catches MoveOn's sorry and fraudulent attempt to salvage this fiasco.

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Women's fat butts causing problems at

This is amusing to watch. Someone at posted a report from UPI and about a recent medical meeting in Chicago. At the meeting it was revealed by a researcher from Dublin, Ireland that some women may not be getting their money's worth from injections in their butt-tocks. The report states that 68 percent of intramuscular injections do not reach the muscles of the butt-tock because the fatty tissue overlying the muscles exceeds the length of the needles used for the injections. In other words, the needles used for injections into women's butt-tocks are too short to make it through their fat asses into the muscle fiber. Har, Har, Har!

Then, the LComStaff staff jerked the posting (I don't know the time nor the LDotter who posted it because it was gone - POOF! - before I could conduct any forensics) and posted their own warning to LDotters:
NOTICE TO REGISTERED LDOTTERS, by LComStaff Posted By: LComStaff - 11/28/2005 5:03:07 PM

Those who post articles knowing articles have a short shelf life make work for the staff and flaunt the rules of this site they agreed to uphold. If it continues their privileges will be rescinded.
Some commenters didn't understand what all the fuss was about because they hadn't seen the objectionable post prior to its being yanked. The LComStaff staff clarified the matter:
Reply 5 - Posted by: LComStaff, 11/28/2005 5:35:56 PM
To clarify: The most recent example was a story about longer needles being needed to inject fat buttocks. You get the point.
You get the point . . . needle point . . . Har, Har, Har!

Then, an LDotter named MizMac posted the fat butt report again at 7:28:30 PM. Har, Har, Har!


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Monkey Business

Looking for that Christmas, er . . . holiday, er . . . whatever gift for someone who has everything except your respect? Try Monkey Gifts! They've got monkey jewelry, monkey masks, monkey statues, monkey figurines, monkey dolls, monkey stuffed animals (not real stuffed monkeys, I would presume), monkey keychains and monkey everything. Well, not quite monkey everything. I didn't see a Monkey Rolls Royce nor a Monkey F-16 jet fighter but they've got almost everything else monkey.

This is my favorite. It is advertised as, "A plastic Monkey Boomerang that measures 9" across. It won't come back as a boomerang but it sails a long distance 50 - 60 feet twirling as it flies." I don't mean to be picky and I'm not monkeying around, but if it won't come back how can they call it a boomerang? It should be a Monkey Throwin' Thang. But, a real steal at $3.00 USD.

Just sayin'.


Profiling "them" WILL make "us" safer

Writing in the Chicago Tribune, a Dawn Turner Trice says that the profiling of Arab men trying to get into the United States is "downright dangerous". Her article is a bit disjointed. She starts out by accusing U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) of advocating racial profiling of Arab males. Then says that he actually said that the immigration of males from terrorist-producing countries should be limited. That's a big difference. What exactly is Rep. Kirk advocating?
"I'm OK with discrimination against young Arab males from terrorist-producing states. I'm OK with that."
"I think that when we look at the threat that's out there, young men, between, say, the ages of 18 and 25 from a couple of countries, I believe a certain amount of intense scrutiny should be placed on them," the Highland Park congressman was quoted as saying. "I'm not threatened by people from China. I'm not even threatened by people from Mexico. I just know where the threat is from. It's from a unique place, and I think it's OK to recognize that.''
Ms. Trice asks, "If you say it's OK to discriminate against some Muslims trying to enter the country, then how long before American Muslims would see their rights whittled away?" Well, it is my understanding that the United States places limits on the immigration of people from every country on this earth. Has the immigration limit on Italians caused Italian-American rights to be whittled away? Has the immigration limit on Canadians wishing to move to this country caused Canadian-American rights to be whittled away? Has the immigration limit on Ukrainians caused Ukrainian-American rights to be whittled away? Has the immigration limit on Nigerians caused Nigerian-American rights to be whittled away? Hell, they've got more rights than I do (preferential treatment in consideration for university slots, job openings, small business loans, etc.). Especially if they are of a minority race and more especially if they are female. Ms. Dawn Turner Trice qualifies twice.

So, according to Ms. Trice, Congressman Kirk's statement "profiling--attempting to sort out criminals and non-criminals based on racial, ethnic or age considerations--seems to be a perfectly reasonable and efficient tool in 'the war on terror'" (her scare quotes, not mine). I suppose that the use of the scare quotes around "war on terror" indicate her dislike or disbelief of that term.

Ms. Trice, no doubt a highly seasoned and experienced anti-terrorism specialist, goes on to list a group of murderers which she says indicates that terrorists are as likely to be WASP's as Arab males. She notes Eric Rudolph, WASP (killed 2 or 3 people and wounded a couple of dozen, I think), John Allen Muhammad (a converted Muslim African-American - who converted him, a Catholic Imam named Paddy O'Shea?), Timothy McVeigh (killed 168 people), a University of Oklahoma student, WASP, who blew himself up (killed one - himself) and another University of Oklahoma student, WASP, caught with a pipe bomb (kilt, uh, nobody). She failed to mention William H. Bonney (killed 9), Alexander Franklin James (killed 150+), John Wesley Hardin (killed 30+), Charles Joseph Whitman (killed 17). WASPs all. Ms. Trice also failed to mention these fine folks.

Khalid Almihdhar - Arab male
Majed Moqed - Arab male
Nawaf Alhazmi - Arab male
Salem Alhazmi - Arab male
Hani Hanjour - Arab male
These four flew American Airlines flight 77 into the Pentagon - killed 289

Satam M.A. Al Suqami- Arab male
Waleed M. Alshehri - Arab male
Wail M. Alshehri - Arab male
Mohamed Atta - Arab male
Abdulaziz Alomari - Arab male
These five flew American Airlines flight 11 into the North Tower, World Trade Center - killed 2860

Marwan Al-Shehhi - Arab male
Fayez Rashid Ahmed Hassan Al Qadi Banihammad - Arab male
Ahmed Alghamdi - Arab male
Hamza Alghamdi - Arab male
Mohand Alshehri - Arab male
These five flew United Airlines flight 175 into the South Tower, World Trade Center

Saeed Alghamdi - Arab male
Ahmed Ibrahim A. Al Haznawi - Arab male
Ahmed Alnami - Arab male
Ziad Samir Jarrah
These four flew United Airlines flight 93 into the ground in a field in Pennsylvania after being attacked by the passengers - killed 45.

Zacarias Moussaoui - Arab male - missed his flight on 9/11
Osama bin Laden - Arab male - financed and helped plan 9/11

Abu Ali al-Harithi - Arab male
Ahmed Hijazi - Arab male
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri - Arab male
Fahd al-Qusaa - Arab male
Maamoun Msouh - Arab male
Ibrahim al-Thawr - Arab male
Abdullah al-Misawa - Arab male
These eight plotted and/or carried out the USS Cole bombing - killed 17

Ramzi Yousef - Arab male
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed - Arab male
Mohammed Jamal Khalifa - Arab male
El Sayyid Nosair - Arab male
Sheikh Abdel Rahman - Arab male
Mahmud Abouhalima - Arab male
Abdul Rahman Yasin - Arab male
Mohammad Salameh - Arab male
Eyad Ismoil - Arab male
Nidal Ayyad - Arab male
Ahmad Mohammad Ajaj - Arab male
All convicted of conspiracy and/or murder for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing - 6 killed, 1040 wounded

And there are lots more - the Buffalo Six, The Oregon Seven, Ocean's 11 (just kidding about that last one). The point here is that law enforcement, when considering preventive measures, must take a look at the odds, or probabilities. Who are the most probable people to make a terrorist strike against us? Grandma with her darning needles or an Arab male driving south across the Canadian border with a trunkful of C4? Billy and Sally with backbacks stuffed with clean underwear for a week at summer camp or an Arab male flying in from Saudi Arabia with his suitcase stuffed with bomb-making recipes and a Koran? And as far as immigration goes, should we put just slightly more stringent restrictions on Yemenis than Australians? I shouldn't think that it would require a lot of brain power to determine the more prudent course here.

Ms. Trice then proceeds to make this silly statement, "All racial profiling does is gives us a false sense of security." That's the same as saying that the neighborhood firehouse is useless because it gives us a false sense of security. Buildings still burn down, don't they and sometimes with people still inside? The city ambulance services with their trained paramedics provide us with a false sense of security because people still drop dead from heart attacks. The town sheriff provides us with a false sense of security because people still rob and rape and murder. Seat belts and airbags give us a false sense of security because people still die in car crashes. Walk/Don't Walk signals give us a false sense of security because folks still walk out in front of cars and get splattered. I could go on but you get the point.

Will we ever be completely safe from terror attacks? Of course not. Are the French? The Italians? The Spanish? The Russians? The British? The Saudis (the innocent ones, that is)? No one is completely safe or secure. But eliminating more stringent measures that could be taken against the most likely perpetrators of a future attack is like eliminating the FAA because, heck, people still are going to die in plane crashes.

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All that glitters isn't gold.

British rocker Gary Glitter, under arrest in Viet Nam for having sex with 12 year-old girls, tells a reporter that it was all an innocent mistake. Glitter, once charged in Britain for sex offenses against underaged girls, said he went to Viet Nam for "tourism investment opportunities". What? Does that mean attractions like The Ho Chi Minh Trail Ride or General Giap's Grotto or John McCain's POW Wow Restaurant or The Dien Bien Phooey Resort or maybe a real Hilton in Hanoi? I dunno.

As far as the charges are concerned, Glitter has an innocent explanation. He says that he was merely teaching English to a group of girls who told him they were all at least 20 years-old. I can't remember the last time I saw a 12 year-old girl who could pass for 20, can you? I don't believe such a person exists, whether she be Vietnamese or Talibanese or Los Angelese. It's enough to give English teachers all a bad name.

It would be hilarious if it wasn't so sick.

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Sunday, November 27, 2005

.0000004% of population hear Sheehan's anti-war speech

About 100 people, or .0000004% of the population of the United States of America, attended an anti-war rally near the Bush ranch and heard a speech by Cindy Sheehan. I could do better if I posted a classified ad in the Oaxaca newspapers, in English, announcing that I would drop my pants in the middle of the central square tomorrow at high noon. Hell, there would be a hundred cops there, alone, just to make the arrest as well as a hundred reporters and photographers to report on the event. Add in a thousand or so curious onlookers and I would make Cindy Sheehan look like the piker she truly is.

Dare me to do it.

UPDATE: There is still time, however, to get one of the few remaining tickets to Cindy's book signing. Hurry because, as you can clearly see, there are only a few choice seats remaining.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Sex Ed teacher shows porn clip to 8th graders

An 8th grade sex education teacher in Denmark has been reported to police for showing a 10 minute clip from a porn film depicting oral sex. Hmmm.

She was reported to the police by parents because the school administrators didn't think it was that big of a deal. In fact, she was called on the carpet and took a licking from the school's principal for possibly infringing on the copyright of the film's maker. This could have resulted in a copyright infringement lawsuit against the school that could have sucked up funds needed elsewhere. The issue is eating away at the school's credibility with parents and could result in the district being swallowed by another, larger district which straddles the district in question.

Students say that in her classes covering other subjects she continually mentions sex and parents maintain she cannot hold her tongue. For example, she would hold up a picture and ask the students, "What's
wong . . . (giggle) wrong with this picture?" In mathmatics classes, many of the solutions to exercizes seem to always be "X = 69." And in nature classes she frequently will direct the students' attention to a photo of a wildebeast and ask, "Now, that's a well hung gnu, no?" The teacher has been gently eased out of sex ed classes by the school's adminitrators but parents want her ejac . . . (giggle) ejected from the school completely.

Her homework assignments must have all been group efforts and highly interesting to the students.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

Boston angers Nova Scotia

The Boston city government has renamed its Christmas tree the "Holiday" tree. Many are up in arms about this latest tribute to political correctness run amok, from Jerry Falwell to Boston's mayor himself, Thomas Menino, who said he would keep calling the Nova Scotia spruce a "Christmas tree" regardless of what it said on the city's official Web site.
"I grew up with a Christmas tree, I'm going to stay with a Christmas tree," Menino told reporters on Thursday.
The Nova Scotia farmer who cut down the 48 foot tree and donated it on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia angrily said he would not have donated the tree if he had known of the name change.
"I'd have cut it down and put it through the chipper," Donnie Hatt told a Canadian newspaper. "If they decide it should be a holiday tree, I'll tell them to send it back. If it was a holiday tree, you might as well put it up at Easter."
And why did Donnie Hatt donate the tree on behalf of Nova Scotia and why are the people of Nova Scotia so incensed over the renaming of Boston's Christmas tree? Nova Scotia donates the Boston Christmas tree each year as a tribute to the city and the people of Massachusetts for the emergency short term and long term aid given by the city and state to the people of Nova Scotia and the city of Halifax after The Explosion that almost destroyed Halifax and surrounding areas on December 5, 1917. Perhaps you'd like to know a little about this.

The explosion of a munitions ship in the Halifax harbor was the biggest man made explosion in world history and remained so until the Trinity test on July 16, 1945. Metropolitan Halifax, Nova Scotia was almost completely destroyed with some 1900 people killed by the immediate explosion and some 1000 or so dying of their injuries. This in a city of 50,000, or about 6% of the population.

Halifax in 1917 was the Atlantic coast's busiest seaport for supplying troops fighting in Europe in another of the West's several rescues of the French. Ships loading with cargo in New York, Boston, Baltimore, etc. would make their way up the coast to Halifax to join convoys bound for Europe. One such ship was the French flagged Mont-Blanc under the command of Captain Aimé Le Médec. She left New York harbor, heavily loaded with munitions, for Halifax under cover of darkness on the night of December 1. She entered Halifax harbor at about 7:30 A. M. on December 6 under the temporary command of Halifax harbor pilot Francis Mackey. She flew no warning flags as to her cargo as this would have singled her out for German attack.

Halifax Harbor had some traffic problems which were brought on by the shared responsibilities for harbor traffic control. Depending upon the vessel, it might be operating under the control of either Halifax civilian harbor masters or Canadian Royal Navy control or British Royal Navy harbor masters. This made for confusion from time to time and minor collisions between civilian and military vessels were common. The rules for entering and leaving the harbor were somewhat loose. For instance, two ships approaching each other were supposed to obey the rules of the road. That is, each ship was to stay to her right, or starboard side, and clearly signal her intentions. Mostly this worked, but sometimes not. You can see what's coming.

The Mont-Blanc was the largest bomb in terms of size and weight that has ever been assembled by humans, although they didn't realize it while they were loading the ship in New York. She carried the following cargo:
TNT 226,797 kg

Wet picric acid - 1,602,519 kg

Dry picric acid - 544,311 kg

Guncotton - 56,301 kg

Benzol - 223,188 kg

Totals - 2,653,115 kg (2,900 US tons)
By way of comparison, Fat Man, the 25 kiloton-yield bomb dropped on Nagasaki, weighed about 5 tons.

TNT - (2,4,6 trinitrotoluene) was invented in the 1870's. TNT and its cousins release less energy than gasoline. It's the speed of that release, or detonation velocity, that creates a high-pressure blast. The other explosive property of TNT is that it is chemically unstable: relatively little force or shock will cause it to explode. Amongst its advantages, however, are that it can be safely melted using steam or hot water and so poured molten into shell cases.

Benzol - Benzol was a commercial name for the fuel benzene. It is a byproduct of the coal refining process and is still used today as an additive in gasoline to increase the octane. Benzene is highly flammable. It's too expensive to produce as a pure fuel, but is used as an additive to increase the octane (burning efficiency) of gasoline. The benzol on board Mont-Blanc was intended for use by Allied military aircraft at war in France.

Guncotton is an explosive made by steeping cotton in nitric and sulfuric acid. It was invented by accident in 1845, when chemist Christian Schoenbein cleaned up a chemical spill with a cotton towel and set it by the fire to dry (BOOM!). Guncotton, or nitrocellulose (also known as trinitrocellulose and cellulose nitrate) is a mild explosive used in rockets, propellants, printing ink bases, leather finishing, and celluloid (a mixture of nitrocellulose and camphor; first used to manufacture billiard balls). Once all of the acids have been rinsed off, and the guncotton is allowed to dry completely, applying a small flame, heat, or a spark will set guncotton off, producing a flash of orange flame.
Since the guncotton flames up so quickly, I have found that the safest way to light it is with a butane lighter stick, which gives you some distance between the point of ignition and your hands. Another safe method of ignition is to heat up the end of a pair of tongs or a glass stirring rod in a Bunsen burner flame, and then touch the hot end to the guncotton. An ordinary kitchen match or a spark from a striker will also work, but I've found that I usually end up burning the hair off my fingers when I do it that way.
Picric acid (trinitrophenol) is an extremely dangerous chemical related to TNT. Transport Canada describes it as "explosive but also highly shock, heat and friction sensitive." It detonates faster, and more powerfully, than TNT. It is still used today in explosives, laboratories, and dye and fertilizer manufacturing (see Timothy McVeigh, Murrah Building, Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995).

So we've got the largest bomb ever assembled entering Halifax harbor on the morning of December 6, 1917 just as the Norwegian ship Imo was leaving the harbor. Imo had unloaded her cargo and was steaming empty towards New York to take on relief supplies for Belgium. In fact, she had huge banners hanging off her sides marked, "BELGIAN RELIEF" in an attempt to make her a less juicy target for German naval forces. Her commander, Captain Haakon From, had wanted to leave the previous day but delays in loading coal for her boilers had caused him to miss the raising of the harbor's anti-submarine netting and now he was in a hurry.

The Mont-Blanc, piloted by Mr. Mackey, entered the harbor through its entrance called The Narrows at about 4 knots, well under the speed limit of 5 knots. The Imo, on the other hand, had increased its speed to an estimated 7 knots, this estimate based upon testimony from surviving crew members. The Imo was sailing on the wrong side of the harbor, on her port side, as she had moved there to enable a previous passing vessel an easier route to its mooring site.

As the two ships approached, Mr. Mackey blew the Mont-Blanc's whistle once to signal his intention to maintain his correct course. Captain From responded with two blasts to indicate that he would not move and the Mont-Blanc must change course. The two ships exchanged whistle blasts several more times as they approached each other until it was too late. The Mont-Blanc swung frantically to port while the Imo reversed her engines. She could not swing to her port side because she was hard against the shore and would have immediately run aground. The Imo's bow crunched into the Mont-Blanc's starboard side and sparks flew. The Imo's bow missed the holds where the TNT was stored puncturing the holds holding the benzol fuel. This contributed to the horrific disaster that was to follow. Had the Imo struck the TNT holds directly, the explosion would have occurred immediately and many fewer lives would have been lost.

As it happened, however, the benzol ignited and a horrendous fire resulted. The crew of the Mont-Blanc immediately abandoned ship because they knew what was about to happen. Because they spoke French, no one could understand their warning shouts as they rowed furiously away from the stricken ship. The Mont-Blanc, no longer under power, drifted until she crashed into the Halifax docks, setting those ablaze. The Halifax fire department responded immediately with fire crews and the fire chief and assistant fire chief raced to the scene. The fires sent up huge plumes of smoke visible all around the harbor. Schoolchildren on their way to school along with thousands of onlookers headed for the scene to watch the firefighting efforts. Thousands more in their homes, offices and buildings all around the harbor gathered in front of their windows to watch. No one knew what the Mont-Blanc had on board except the escaping crew members who were unable to communicate the danger in time.

When the TNT and picric acid ignited, the explosion killed 1000 people outright. The seven story concrete and brick sugar refinery collapsed, killing all the workers inside. The explosion blew in the windows of thousands of homes, offices, schools and businesses, right into the faces and eyes of people watching the fire. Those who survived the initial explosion were then washed away by an ensuing tidal wave sent up by the force of the explosion. There was not enough glass available in all the maritime provinces to replace the windows blown out by the blast. It was months before enough glass could be manufactured and shipped to Halifax just to replace windows in those structures left standing.

Two children died in Richmond School, but 87 of their schoolmates died on their way there or at home. At Richmond Printing Company, more than thirty people died. At Hillis & Sons Foundry, 41 workers died. In Dartmouth, the Oland's brewery was left in ruins, with seven workers dead. Kaye Street Methodist Church lost 91 parishioners; Grove Presbyterian, 148; St. Mark's Anglican, about 200; and St. Joseph's, the heart of the Irish Catholic community, lost 404 members of its parish.

Twelve thousand buildings were severely damaged in the Explosion. 1630 were completely destroyed. Six thousand people were completely homeless, and the homes of many thousands more needed major repairs. A blizzard hit the next day and people had to nail up anything they could find to cover the blown out windows, including mattresses nailed up over the gaping holes to try to keep out the wind and snow.

In the ensuing relief effort, which did not officially end until 1976, the state of Massachusetts sent medical teams and tons of relief supplies to Halifax. In fact, one fond memory of many of the survivors is the "Massachusetts Store". Here people could go to recieve furniture and household items (free of charge) donated by the citzens of the state of Massachusetts. Many of these donated furniture pieces are now considered family heirlooms or sit in museums. The contribution of Massachusetts is estimated to have amounted to $750,000 USD in 1917 dollars, or more than $80,000,000 in today's money.

Forty-eight hours after the Explosion, the first medical teams and supplies arrived from the "Boston States," mainly Massachusetts. Governor Samuel W. McCall sent doctors, nurses, railroad and media people, Red Cross teams and medical supplies. The doctors and nurses relieved their exhausted local colleagues and organizers set up temporary hospitals and aid stations, in cooperation with the local authorities. Back in Boston, there were community relief drives collecting schoolchildren's pennies and high society's dollars. Music hall legend Sir Harry Lauder was among the donors at one luncheon raising over $2000. Opera fans contributed at another benefit featuring the Boston Symphony and the famous singer Dame Nellie Melba.

The Massachusetts Halifax Relief Committee, as it was called, operated in Halifax for almost two years. When the Governor of Massachusetts, Samuel McCall, visited Halifax in November 1918, he was welcomed as a hero. Dalhousie University conferred an honorary degree on him, and one of the temporary apartment complexes was named the Gov. McCall Apartments.

So, Nova Scotia has responded over the years by donating Boston's Christmas tree annualy. They just don't like it when their Christmas tree gets renamed the holiday tree. Neither do I.

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Cruise: Katie Holmes must be quiet during childbirth.

Quiet but not silent. Church Of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard ruled that followers of Scientology
must "maintain silence in the presence of birth to save both the sanity of the mother and the child and safeguard the home to which they will go".
Tom Cruise says, however,
"Like anything, you want to be as quiet as possible. There have been misinterpretations that the woman can't make any noise, and that's just not true. It's nutty.

"No, but just calm and quiet."
Excuse me, but I think that all those Scientology sumbitches are nutz, with a "z".

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Australia's glowing meat

Does your meat glow in the dark? My meat does not. I checked. Just a couple of minutes ago. However, Australian authorities are trying to quell fears about Australian's meat that does glow in the dark. They receive about two calls per month from consumers worried when they find glowing meat. That would be somewhat disconcerting to me, too.


Marry me (BANG!)

So, you've asked and begged that certain someone to join you in wedded bliss? She hems and haws, can't decide? Or maybe she initially says, "Nope." You've wooed her with flowers, gifts, an engagement ring, intimate candle light dinners, frolics on the beach? Still no luck? Looking for something different, something unique, something that will finally get her attention and change her mind about you?
Just shoot her.

Monday, November 14, 2005

New Jersey needs our help

Acting New Jersey governor Richard Codey has thrown open New Jersey's search for a new state motto to the public. Heh heh, big mistake. Mindful of the state's legacy of everything from Frank Sinatra and Bruce Springsteen to mobsters, political corruption, gambling and toxic waste dumps, some suggestions have been:
New Jersey: You Got a Problem With That?

NJ: How You Doin'?

New Jersey: Most of Our Elected Officials Have Not Been Indicted.

New Jersey: We'll Win You Over

The Ocean, The Motion, The Magic

From Ol' Blue Eyes to the Boss: Jersey Is Singing Your Song

Born to Fun

Bada Bing! Choose New Jersey

New Jersey: It Always Smells Like This (my favorite)

New Jersey: Come Glow With Us

New Jersey: You Want A ##$%##! Motto? I Got Yer ##$%##! Motto Right Here!

New Jersey: It is against the law to "frown" at a police officer

New Jersey: We know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried

New Jersey: Where 3 rights do make a left

New Jersey: You can go bowling at 1:30 A.M. (with automatic scoring)!

NJ: The the only state that can drop the "New" in its name (You know, that's right. Try "Mexico" or "York" or "Hampshire", it just won't work.)

New Jersey: That douchebag Jay Leno needs to stop with the corny NJ jokes before we send some South Jersey chick to beat his ass (a little wordy)

New Jersey: Where you can climb a mountain in the morning, swim in the ocean in the afternoon, and get robbed at gunpoint in Newark by night

New Jersey: Home of the Boardwalk cheesesteak with vinegar fries

New Jersey: Where you can see the Manhattan skyline from some part of every town

You may send your suggestion(s) to the governor's "Call to Action" website: Unfortunately, the deadline is Novemmber 14 of this very year, so time is, uh, really, really short.


Birdshot - no - bird shot.

Last year, in the northern Netherlands city of Leeuwarden, employees of television company Endemol NV set a Guinness world record by knocking over 3,992,397 dominoes. This year the employees have worked for weeks setting up 4,321,000 dominoes in an attempt to break their own record. The dominoes are set up in an auditorium where, unfortunately, the windows are left open.

The vicious flying monster you see pictured on the left, no, your other left, is a song sparrow that inadvertantly flew through one of those open windows. The attacking bird managed to knock down more than 23,000 dominoes before all of the screaming and shouting and cursing (presumably things like "Gottern Dammit!" and "Schidtt!" and "Kil der baschdart!" frightened the pictured sparrow into a corner.

The only thing that saved the record attempt from disaster was 750 strategically placed breaks in the lines of dominoes. Those breaks would have been filled in with dominoes just prior to the televised world record attempt.

The panicked employees called upon this man, one Aans Christienn Handerssohn, to do battle with the run amok song sparrow (actual size - about 5 inches in height). Warrior Handerssohn, undaunted by the ferocity of the bloodthirsty flying relative to the dinosaurs, dispatched it with a single shot from his trusty blunderbuss "Bessy" air rifle as the panting, dominoe slaying winged beast cowered in a corner.

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Service Dogs

Perhaps I just lead too sheltered a life down here but I have never heard the term "service dogs". They are dogs which, in addition to the well known "seeing eye" dogs, are permitted by law in most states as well as by federal law to accompany anyone with a disability and a medically-verified need for a service dog - anywhere and everywhere.

What brings this up is this story about a woman named Sharon Kehoe who moved from Duval, Wash. to Midland, Texas recently. Her service dog accompanies her because she is hearing impaired and also suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. She has run into a lot of trouble in Midland in trying to enter restaurants, the post office and even the DPS (Texas' state police) offices.

The report points out that the trouble is usually related to a lack of education on the part of the public as to what is and is not allowed. For instance, restaurant owners know that they may not allow an animal into their establishments unless it is accompanying a blind person. What they frequently don't know is that state and federal laws permit them, or rather require them to allow the entry of any other type of service dog.

Here's another type of service dog that would have to be allowed to accompany its owner anywhere.
Ely, a golden retriever and Labrador mix has had an easier time in Midland with his job as an assistance dog for 18-year-old Kelsey Horkey, who has spina bifida.

"He goes almost everywhere with me," explained Horkey, who said being asked to leave behind Ely would be like being asked to leave behind her wheelchair.

"And he basically does every little thing you can imagine except type on a computer. When I drop something he picks it up. He can open doors, open the refrigerator. He can close doors. He can turn off and on light switches."
Amazing. Authorities say that for someone like Sharon Kehoe whose disability is not readily apparent, it can be difficult in constantly confronting people who won't allow her service dog to accompany her. "It can be especially difficult for deaf people or the hearing impaired," Soltes said (Sheri Soltes, president and founder of Austin-based Texas Hearing and Service Dogs, an organization that trains assistance dogs). "Their disability is not apparent to somebody who is just looking at them, and they have communication burdens as well, so they can have the hardest time of anybody."
For protection under Texas law, service animals must be trained by an organization that is recognized by rehabilitative agencies, explained Soltes, who helped write the 1995 additions to the statute.
The Americans with Disabilities Act, however, doesn't have the same training requirement.
"I'm tired of being asked, 'Excuse me ma'am are you blind?' and having to say, 'No sir, it's none of your business what's wrong with me, this is my service dog,"' explained Kehoe, who said Mocha is a support animal for her post-traumatic stress disorder as well as a hearing dog.

"Mocha is a security companion, she keeps me comfortable and feeling safe. And for my hearing, well she hears for me -- the door, the microwave, the alarm clock and my general surroundings," she said.

"Right now I'm trying to figure out how to work on rattlesnakes with her, because she hasn't been around them before."
Rattlesnakes? Mark in Mexico humbly suggests a more appropriate service animal than a dog for detecting and eliminating a rattlesnake problem.

The Cape Buffalo - 1500-1800lbs. - has killed more hunters in Africa than any other animal. Should have no problem stomping a rattlesnake flat but would experience some problems in fitting into the local White Castle.

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"Don't rush to kiss a stranger on the mouth
or you will end up in a deep sleep."
Bangkok, Thailand police lieutenant colonel.
It seems that Bangkok (pronounced, ahem, bang'-cock), Thailand (pronounced, ahem, tie'-land) transvestites (pronounced, ahem, never mind) have been luring unsuspecting morons into a deep kiss-on-the-mouth and spitting strong sedatives into the mouths of the morons. Said morons then pass out - presumably from the sedatives and not from the realization that they have just kissed a Thai transvestite deeply on the mouth - and then get robbed of their stuff, like money, jewelry, credit cards, electronic devices, etc..

I'll be sure to remember this and you should too, we being your typical morons and all. On my next sexo-tourism jaunt to Bangkok I'll assiduously avoid kissing any transvestites of whatever nationality deeply or otherwise on or in or anywhere near the mouth.

Egad! II


Sunday, November 13, 2005

1100 Lawyers leave Saddam Defense Team

The Guardian is reporting that 1100 of Saddam Hussein's defense attorney's are quiting. They cited problems with constantly tripping over one another, not enough prayer rugs to go around and insufficient toilet facilities.

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Saturday, November 12, 2005

Help find these magnificent seven

Two years ago, St. Augustine, FL officials discovered 7 tombstones being used as a walkway to an abandoned house trailer. The tombstones all bore the inscriptions for deceased war veterans. St. Augustine authorities have been searching in vain for information about the 7 veterans, their remaining family members, if any, and the locations of their graves from where the tombstones were taken.

It is also conceivable that the headstones don't belong anywhere. A now defunct Jacksonville headstone company would simply stack erroneously engraved headstones outside its work area when an engraver made a typographical error during the production process. This possibility is somewhat remote, however, because all 7 headstones are complete. Even if this is the case, it would help some people feel a little better if they could get confirmation.

Here are the names as inscribed on the grave markers. Anyone with any information can contact Joseph McDermott, the chief veterans services officer in St. Johns County, at .

The inscriptions on the gravestones read:
Allen J. Brown, Army private, World War II, 1922-1993

Steve Btewton (may be a typo), Army private, World War II, 3-19-1917 - 4-14-1984

Clarence Dixon, Army corporal, World War II, 9-11-1912 - 2-11-1984

Thomas Edison Hadley Jr., Army rank unknown, World War II, 10-7-1922 - 12-30-1980

Isaac Samford Howell, private first class, branch unknown, World War II, 1907-1994

J.C. Purifoy, Army corporal, Korea, 1930-1993

James Singletary, Army rank and war unknown, 1878-1981
Note that James Singletary was 103 years old at his death. You would think that someone would remember him and the location of his grave.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ralph Nader lunges an extra yard for Terrell Owens

Ralph Nader has written a letter to the NFL in support of the worse than useless and utterly poisonous Terrell Owens. Owens was suspended for 4 games by Philadelphia Eagles management and notified that he will be cut from the team at the end of that 4 game suspension. His suspension and release from the team has been widely hailed by both sports commentators and former and current NFL players. Owens latest travesty was in publicly complaining that the Eagles didn't celebrate his 100th touchdown and that the team would be better off without quarterback Donovan McNabb. McNabb, incidentally, led the Eagles to the 2005 Super Bowl, one of only two NFL quarterbacks to manage that feat last year.

Nader's letter to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue called Owen's comments "boorish and unwarranted" but added that, "There is a great tradition in this country of respecting free speech, and the Eagles and NFL should express those values in handling even churlish speech." Well, the Eagles did handle it, I'd say. Nader went on in his letter to liken Donovan McNabb to the Corvair by calling him "unsafe at any speed". He also compared Eagles coach Andy Reid to Adolph Hitler, NFL officials to Nazi brownshirts and Nader himself to Pope Innocent I.

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Mighty Goliath did indeed existeth

Archeologists digging in a site in southern Israel thought to be the location of the Philistine city of Gath have found a pottery shard bearing the name of the Philistine hero, Goliath. They believe that this lends credence to the ancient story of Goliath's defeat at the hands of the boy shepherd, David. The story was thought by many scholars to be a myth handed down over hundreds of generations. The find means, at the least, that such a person as Goliath really existed. I would think that the inscription proves a lot more than that. Here is what the inscription said:
Mighty Goliath hath been beaned
By the wimpy joo David
Whoeth cracketh the headbone of Goliath
Liketh unto a pterodactyl egg.

Now all Philistines waileth and teareth their hair
Because the jooz will owneth us.
For mighty Goliath hath droppeth
Faster than Bill Clinton's pants . . . eth.
Loosely translated from the original Philistineth and also please note that the Philistines were not heavily into iambic pentameter (that's da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM da-DUM . . . with rhymes).

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Modern Europeans descended from Alley Oop

Researchers led by Wolfgang Haak of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany along with colleagues Joachim Burger, also from Johannes Gutenberg University and Peter Forster from the University of Cambridge in England have determined that modern Europeans are directly descended from Alley Oop, a famous stone age hunter-gatherer. They examined 25 bodies of farmers some 7500 years old and discovered that the mitochondrial DNA marker N1a was present in 25% of the bodies examined while it is present in just 0.2% of modern European DNA. This means that the thinking that modern Europeans are descended from farmers who migrated there from Boston may not be accurate.

Other experts, insisting on European Airy Fairy lineage, at least for the French, dispute the findings. "The data are new, the analysis is not compelling, and the conclusions are illogical," said anthropologist Milford H. Wolpoff of the University of Michigan. "And besides," he added, "everyone knows that Jacques Chirac is an Airy Fairy in a country filled with fu . . . er . . Airy Fairies."

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Answer to "Just wondering why . . ."

I really did know the answer to the question I posed here about English spelling and pronunciation. I'm not the first to note this. Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, did some thinking about it and also some serious research into a proposed cure. In a not-so-serious vein, he wrote in 1899 the following:
by Mark Twain

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet.

The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later.

Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all.

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants.

Bai iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli.

Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.
Hint: xrewawt = throughout. Aside: And how did Sam Clemens choose Mark Twain as his nom de plume? In his early years Clemens worked on Mississippi River paddle-wheeled steamboats. The Mississippi is a treacherous waterway in that the sandy bottom shifts constantly. A channel is here today and gone tomorrow. It is impossible to see below the surface of the river to detect sand bars which can shift overnight (that's why they call the river, along with the Missouri River, "The Big Muddy". It's muddy and you can't see into it. So, one of the jobs that Clemens held was to stand on the bow of the riverboat and drop a weighted line into the water to test its depth. Every fathom (6 feet or 1.83 meters) was marked by a knot tied in the line. Clemens had to drop the weighted line into the water and then shout back to the pilot in the wheelhouse the number of marks denoting the depth of the water under the boat. Since today's steamboats operated by the Delta Queen Steamboat Company have a draft (the amount of water required under the boat) of 9 feet, a depth of two knots, or marks, was considered safe water for passage. Less than two marks and the pilot would have to meander across the river from side to side searching for deep enough water, or sufficient draft, to allow safe passage.

Twain is related to the number 2, as in "Never the twain shall meet". So, when the line indicated two knots, or marks, of depth, Clemens would sing out, "By the mark - twain!" Hence, he adopted Mark Twain as his nom de plume. But I digress.

Britain in the 14th century was a land where many different languages were spoken. The Angles and the Saxons had pretty much combined their respective languages into one, but there were many others spoken in differing parts of a supposedly unified land. In fact, since the Norman conquest in 1066, British royalty all spoke a form of French which hardly any of their subjects could speak or understand. Richard the Lion Heart (Richard I - 3rd Crusade, Sheriff of Nottingham, etc.) couldn't understand Robin Hood and vice versa, contrary to popular thought, TV shows and movies.

The most famous writer of the day, one Geoffrey Chaucer, employed a small army of scribes, secretaries and clerks to painstakingly copy each of his writings. These scribes were the banes of his existence. We know from Chaucer's diaries and letters that the reproductions of his works by his scribes were less than faithful to his originals. Chaucer complained bitterly because he spent more time policing his scribes than he did in producing fresh work. For example, depending on from whence a particular scribe might have matriculated, Chaucer's use of the word "draft" in a work might be copied by one scribe as "draft", faithful to the original, another scribe, however, might write "drought", another might write "draught" while yet another might write "droufft". This drove Chaucer nuts because he insisted on his words being faithfully reproduced exactly as he had written them. What this also meant was that Chaucer's work could not be widely distributed throughout the realm because most people outside London couldn't understand all of it, or, in some cases, any of it.

Less than 100 years later all of that changed, and did so in quite an astounding manner. A new star entered the stage, a fellow named William Shakespeare. Shakespeare also employed scribes, but not nearly so many. Why? A German by the name of Gutenberg had invented a method for molding movable type which made the printing press (actually invented by the Chinese) an incredibly more useful tool. The problem with the Chinese printing presses and all others in use in that day was that the type faces had to be laboriously manually carved of wood. The typefaces took forever to carve and didn't last long and it was easier for a writer with the means, as Chaucer had, to hire scribes to copy his work than it was to try to use a printing press. Gutenberg's typeface molds, using lead instead of wood, changed all that. When a particular typeface wore out, you jerked it out of the press, tossed it into the melting pot and replaced it with another. Hoowah!

There was another big difference between Chaucer and Shakespeare, as important if not more so than the printing press. Attitude. Chaucer had a bad attitude, kind of like Henry Ford's "Give them any color they want so long as it's black." He wanted his work reproduced exactly as he had written it. Shakespeare, on the other hand, wanted his work read, listened to and understood by as many people as possible. So, a scribe from London was allowed to edit Will's work so that Londoners could appreciate it while a Liverpudlian scribe was likewise allowed to edit the Liverpool-bound version for his particular audience. Now, Shakespeare could use the new and efficient printing press to widely disseminate his works. This gave Will the time to become incredibly prolific, one of the most prolific writers and playwrites in history.

What this also did was start the spread of a mongrel version of a language we now call English that began to be understood by everyone in Great Britain. Shakespeare didn't care whether a spelling or pronunciation was logical, only that people could understand what he was trying to say. Slowly but surely, Shakespeare's scribes and printers began to adapt, integrate or eliminate words, spellings and pronunciations from the language. If draft was best understood in the majority of the locales, then the other versions were dropped over time and draft became draft, so to speak, so that draught could be used to mean something else entirely. Drought was used to mean something else yet again and droufft was dropped entirely because it was understood by such a small minority. Those people just had to become comfortable with draft as draft, drought as drought and draught as draught and adios to droufft. Whew! Because so many more people now had access to Shakespeare's work - and what a lot of work that was! - people began to adopt "Shakespeare's language" as their own.

Therefore, one could with good reason claim that all of the English language's problems with illogical spelling, pronunciation and word definitions could be laid at the feet of one man, William Shakespeare. One could also accurately claim that, without Shakespeare, we could all be speaking a form of French. Horrors!!!

Note: I didn't spell-check this, but after all that you have read, how could anything be misspelled? You say potato and I say pototto.

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Ace of Spades' long dark November(s)

Ace writes something here in response to Wunderkraut's plaintive question which is quite apropos. Blogger burnout, or maybe more accurately stated as blogger brownout. You have to realize that when Mark in Mexico devotes so much time and thought to a post about and then emails it to everyone in the Western hemisphere, the long twilight of blogger burnout has set in here, too. I'm reaching, struggling, scraping the bottom of an already well scraped barrel.

I'm beginning to wake up a bit, but I've had two or three really bad weeks where I just didn't want to comment on anything going on because, A) Everybody else was already the firstest with the mostest, or B) I had already spoken my piece, or C) I thought, "What's the point, it will all still be here tomorrow, unchanged in any manner whatsoever" or D) It just wasn't fun, anymore (except for Paris burning - the haughty French are easy targets).

Wunderkraut asks, in so many words, "How many times can you comment on the same current events?" Ace answers, "Trust me -- a lot of frickin' times if you want to keep this up. I don't think I've said something original since May 2004." Ace exaggerates about his supposed lack of originality but his point is well taken.

We bloggers compete against highly paid professionals with huge, well funded bully pulpits from which to bash away at us. Many of them, as Ace notes, only write a few times per week while we bloggers, in desperate attempts to keep our viewership constant or (be still my heart) growing, have to crank out multiple posts 5 or 6 or 7 days a week.

Then, someone like Helen Thomas pukes out something so totally beyond the pale that I get spurred in the ribs and can at least break out of the desultory walk into a slow canter. I would add to Ace's thoughts on the matter this small contribution.

They aren't going to stop. We can't allow ourselves to stop, either. We're on a mission from God. So to speak.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

This old gray mare is worse than she used to be.

Helen Thomas is going to have to learn the same lesson about age-induced obsolescence that Dan Rather, Woody Hayes and Joan Crawford have so painfully learned. That lesson is; Retire before making a complete ass out of yourself . . . repeatedly. She has written one of the truly great wastes of wood pulp, a mindless conifer killer. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it was written for electronic venue only. In which case it's just a sad waste of effort and time, her effort and our time. I don't think she was this bad before that house fell on her sister.

She says, for instance:
Since he took over the post of White House spokesman from Ari Fleischer on July 15, 2003, McClellan has lived up to his self-described role as an advocate for President George W. Bush.
Let me see here. Scott McClellen's job title is Press Secretary to the President of the United States, who, last I checked, was George W. Bush. That would make him one of his boss's advocates. If he failed to perform in such a manner, then the president would in all likelihood say, and rightfully so, "Yer fahrd!" Thomas refers to his job title as the White House spokesman, which is not correct. If it were correct, then he would be speaking for the White House which is, after checking closely, occupied by one George W. Bush.

She, unfortunately, continues:
It's only recently that he admits to wearing another hat -- one that is obligatory, as he put it -- that requires him "to make sure the American people are getting an accurate account of what is going on here in Washington."
If he didn't do that, she intimates, we could all rely on the NYT, WaPo, LAT, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and PBS to tell us what is really going on in Washington.
That will be the day.
She does have a bit of a point here, however. McClellen is going to be repeatedly and purposely misquoted, anyway, so it is a bit of a waste of his time.

Undaunted by the sheer irrelevancy of what she is regurgitating, she meanders onward:
But he has a lot more to answer for, especially in carrying out the administration's battle plan of pumping up the case for war with Iraq with fibs.
Meaning, I would surmise, that he has something to answer for to Helen Thomas. He has absolutely nothing to answer for to Helen Thomas, the antique geriatric gasbag. He has only to answer to his boss, who, after recently checking, is still George W. Bush. And let's name some of those "fibs". What exactly did he say that was fibberish in nature and when did he say it? Come on, HH, name one. If you're going to accuse someone 1/4 your age of telling fibs, you had best be quoting that person's fibs in an up front manner so that all can see. She's not finished yet, at least in those portions of her mind which still function clearly, after a fashion.
Day after day, McClellan spoke of Miers' "unique" qualifications for the high bench. He stopped that pitch right after her appointment was pulled.
Really? Say it ain't so. He praised the appointee as the appointee when she was the appointee and then stopped praising her as the appointee when she was no longer the appointee. Somehow the logic of that has escaped the doddering dowager. Does Ford still advertise the Model A? Does IBM still have salesmen on the stump for the Displaywriter with 264K bytes of memory? Seen anyone parading around with "I Like Ike" campaign buttons lately? Sheesh. Plowing, or perhaps stumbling forward, she says,
His technique when briefing White House reporters boils down to "the best defense is offense," and he does not hesitate to use it when the going gets tough.
I am no more sure of her meaning here than she is. Did she mean, "the best defense is a good offense", as in going on the offensive, like the United States Marines and Indianapolis Colts? Or did she mean that he gives offense, as in becoming offensive, like Helen Thomas, Howard Dean or Terrell Owens? Who knows? Who cares?
Obviously, he is on a short leash and comes into the press briefing room with one page of scribbled notes.
Define "short leash". Does that mean he operates under some set of instructions or rules, like, oh, almost everybody? Is she suggesting that he should be operating under no control whatsoever like, say, Jesse James or Mary Mapes or Mark in Mexico? And only one page of scribbled notes. Does that mean hand-written? Sloppily hand-written? Chicken tracks on paper? And what, in Helen Thomas's rapidly clouding thought processes, would be an appropriate number of pages of notes? 2 pages or 200 pages or 2000 pages or should he have the contents of the Library of Congress wheeled in on carts before every press conference? Does he wear brown shoes with gray socks and a navy blue suit? Are his nails properly trimmed? Did he brush his teeth this morning? Is he wearing clean underwear? All these likewise important facts she manages to leave out. Just to keep us guessing, I guess. But the worst insult to the hallowed White House Press Corp's queen mother/matriarch/hag without portfolio is:
McClellan always opens his briefings with a big smile, even with the White House enveloped in a bunker mentality, as it has been lately.
Maybe tomorrow he'll open his briefing with a sawed-off 12 gauge magnum auto-loader. So she doesn't like his big smile. In the words of Vlad "The Impaler" Putin, "Tufski shitski." I'm finished here. I have wasted more time and effort on this than it deserves, by a long shot.

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Hey, I didn't say it.

As the suburbs burn, airy-fairy Chirac should think back to the Iron Lady
When even the mighty Times of London begins referring to Jacques Chirac as an airy-fairy, well, I feel vindicated.


Just wondering why . . .

Why is someone from the Philippines called a Filipino? Do we call someone from France, Phrench? Is someone from Philadelphia a Filadelfian? A Filadelfino? From Agrippa, an Agripino? An Agripen? Do we visit a pharmacy to see the farmicino? English spelling is impossible to teach.


Junk Mail of the Year

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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

This frozen dead guy wasn't dead

Bob Dougherty claims he visited the Louisville Home Depot in October, 2003. While inside the store, he began to suffer from a "sour stomach". He rushed to the store's restroom where he failed to find a paper toilet seat cover. In a state of distress, he claims to have sat down on said toilet, anyway. When he attempted to stand up (I'm now assuming that it was a false alarm), he claims to have discovered that his butt-tocks and legs were frozen, or glued, as it were, to the toilet seat. As he sat there, frozen in position, so to speak, a store employee came into the restroom. Mr. Dougherty called out to the employee and told him of his predicament.

The store employee then committed a signal error. Being a veteran of the United States Navy, he reported the situation to the store's "head" clerk. What else would a former sailor do? The "head" clerk ignored it, thinking it was a joke. It was only some time later when another store employee entered the restroom that the fire department rescue team was called to remove Mr. Dougherty's butt-tocks, toilet seat as well as Mr. Dougherty still attached, from the Home Depot restroom to a the local hospital. There, Mr. Dougherty's butt-tocks, Mr. Dougherty still attached, were removed from the toilet seat in a procedure variously called a commodectomy or crapperotomy.

Obviously, this was a problem which should have been reported to the store's "tail" clerk. The unfortunate employee, likely to lose his job over the incident due to his misreporting of the sticky situation, probably hesitated for a bit, frozen by indecision, trying to determine which clerk to report to. "Heads or tails? I just can't decide," he no doubt pondered. The "tail" clerk would, of course, not have viewed the problem with such insousiance. What's good for the goose is not necessarily always good for the gander. The "tail" clerk would have taken a closer gander at the frozen, or glued, butt-tocks bruhaha.

Now, this story has been around for a couple of days. Mr. Dougherty has sued Home Depot for 3 million US dollars. The unfortunate store employee who can't tell heads from tails will lose his job, and Mr. Dougherty has appeared on Katie Kouric's Today show to discuss his stuck butt-tocks lawsuit.

Mr. Dougherty hails from Nederland, Colorado. Nederland is famous for what? You're right, Frozen Dead Guy Days. The fifth annual Frozen Dead Guy Days celebration is scheduled for March 10-12, 2006. If you are interested in Frozen Dead Guy Days, just follow the link. In a nutshell, the frozen dead guy is, or was a Norwegian who died in Norway at the age of 89 in 1989, meaning that he was born in, about, uh, 1900. His body was flown to Los Angeles where he was cryogenically frozen, a la Ted Williams' head, and he was thence moved to Nederland. He and his properly frozen butt-tocks now reside in a shed called the Tuff Shed which is decorated with the logo of radio station 103.5 The Fox, which had arranged for the shed to be donated. More or less the end of that story.

Now comes a fellow named Ron Trzepacz of New York to tell us that he is familiar with Mr. Dougherty's butt-tock problems. Mr. Trzepacz, in spite of being vowelly challenged, used to be an official in the town of Nederland. He says that Mr. Dougherty complained to him once before about his butt-tocks (Dougherty's) having become frozen, stuck, glued or otherwise adhered to a toilet seat in the town's public restroom. The guy (Dougherty) and his butt-tocks appear to have a serial problem with toilet seats and space-age adhesives.


Monday, November 07, 2005

Paris still burning, still.

I thought that I would compile a, uh, compilation of what various French officials and politicians are saying as well as what some of the various news organizations around the world are saying about the "Paris is still burning" situation. I resolved to try to refrain from any snark because the quoted passages usually say it all but found that resolution impossible to fulfill.

Patrick Hamon, a spokesman for the Paris police:
There continues to be a slight widening of these riots. In those areas where there is a strong police presence, things are leveling off.
Leveling off to what, to a normal riot mode, a sustainable property loss level? Jean-Louis Debre, president of France's parliament and mayor of Evreux, on France Info radio:
What do you want? To live in a more just, caring society? This isn't how to do that.
French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, in a column in the French daily Le Monde:
We will bring order and calm back to these regions that were too long abandoned. Everywhere in this republic, and not just the nice (nice? Nice?) neighborhoods, the French have a right to live in safety.
Yeah, the French don't live in the shitholes, foreign immigrants do.
Francois Hollande, secretary general of the opposition Socialist party, called for a parliamentary debate on the riots.
Resolved: That riots, shooting police officers, arson and destruction of private property are to be considered less than beneficial to France's already laughable international reputation. "I know, let's have a spelling contest." (Doc Holliday, Tombstone)

KavKaz (Turkey):
The civil riot movement, which started 10 days ago in the suburbs of Paris, where immigrants live, cannot be resolved.
Wow! Cannot be resolved, you mean, like, not ever? Paris, City of Fights.
The fights between the youth and the police spread to Nice, Toulouse (avoid La Trek to Toulouse), Marsilya (I think they mean Marseille), Lille and Rouen after they emerged in Paris.

Sarkozy: We are trying to be firm and avoid any provocation.
What, provoke a riot?

The violence grew once the Montfermeil mosque was bombed, and due to the fact that Sarkozy labeled the young people living in this district as tramps and vagabonds.
Aha! Burn the city down because police moved against a mosque from where they were being attacked and Sarkozy called a spade a spade. It's all Sarkozy's fault.

al Reuters:
France's main Muslim organisations feuded on Monday over a fatwa one group (Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF), a large group linked to the Muslim Brotherhood) issued against rioting after officials suggested Islamist militants might be fanning unrest across the country.

But Dalil Boubakeur, head of France's Muslim Council and rector of the moderate Grand Mosque of Paris, denounced the move on Monday as equating Islam with vandalism and blaming all Muslims for the rioting whether they were involved or not.

Boubakeur, a political ally of President Jacques Chirac, said "many Muslims are surprised and regret that, in these dramatic and reprehensible circumstances, some Muslim organisations such as the UOIF think they can invoke God's name in a call for calm. We urge strict respect for French law," he said in a pointed jab at the UOIF for not mentioning law in its fatwa.
The Scotsman:
French rioting spreads to 300 towns.

. . . a man hurt in the violence has died of his wounds - the first fatality in 11 days of unrest.
Unrest? How about; Complete anarchy in the streets? How about; French lose control of France? No, it's "unrest".
The victim was identified as 61-year-old Jean-Jacques Le Chenadec, who died after being beaten by an attacker. The man, a retired car industry worker, was trying to extinguish a fire in a rubbish bin last Friday at his housing project in the northeastern suburb of Stains when an attacker caught him by surprise and beat him into a coma, police said.
I wonder if the murderer left any stains?
Attacks were reported in 274 towns, and police made 395 arrests, Gaudin (France's national police chief, Michel Gaudin) said.
Now, look closely at those two numbers. 274 riots with 395 arrests. That's less than two arrests per riot. Aren't there any police at all in France? Or maybe just none of them are working this month.
Australia, Britain, Germany and Japan advised their citizens to exercise care in France, joining the United States, Russia and at least a half dozen other countries in warning tourists to stay away from violence-hit areas.
Remember, avoid La Trek to Toulouse.

CBC News (Canada):
Apparent copycat attacks were reported in Germany and Belgium overnight. Five cars were burned outside the main train station in Brussels, while a handful of vehicles were torched in Berlin and the western German city of Bremen. "The law must have the last word," Chirac warned, after nightly rioting spread from the immigrant-dominated suburbs of Paris to other communities over 11 days. "The republic is quite determined, by definition, to be stronger than those who want to sow violence or fear," Chirac said after a special security meeting of cabinet ministers.
"quite determined, by definition". Well, that's certainly good to know. What possible effect will "quite determined, by definition" have on 15 year-old immigrants burning cars for fun?

The Age (Australia):
After an emergency meeting with President Chirac and senior ministers on Sunday, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said there would be "a reinforcement of security forces anywhere in the country if it is necessary. We will not accept any lawless zone."
What would he consider "if it is necessary"? I know, the rioters demand Algerian independence. No, wait, that already happened.
President Chirac said that "those who want to sow violence and fear . . . will be arrested, judged and punished," adding that "certain decisions" had been taken to boost the police numbers during the crisis.
"certain decisions" have been taken. Heh. When G. W. Bush takes "certain decisions", entire governments cower or fall - see Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Pakistan.

Al Jazeera:
The growing violence is forcing France to confront long-simmering anger in its suburbs, where many Africans and their French-born children live on society's margins, struggling with high unemployment, racial discrimination and despair - fertile terrain for crime of all sorts as well as for Muslim extremists offering frustrated youths a way out.
As opposed, of course, to the high unemployment, racial discrimination and despair that they suffer in their native countries, in addition to starvation and being shot dead in their tracks on the streets.

The BBC: This is written by John Simpson, BBC World Affairs Editor, and you are not going to believe this, or, maybe you are:
There is of course a huge well of fury and resentment among the children of North African and African immigrants in the suburbs of French cities. The suburbs have been woefully ignored for 30 years.

Violence there is regular and unexceptionable. Even on a normal weekend, between 20 and 30 vehicles are regularly attacked and burned by rioters.
So this is just a slight escalation from situation - normal? Now, a shot at Chirac;
If President Jacques Chirac and the centre-right government which supports him had been in full control of France's political life, it is hard to think these long days and nights of continuous rioting would have taken place.

Mr Chirac, standing back until his ministers showed their inability to agree a clear line on the rioting, seems not to have the answers when he speaks now. His presidency is overshadowed by an inescapable sense of past corruption and weakness, and he has governed France at a time when its economy and its position in the world have both declined sharply and markedly.

If the riot police could have restored order they would have done so, but they were overstretched and outwitted, and their only response was more of the kind of violence which made the crowds even more ferocious in their turn.
I see, it's the riot police's fault. They apparently took some violent action in anticipation of country-wide riots which they anticipated would last for weeks and spread to other countries and therefore caused those riots. Uh huh. Next, a shot at Bush and Blair;
No matter that events have thoroughly borne out his criticisms of the US and British invasion of Iraq in 2003. The Muslim teenagers who briefly applauded him then have long since forgotten all that - though of course if he had supported President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair then, he would be in even greater trouble now.
Next, a shot at Charles de Gaulle, RIP, who is in no position to defend himself, last time we checked.
In 1968, too, President Charles de Gaulle and his ministers spoke sternly of the need for order to be restored immediately, and yet they did nothing.
Now, the BBC's World Affairs Editor praises the violence as the only way anything gets done in France:
France, though, tends to move forward in fits and starts, rather than organically, and these fits and starts are often associated with violence.

Spirit of revolution

Thanks to the Revolution, violence even has a kind of virtue which it simply does not possess in a country like Britain. When government becomes incapable of change, the crowds in the streets have to do the changing for themselves.

There is a great deal that has to be changed. I have seen many times for myself how the CRS, the deeply aggressive and ferocious force of riot police, have attacked Muslims and Africans in the streets in times of trouble.

Last April, Amnesty International singled out the violence and racism of the French police towards the non-white people of the suburbs for particular criticism.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister, now seems to be playing politics with the situation by appealing to the most basic and resentful attitudes of conservative France.

Much of the violence on the streets of France's cities is mindless; some of it is malign. But simply stamping it down will not work - and anyway the CRS and the civil police have tried that, and their toughness has only made things worse.

France is going to have to change towards its unwilling, often unwelcome young second-generation population, and accommodate them better.

It is not enough to demand that these people drop their sense of themselves and fit in with the way France has traditionally ordered its affairs.

But most of all there has to be change in attitudes at the top. And if Mr Chirac cannot do it, he will be fatally damaged as president.
OK, so the riots are the fault of the French government, the French police and the (white) French people. That may be so, or partially so, but that is a reason to applaud the violence and a reason not to end it?

At the end of this article which blames Chirac, Bush, Blair and de Gaulle for the burning of cars, buses, libraries, schools, businesses and police stations and the murder of retired people as well as the shootings of police officers, the editors of the venerable BBC invite comments from readers. From European readers we get the usual platitudes about the poor African Muslim immigrants (ever consider returning to Africa? No? OK, I continue.) and their desperate plight where they are either forced to assimilate or not allowed to assimilate and forced to drop their sense of themselves. But, from the USA we get a little firmer stance (except from some wuss named Christopher Nolan, Clermont, New York, who says, hilariously, "Confrontation will not work. Dialogue across the divide is what is required.")

Matthew Gray, Chicago:
I strongly disagree with the appeasement mentality that the author displays. If anything, French authorities have not acted strong enough to eliminate the violence. Say what you want about American politics, but no American city would allow such rioting without activation of the National Guard and the ultimate crushing of the vandals.
Alex, Orange,USA:
I do not agree with Mr. Simpson's view in the respect the that there is no easy solution, I believe there is and it is simply to restore order by force, meaning to bring in troops, restore order and deport any aliens taking part of this. It's hard to believe this situation has continued for more than two days and was tolerated. France needs to rid itself from these elements at any price.
John C, New York:
Mr. Simpson's article is hopelessly biased to the left. Why is Mr. Sarkozy "playing politics" by calling criminals criminals and by enforcing the law? Why do you heap criticism on the French government but give not an ounce to the malicious hooligans who have destroyed private property and now killed an innocent man? And why do you compare this to 1968? This is not a revolution, it's a mass criminal frenzy. The complacent and apologetic attitude of the European press will fan the flames of this activity much more than the hard-nosed attitude of Sarkozy.
Are we the only free people on earth who still know how how to fight for that freedom? We and Tony Blair and his soldiers, that is. Sometimes it certainly seems so.

Note: I was standing outside a hotel in Oaxaca with my kids awaiting a taxi when a tour bus pulled up and disgorged its load of French turistas, yesterday. My first thought was, "They've come to Mexico to escape the violence in their country (heh heh). Unfortunately, I don't have their Formal Articles of Surrender to back up this story. You'll just have to take my word for it.