Delenda Est Carthago

Why not delve into a twisted mind? Thoughts on the world, history, politics, entertainment, comics, and why all shall call me master!

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!


What I've been reading

Phew! Lots of stuff today. I'll probably take the day off mañana.

It's been a while since I finished a book, because I've been reading a bunch of different ones. I decided to read this next one even though it went against my "reading books in alphabetical order by author" thing. This book seemed to "in the moment" to skip.

Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins
250 pages, 2004, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

This is a disturbing book. If even half of what Perkins is saying is true (and I'm not saying he's a liar, I'm just saying that memoirs tend to make the writer look favorable - it's just the way it is), then everyone should read this book and think about what America has done to the world. These days, when the G8 is finally getting around the debt relief for the world's poorest countries, it's instructive to understand how we got to this place. Perkins tells us how.

Perkins used to be an economic hit man (EHM). Simply put, he was recruited by a multinational corporation to go into "underdeveloped" countries, offer their leaders deals to create a Western-style infrastructure that would benefit those leaders and the wealthiest families in the country (said development to be undertaken, naturally, by American companies), and then, when they have run up huge debts that they can't repay, the American companies, working hand-in-glove with the government, blackmails them into offering perks to the government and the businesses. Perkins calls this government/business marriage a corporatocracy, which is as good a word as any, and he traces how the government has been run this way for 50 years.

The insidious thing about all this, of course, is that Perkins never worked for the government, and therefore the government can always say it knew nothing about what was going on. However, it's interesting that in all the places where he went and set up these conditions, there was something vital to "national security" where it would be handy to have the local governments in a vise. The most common of these things is oil. Perkins traces the development of the EHM back to Kermit Roosevelt, Teddy's grandson, who went to Iran in 1951 and helped bring down the democratically-elected leader Mohammed Mossadegh, who had had the temerity to nationalize the petroleum industry. Instead of invading, Roosevelt (a CIA agent) went in to coerce, cajole, bribe, and create the impression that Mossadegh was inept. He went down and the United States installed the shah. Everyone knows how that turned out, right?

Perkins got into the business in the late 1960s and was instrumental in creating not only the kinds of situations for which EHMs got their reputations (in Indonesia and Ecuador, for instance), but also a new kind of situation, in Saudi Arabia. He goes over the way the Saudis didn't need American money, since they were sitting on an ocean of oil. After the OPEC oil embargo, however, the U.S. realized they needed allies within OPEC. They offered to westernize Saudi society if the Saudis dealt kindly with them in future oil negotiations. At that time, goats were cleaning the streets in Riyadh. So the Saudis got their gleaming cities in the desert, and the U.S. got cheap gasoline. Everyone wins!

Perkins also goes into detail about his experience in Panama. The leader of Panama, Omar Torrijos, became Perkins' friend in the 1970s. Perkins describes how this staunch nationalist refused to give in to the multinationals and the American government and negotiated the ceding of the canal to Panama in 1977. For this, Perkins alleges, he was assassinated in 1981. Even if Torrijos actually did die in an innocent plane crash, what the corporatocracy was trying to do to Panama led to the invasion in 1989 to take down Manuel Noriega, Torrijos' protégé and successor. Noriega, for all his faults, did not want to let American businesses run his country. George Bush (who, along with all his cronies who now run the country for their puppet, Bush II, comes off looking not so good in Perkins' account) could not allow any Latin American country to stand up to the U.S., so in went the troops. Perkins also talks about Jaime Roldós, Ecuador's president, who also stood up to the American business interests and who also died under mysterious circumstances a few months before Torrijos. In neither of these cases can anything be proved. It's just interesting that anyone who plays ball with the U.S. tends to stay alive a lot longer than those who don't.

Perkins eventually quit, but he stayed in touch with the business long enough to understand that the American government did the same thing with Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden in the 1980s, and then, when Hussein wouldn't comply, he had to be removed. It's an interesting way to look at the war we're currently involved in. As long as Hussein allowed American business interests to have their way in his country, we didn't care that he killed a bunch of his own people. Once he started looking elsewhere to develop his oil reserves, suddenly he was worse than Hitler. Perkins also talks about Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, who also defied the United States and fell from power briefly just before the Iraq war. He managed to regain control, however, and Perkins argues the Iraq war saved Venezuela from invasion. I found this part of the book interesting, because ever since I was in Venezuela in 1999 I have followed it occasionally, and getting this perspective was nice.

In the later chapters, Perkins gets a little weird, as he discusses the New Age in the New Millennium, but for the most part, his book is a chilling tale of economic destruction and how the paradigm has shifted in the last 50 years so that fewer of our people die (in wars and the like) but more of the "others" die in poverty and starvation. Perkins and his kind would go into countries, promise people Western miracles that they didn't really need, destroy their way of life and replace it with ours, and give all the money to the rich families who already controlled everything, leaving nothing in return. This is the tragedy of this sort of exploitation. We all assume that because we have an iPod and a laptop that everyone wants one. We assume that people would rather live in houses than in jungles. Why do we assume that? If the tribes in Ecuador want that, they'll come here. Perkins makes the argument that we should leave them alone.

It's a compelling book, one that is relevant to what's going on right now. I hope President Bush follows through on debt relief - it might be the one good thing he does with his presidency. We need to think about our relations with the world in a new way, because the way we've done it for the past 50 years has created as many problems as it's solved. A few days ago I got into a little bit of a snippy argument in the comments section of this post. The conservative with whom I was arguing said he shed no tears for Salvador Allende. That's perfectly fine - neither do I. The point is that he was a freely elected leader and the United States helped assassinate him because we didn't like him. It's no wonder people around the world hate us - we give them plenty of cause. Perkins' book shows how the United States has created this global empire that is built for one thing - making the rich in our country richer. I'm not going to argue that just because the rich get richer it doesn't mean there's less wealth for everyone else. I am going to argue that the way the rich get richer makes us all poorer, and betrays what this country stands for. This is an important book because it hasn't changed. Hussein is gone, but who got all the contracts to rebuild Iraq? Bechtel, Inc. and Halliburton. These two companies, along with others, have been getting these contracts from the government for decades. We're not going to win anything this way.

Okay, that's all for today. I promise! I'm going to bed.


I was strolling down the path toward the soccer field at Red Mountain Park on Tuesday night (we lost and I got pulled from goal after giving up two goals early in the second half - I was pretty pissed, as you can imagine, at myself primarily, but that's really a story for another day) and I was eavesdropping on two women. Well, actually, I wasn't eavesdropping, I was just walking past them, but I couldn't help overhearing some of their conversation. It was actually more of a monologue, because one woman was just listening. Two kids tagged along with them, and at least one of them appeared to be the woman's who was talking, as she took a maternal tone with the girl at least once. It's something to bear in mind when you read this tale.

Anyway, the woman was talking about her significant other. She mentioned that they were flying to a wedding on Thursday morning (this morning) and that he knew about this months ago, yet he still went off to play in a competitive poker tournament. Now, we have casinos around here, because it's the only thing those damned Indians are any good at - taking white men's money! - but I got the feeling this tournament was in Las Vegas or someplace out of town, because it sounded like she wasn't go to see him over the next few days. She was bitching to her friend that the tournament didn't end until Thursday night but he damned well better be on the plane Thursday morning. She said that if he was still in the tournament on Wednesday night, she supposed it would be a good thing, because it meant he was winning, but that he knew about their travel plans a long time ago and she wouldn't be happy with him if he was still playing. Then she mentioned that he was in the poker tournament because he had to recoup his losses. Now, I'm not sure if she meant his losses from another tournament, because after some mumbling between the two (and I'm not that uncouth to ask them to please speak up so I can hear them), I hear her say that he dropped three hundred (300) dollars at a "tittie bar." She then said she wouldn't have minded if he lost 300 bucks at a poker tournament, but she did mind him losing it "stuffing it in girls' g-strings." She then told her friend, "I'd give him a lap dance when he gets home if it means so much to him."

Then I walked on and missed the rest of the conversation. My first thought: this guy is a tool, and I felt bad for the woman for how he treated her. Then I thought: she's a tool too for putting up with that behavior, and they deserve each other.

That's my little slice of Americana for the day. Anyone think I have a future as the next Garrison Keillor?

A great Internet mystery

What the hell happened to Amazon? I noticed a few weeks ago that whenever someone linked to them, it came up that the page could not be displayed. Then, Krys was trying to find the "Babies R Us" web site, and it turns out they got taken over by Amazon, and when she went there, she also got that the page could not be displayed. I just checked out their home page, and it's down. Check it out yourself if you don't believe me!

Now, with all these conservative and liberal bloggers out there, you think someone would have noticed. Stop arguing about the war and Social Security and illegal immigration and the Supreme Court and get on this! What the hell is going on in America today?

What happened?

I'm kind of a stats whore, and I check my site counts about once a day, and this is interesting (well, probably to me only, which is why this will be short): a few weeks ago I was averaging a little over 100 visitors a day, which I thought was pretty cool, although to some of you, it's probably what you get in an hour. Then, suddenly, it dropped off, and I'm down to the low 70s. Did I offend someone? I don't really care all that much, because I'll probably still be here if the only person reading is the creepy guy who spends the entire day in his bathrobe and hopes I post more pictures of Julie Newmar (hi, creepy guy!), but I really wonder what it was. It was probably when I linked to the almost-naked pictures of the 17-year-old. (But she's now 18, so it's okay. Go leer!) Yeah, I'm probably going to hell for that.

Oh, and I forgot to wish Sara a Happy Birthday - she now shares it with Demon Child #2. Happy Birthday, Sara, even though you're not sure what to make of my true tales from childhood!

More later - I actually finished a book!


True Tales From My Childhood - "The Last Time I Wet The Bed"

I was once a bedwetter. I admit it. I'm proud to admit it. Okay, I'm not proud that I was a bedwetter, but I'm proud that I have the cajones to admit it. I am a member of the International Recovering Bedwetters' Association (IRBA). We meet once a month in a secret location in the Ruwenzori - you would not believe the protestors we used to get when we met in Milwaukee. I am not ashamed to say I often chair these meetings. And don't think I haven't seen some of you at the meetings. Yes, you - don't think that Bella Abzug mask fooled me. And you - you thought that Cincinnati Bengals helmet would hide you, but it didn't. But this isn't a tale about outing others. It's about how I defeated my demon.

I don't know when I started wetting the bed. It may have been the night they aired the last episode of Space 1999. Boy, I loved that show. I cried for an hour until Dad told me that spending 33 days in a upper New York state commune was real punishment, and that I should be quiet. Then, because the memory of that month was so raw to him, he had to go to his happy place in the woodshed with the hooks hanging from the ceiling for a while. I seem to recall wetting the bed that night, but ever since Uncle Mac took me on Space Mountain when I was four and paid the attendants 100000 rupees not to strap me in, I've had some gaps in my memory. It was around that time, I do know.

Those with strong bladders cannot imagine the horror when yours first erupts when it's not supposed to. It feels like death. I dared not tell my father or Uncle Mac, and my mother was still not home. (I did not know yet that around that time she was beginning her torrid affair with Giuseppe the seven-fingered clown, which would eventually end my parents' marriage. This did little, I assure you, to alleviate my bedwetting problems.) I kept quiet, changed my pajamas, stripped my bed, changed everything, and sat up all night talking to my invisible friend Claude. He advised me to keep it to myself, because children usually grow out of the problem. Ah, Claude. I was so sad when Noriega's security forces shot you. Of course, they never found the body ... but that's a story for another day.

This story, however, is not about the first time I wet the bed, but how I triumphed over my problem. I did everything I could to defeat the bedwetting monster. My father and Uncle Mac eventually discovered my secret, and they were surprisingly sympathetic. Dad only broke two of my toes, while Uncle Mac simply called me "Miranda" for the next decade. I got off easy, I reckon. I tried to remain a closet bedwetter - in one case, literally, as I spent the night in the closet, and wet it. My father had no choice, really - I spilled his Glenfiddich, after all. Some things are almost unforgivable. Of course, with Uncle Mac's frequent travels and his penchant for gossip once he got a Roy Rogers or two in him, I did not remain "in the closet" for long. Oh, the abuse from the village girls I endured!

How did I beat it? I made up my mind that I would simply wrestle with my monster, much like Jacob and the angel. Not that dramatic, of course - my "monster" was a little smaller, although I don't mean to be immodest, no less potent! However, nothing else worked. Electroshock, my father taking away my dog Wittgenstein, denying me water for three days - it didn't matter. Finally, he and Uncle Mac gave up. I, however, had been told that quitting was only for Boston Red Sox, so I decided to beat it myself.

First, I drank a lot of water. If I was going to beat it, I wanted the temptation to be greatest. So I chugged gallon after gallon. My father was in Vladivostok on business, but my Uncle Mac just shook his head as he watched me. "Miranda," he said to me at last, "don't you think you're doing yourself a disservice by drinking so much? You know, with the pee-pee geyser you have become." He thought that description was funnier than calling me "Miranda." It gained such currency around the region that when the Dalai Lama himself stopped by one day, an honor I will never forget, he called me a "pee-pee geyser." Still, he told we I would achieve total consciousness on my deathbed, so I've got that going for me.

"Uncle Mac," said I, "I'm going to beat this thing. Tonight. Just you see."

"Well, that's fine, Miranda. But remember - my bedroom is under yours. If anything soaks through you'll spend a month in the hole." The hole was actually the underground bunker Uncle Mac built for the inevitable day when a splinter group of the Baader-Meinhof gang, the Style Council, came after him for the unfortunate remarks he made on German television that one time. It was plushly furnished and had enough food and firearms to last a year. However, Uncle Mac made anyone who went in the hole watch reruns of What's Happening, and I wanted desperately to avoid that fate. I smiled at him, assured him that he would remain dry (or as dry as one could remain in the tropical heat), and went to bed.

The first hour was the worst. The gallons of water had made their way through everything and had settled in my bladder. My bladder was unhappy. It rumbled for release, but I remembered what my sensei always said: "Once you see the wall, then the wall is no longer there." Trying to figure out what the hell he meant by that always distracted me, and this time was no exception. I focused on the wall for a bit, but Bob Geldof with no eyebrows kept swimming into my field of vision. That was okay, because I could contemplate Bob Geldof with no eyebrows and ignore my bladder for a while. However, there's only so much Bob Geldof with no eyebrows one can take, and my bladder was beginning to rumble more. So I switched tactics.

I thought of my mother. I had never accepted the fact that a clown with seven fingers on each hand could make my mother happier than my father, and although that often made me wet the bed, tonight it had an opposite effect. I concentrated on my mother's last words to me: "Brussels sprouts are a Communist plot," and knew then that she was a soothsayer of epic proportions. There was a noble truth in those words, and truth that, if proclaimed to the world, would solve all the problems that we struggle with - poverty, lack of health care, wars and strife, why country music exists, why Julie Newmar never became a bigger star. I'm sorry, but look at her!

Julie Newmar

Where was I? Oh yes. Well thinking about Julie Newmar ...

More Julie Newmar

Yet More Julie Newmar

Phew. Sorry. Anyway, it made things happen down there, and as anyone can tell you, it's tough to do the bad thing when the good thing is happening! But I couldn't keep that up all night! I needed self-control, and the other thing was not conducive to that! So I thought of Uncle Mac and the things I once saw him do with razor wire, and that helped. But now I started to hallucinate. Oh, the things I saw! I was on a boat on a river, and on the banks were tangerine trees and overhead was a marmalade sky. Actually, I think someone else may have been intruding on my hallucination, so I left quickly. The hours passed slowly, as if you were playing mahjong with your grandmother. I wouldn't know about that, because my surviving grandmother (Mom's Mom) was serving time in a Turkish prison for selling knock-off Rockem Sockem Robots in Ankara (the Turks frown on that sort of thing). But that's how I imagine the time passed. The night crept toward its conclusion, and I knew I did not have much time to go. Suddenly I heard an unearthly scream that almost finished me. The scream came right up through the floorboards, and I knew instantly that it was Uncle Mac. I clenched my urethra tight and prayed that whatever had terrified him would not come and get me. The whimpering that followed allowed me to concentrate on his fear and pain, while distracting from my own. I passed over an hour listening to him toss and turn in bed, and although I never found out what had wrenched such a howl from the very depths of his soul (save the cryptic reference the next morning to "Kissinger's rim job"), it might have saved me, as my hallucinations were taking a decidedly waterfall/ocean/fountain turn.

When my eyelids started to flutter and my bladder felt like it was going to burst out of my gut and run happily around the room and I could no longer feel my toes and the Laffer Curve actually sounded like good economic policy, I looked out the window and saw the sun peaking over the jute fields on the eastern side of the plantation. I had done it! Granted, I hadn't actually slept, but I knew that would come the next night. I had mastered my bladder and my fears. No longer would I be "Miranda"! No longer would exiled spiritual leaders insult my lack of control! No longer would the village girls run up behind me and tug on my genitals until I screamed! No longer would I be the punchline of a joke in taverns from Mogadishu to Shanghai! Ah, the freedom! I threw open the shutters as the early morning sunlight bathed my naked body. I stepped onto the bed and pissed on it. It was a symbolic piss, indicating that I was leaving my former life behind and that I was born again. For 26 minutes 12 seconds I peed, feeling every ounce of water flow out of me and into the distant past. Then, desiccated, I staggered off the bed and flicked a lit match onto it. As it burned, I felt tears of joy on my cheeks. It was my sixteenth birthday.

This is what happens when I take the week off!

Last week I didn't have much time to surf around this wonderful Internet of ours. I know I missed a lot (the web moves so fast!), but I spotted a couple of things yesterday, and since I love me the stealing of pictures from others, I thought I'd share:

Walker talks about lurkers. Funny stuff, and he comes up with this picture somewhere:

Trust me, it all makes sense when you read the post! Posted by Hello

Meanwhile, here's an interesting proposal for cemeteries:

Show how the people died on the tombstone. Wouldn't you like to know the story behind this? Posted by Hello

Finally, we have the picture on the front page of the site, which appears to exist only to show this picture. Seriously. There's nothing else there! Posted by Hello

See what I miss? New (and not-so-new) children - taking up all my time! How dare they!


Here's a meme I'm happy to do!

Will Pfeifer came up with his own meme. Check it out to read the particulars, but let's just say that I'd like to know Tom Cruise's answers to these questions!

1. Have you ever enslaved a population? Only briefly, as an experiment. It worked well.
2. Have you ever debased a nation's currency? I've tried, but the bolivar is too strong!
3. Have you ever killed the wrong person? Is killing anyone ever killing the "wrong" person?
4. Have you ever torn out someone's tongue? Does mine count?
5. Have you ever been a professional critic? In my utopia, all professional critics will be killed. Or critiqued. Whichever is worse for them.
6. Have you ever wiped out a family? Some day I will tell you all of my exploits in 15th-century Spain. Good times.
7. Have you ever tried to give sanity a bad name? Aren't I doing that right now?
8. Have you consistently practiced sex in some unnatural fashion? I love the word "consistently" in this question. That means I can answer "No."
9. Have you ever made a planet, or nation, radioactive? I wish.
10. Have you ever made love to a dead body? Well, one girl once lay there like she was dead, but I suppose I shouldn't get into that here.
11. Have you ever engaged in piracy? With a name like Yellow Pete Drake, of course I have!
12. Have you ever been a pimp? Only for my daughters' ... blog. (You like how I did that?)
13. Have you ever eaten a human body? Icky. I prefer wholesome foods like pigs' knuckles and squid in its own ink.
14. Have you ever disfigured a beautiful thing?

This wasn't an accident, you know! That'll teach them to keep me out of the Louvre just because I was wearing my American flag shirt with the "France Sucks" logo. Posted by Hello
15. Have you ever exterminated a species? Well, I thought I took care of it with the coelacanth, but the damned thing came back!
16. Have you ever been a professional executioner? It's only a hobby.
17. Have you ever given robots a bad name? I named my Japanese sex robot Miss Bootytacular, which, upon reflection, wasn't that good a name. Is that what they mean?
18. Have you ever set a booby trap? Booby. Hee-hee.
19. Have you ever failed to rescue your leader? Never. As I plan to be Supreme Leader some day, if anyone failed to rescue me, they would face dire consequences. So I set a good example and always rescue mine, until the day comes when I am strong enough, and then ... but I've said too much already.

Now that's what I call a meme!


A light snack of links

Well, I mentioned that I probably wouldn't have time to cruise the Internets this past week and bring you all the links you so richly deserve, and it was true. I did not have time, what with the new kid and all. I'm sure you'll forgive me. However, I did manage to find a few things, and I bring them to you now. It's a light snack!

I have found a few new blogs recently. Ask An Evil Villainess is just that: questions about evil posed to Gateau Doomcannon herself. Funny stuff. Beth's blog is relatively new, and it only has a few posts, but they are really excellent. Read in wonder as she grades high school essays about William Blake and learns that Americans no longer employ chimney sweeps because we've sent all those jobs overseas! She left a comment on my blog a while back, and I just read it, so I hope she comes back. More readers here are always welcome! I have also been directed to Zilla's Comics Journal, which is, yes, another comic book blog, but so far it's good reading. Like you have anything else to do!

Anyway, on to the other links!

I don't hold the Bush Administration in contempt because of the war in Iraq. Those soldiers are volunteers, and yes, it's sad that some of them are dying, but that's what the armed forces are for. Bush went to war with Iraq for stupid reasons, but Saddam Hussein was obviously a scumbag, and if Bush wanted to pick on that particular scumbag, more power to him. No, I hold the Bush Administration in contempt because of their idiocy. First, they deny that global warming is taking place. Now, they commission a study on the environmental impact of cattle grazing, and then alter it to make it more beneficial to cattle ranchers! This is why I hate Bush. Of course, this was buried in our newspaper, because God forbid we criticize the Administration. Why, that's treasonous!

Donald Rumsfeld says the insurgency in Iraq could last up to 12 years. According to most of the liberals I hear, "everyone" supports the troops. I don't. I want the situation in Iraq to continue to deteriorate. It might actually teach us a lesson. This is great news. Yes, I'm evil.

I read this story on Wednesday about rubbing baseballs before using them. I bet you didn't know that they rub mud on the balls before using them! The mud comes from this company, which uses the mud found at a secret spot by the Delaware River near where I grew up. No other substance is allowed on the ball! Just more trivia for you to astonish people with at parties.

Here's some news of the bizarre! Seven men abducted an Ethiopian girl and were going to force her to marry one of them. She was rescued and then guarded by lions until she was rescued. Last week it was killer hyenas in Malawi, this week heroic lions in Ethiopia. I must visit Africa soon.

One blog I did manage to visit this week was the Disgruntled Chemist's, and in this post he linked to the wonderful phenomenon of Michael Jackson's face appearing on toast. This is just sad. No wonder we have no values. It's bad enough when it's the Virgin Mary, but Michael Jackson?

I mentioned that a Philadelphia high school wants to make African-American studies a graduation requirement. Well, now the legislators want them to knock it off. Maybe it's because I'm from the area, but this story fascinates me. I agree with the lawmakers who say that the kids should learn chemistry and math and shit like that, but on the other hand, this is an intriguing look at the way our country is evolving. And kids should know more about Sundiata anyway.

This site is awesome. Type in any body in the solar system as seen from any other body, and it shows you a simulation. It's beautiful. Seriously.

A woman sues a radio station because when they told her she won "100 Grand," they gave her the candy bar, not cash. She'll probably win, too. FCC rules and stuff, plus there's a precedent.

A transsexual soccer player has been cleared to play in a Tasmanian women's league. She used to be a he, but not any more! You go, girl!

Did everyone catch Tom Cruise going apeshit on Matt Lauer? My friend Ken, who recently decided that Cruise is his favorite crazy celebrity (even though he'll probably soon go back to Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, because, let's face it, they're truly insane), said the interview was awesome. I haven't looked for it, but judging from the printed excerpts here, it was awesome.

A Nebraska man loses 573 pounds in a year. He was 1072 pounds. How does that happen? Whenever I hear about something like this, I really wonder how it happens. I feel bad for anyone who weighs in the four-figure area, but how does it happen? Does anyone know?

Jordan (the country, not the basketball player) has refused to publish a novel written by Saddam Hussein. No wonder he lost the "war"! He was too busy writing novels to make sure his army was in good condition. Seriously, wouldn't you pay good money to read Hussein's book? It has to be excellent, doesn't it?

Finally, I posted many pictures of the new baby, the old baby, and my baby (Krys) over at The Daughter Chronicles. If you have never experienced the birth of a child, it gives you all the breakdown you need. Enjoy! (And I swear, no pictures of Winston Churchill.)

I hope that these links satisfy. We'll see if I am able to surf as much as I like next week, or if I'll have to pick the carcass of the web like I did this week! Babies - what are you going to do?


Things you think about when it's midnight ...

... and you can't sleep because the kid is crying every five minutes and all the caffeine you had over the course of the day is affecting you, which it rarely ever has (does that mean I'm getting old? - seriously, caffeine never affects me, but last night ...), and your mind is racing:

Did you know that "varsity" is a colloquial slang term for "university"? Now you do!

The lights you see when you close your eyes tightly are called phosphenes. I read this years ago and for some reason remembered it. When I write the Uncanny X-Men (it will happen, I tells ya!), one of my villains will be an mutant assassin who lives only as phosphenes - she can travel from eye to eye like that, and kills by making your eyes explode. There. I put it in print. If anyone steals it, I'll come looking for you!

The shortest war in history was the War of the Cricket Match, fought in 1896 between Zanzibar and England. It lasted 37 minutes and 23 seconds. Just so you know.

I learned today that there have been many instances when the record high and record low for a day at a specific place were achieved on the same day. The most dramatic was probably Las Vegas, which on 13 July 1972 had a high temperature of 119 and a low of 48. Cool.

See? Even when I have other things going on, I can still tell you some useless trivia. This is what I do.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and offered their congratulations. They really should be for Krys, since I just sat there all day wondering why this annoying woman was interrupting my viewing of Pardon The Interruption. The nerve of her!

More information about Norah and Mia can be found, obviously, at Mia and Norah's blog. We'll have pictures soon. Real ones, not Winston Churchill. I promise.


Another Burgas to adore!

Wednesday, 22 June 2005, 4.40 p.m. PDT. Norah Igraine Burgas joins the world. She weighs 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and is 20 1/4 inches long. She immediately begins screaming. She's awesome. Here's her picture:

Oh, wait a minute - that's Winston Churchill. Well, all newborns look like Winston Churchill, so just use your imagination. I will have photos soon!

If you don't know where we got the name Igraine, you obviously aren't as big a geek as you need to be. Shame on you!

More news soon. She's healthy and so is Krys, so for now, that's enough. How will Mia react? Ah, there's the rub. The sibling rivalry begins!


Great songs, according to me (Part 7)

I hope you enjoyed the links on Sunday, because I may have to skip a few weeks. We're still waiting on Krys to pop the kid out, and I'm busy doing stuff to get the house ready, so I may have less time to surf the Internet for your edification. I will try to keep up, but it might be difficult for a while. I sort of have a life, you know!

That doesn't mean that I will neglect my own blog, however. No sirs and madams! You need to know what my great songs are, don't you? Check out Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, and Six. Because work can wait!

61. Black (by Pearl Jam on the album Ten, 1991): Pearl Jam rose from the ashes of Mother Love Bone (see #70 below), a band that is better than they are (sorry, Eddie - it's true). Pearl Jam, however, was the best band in the world for a while, and Ten kicked off a remarkable run of three albums that rank as some of the best rock and roll in the last 20 years. "Black" is one of those songs that carries you away, and you can't help but belt out the lyrics along with Eddie, and you don't even realize how sad a song it is until you get to the end, when you're practically screaming "I know someday you'll have a beautiful life, I know you'll be a star in somebody else's sky, but why, why can't it be, why can't it be mine?" Chills, I tells ya! When I saw Pearl Jam in concert in 1991, they did every song from this album EXCEPT "Black." That still pisses me off, because I can only imagine how incredible this song would be live.

62. Black Country Woman (by Led Zeppelin on the album Physical Graffiti, 1975): Another reason why Zep is so completely excellent, Black Country Woman starts off with that funky little honky-tonk that Page does so well, with Plant's snotty lyrics complementing it nicely. No one can sing lines like, "But that's all right, I know your sisters too," and make it sound so smooth yet evil like Plant can. And then the harmonica kicks in, and the stomping, and you're bopping along, and you forget that Zep is one misogynistic band. Who cares - they're awesome.

63. Blasphemous Rumours (by Depeche Mode on the album Some Great Reward, 1984): "I don't want to start any blasphemous rumours but I think that God's got a sick sense of humour and when I die I expect to find him laughing." What more do you need? The chorus makes this a great song. Okay, like most Depeche Mode songs, it's kind of depressing, but still. It has that weird scissors sound in it, too, which always freaks me out.

64. Bleed The Freak (by Alice In Chains on the album Facelift, 1990): This is the only Alice In Chains album I own, and apparently I haven't missed much. This is a decent enough album, but "Bleed The Freak" is one of those songs that makes it worth it. Musically, it's fine - typical 1990s grunge, if that's your thing. As usual with me, lyrics can make or break a song, and "Name your God and bleed the freak" is a spectacular line. Staley and the boys were not often great, but this time they were.

65. Blissed (by Jesus Jones on the album Doubt, 1991): "Blissed" is the last song on Jesus Jones' breakthrough album, and although most of the songs on the album are good, a few rise above, and this one is a fabulous way to end it. It's a joyful song about being happy with yourself, and it has a nice, funky, sort-of techno beat going on. I like uplifting songs to finish albums, and this is a great one.

66. Blood Of The Wolf (by Hamell On Trial on the album Big As Life, 1996): Ed Hamell is a very interesting musician - he plays kind of punk-folk stuff, and throws in some musical poems too, one of which is this riveting tale of his childhood friend who robs a Kentucky Fried Chicken with a fork. The song alternates between insanity (he robbed a KFC with a fork, after all) and beauty of friendship . If you have a chance to check out Ed Hamell, do so. He's totally worth it.

67. Blood On The Rooftops (by Genesis on the album Wind And Wuthering, 1976): Another nice quiet song by Genesis before they went all pop on us, from the second Phil-on-vocals album. The typical Genesis stuff is here - some coy music that slips into a sort-of nostalgia for Owld Proper England, and impenetrable lyrics ("Hypnotized by Batman. Tarzan, still surprised! You've won the West in time to be our guest - name your prize!"), but a melancholy tune that simply works when you let it sink in.

68. Blow Up The Outside World (by Soundgarden on the album Down On The Upside, 1996): Soundgarden was a pretty good band, weren't they? They seem to get left behind in the 1990s grunge explosion, even though they had some success. This is their last album, and it's really very good, as they leave the world of "Black Hole Sun" (blech) behind and get tougher again. Of course, they can be "sensitive" and "Blow Up The Outside World," although not a ballad by any stretch of the imagination, slows things down a bit. You know you're in for a downer when the first line is "Nothing seems to kill me no matter how hard I try," but it's more than just a depressing song, it's a powerful statement about alienation. Fine stuff, and it gets under your skin in a good way.

69. Blueman's Daughter (by The Horse Flies on the album Human Fly, 1987): The Horse Flies are a sort-of folk band who show up occasionally with a new album. I first picked up their brilliant 1992 album Gravity Dance, still one of my favorites records, and then learned that my thesis advisor in grad school liked them and knew a few of the band members. This either proves that she's cool or I'm a hopeless nerd (probably the latter). Anyway, this album is decent, but not great, with "Blueman's Daughter" one of the highlights. It's a nice little folk tune with quiet banjos and fiddles and soft lyrics about being in love with, you guessed it, the blueman's daughter. Nothing life-changing, just great musicianship.

70. Bone China (by Mother Love Bone on the album Apple, 1990): Andrew Wood, the amazing singer/songwriter of Mother Love Bone, died overdosing heroin before this album came out, and the band broke up, with two of the members (Ament and Gossard) going on to fame and fortune with Pearl Jam. Too bad, because Apple is a truly brilliant rock and roll record, and who knows what MLB might have accomplished. "Bone China" is an example of the band's brilliance - powerful guitars driving the song forward, and Wood's inexplicable lyrics that somehow make sense when you listen to the song. Come on, "Ugly morning - she's Jezebel's daughter; she's like a Brunhilda, a child of the water"? WTF? It doesn't matter, because at the end, when Wood sings "I'm just waiting on that dream, 'cause the fast ones, the fast ones always ride for free," you just feel it deep in your soul and know that he snuffed out his greatness too soon. Stupid bastard. I challenge you to listen to Mother Love Bone with shouting out every song at the top of your lungs. A great band.

Well, that's another batch of great songs, according to me. Any criticisms you want to make? They're welcome! It's all subjective, people!


The links, the links - they're driving me mad!

Well, it's Sunday, and Happy Father's Day to any fathers out there, and Happy 19 June to everyone else. I know you're dying to sign my GuestMap, aren't you? The latest sucker - I mean cool person - is Adjunct Kait, whose blog I recently discovered. Hi, Kait! She has a nifty idea about writing a poem that I have to steal soon.

Okay, it's Sunday, and the links are coming fast and loose. For some reason, I seem awfully angry about politics today. Please bear with me. But first, other stuff!

Comics and their related kin. You're still not reading comics? Are you a Commie????

Johanna gets an Ultimate Fantastic Four subscription card in her Entertainment Weekly. I don't know why comic book companies don't advertise in "mainstream" media more often, so I'm all for this.

I stole this picture from Dave's Long Box. Why? Because I can! Posted by Hello

Ian looks at Avengers #107, the comic book that references itself. Anyone still want footnotes in comics back?

This is a Marvel comic. I kid you not. Fred Hembeck writes an article on The Adventures of Pussycat, Marvel's 1960s-spy-sex-parody caper comic. It's very interesting. The '60s were happening, man! Posted by Hello

Scott gives us onSTAR: the superhero version!

Scott (a different one) links to Peter von Sholly's web site, where you can find lots of neat stuff (check out the dinosaurs-in-World War Two comic book cover that Scott has at his site).

Brian Hibbs has an interesting perspective on company-wide crossovers and why DC and Marvel don't learn their lessons.

Jay Pinkerton gives us a Batman Begins primer! Where would we be without you, Jay?

More great Silver Age quotes - this time from the JLA. Here's one: "I'm powerless except from the waist down!" I wish I could make this stuff up.

Why you don't piss off Superman. It's not necessarily why you think.

Yes, it's just an excuse for a cheesecake picture of Yvonne Craig, but Mister Snitch has a link to a bunch of Batman links! Quality stuff! Posted by Hello

The always-fun political stuff. Because nothing brings people together like politics!

The Saudis are bringing slaves into the United States. Lots of links in the post. Ladies and gentlemen, our allies!

Speaking of our allies, they're exempt from nuke inspections. Now, they don't have nukes, but God forbid we check them out. Countries who are our allies now will always be our allies, so we don't have to keep an eye on them, right?

General Tom Friedman thinks we should bring back the draft. More good news for the Bushites.

A bronze calf has been erected by Wyoming Republicans. Would I lie about something as ironic as this? It comes from Pharyngula, who got it from Amygdala.

Here's a story about canned salmon. It may not sound like much, but you do know what they do to canned salmon, don't you? Ick. This comes from Balloon Juice.

An interesting take on African debt relief. I'm currently reading a book that sort of ties into this, so I'll have more to say on African debt relief soon. Won't that be fun!

Speaking of Africa, this right-wing blogger says Africa's problems aren't Bush's fault. You know what? I agree with her. Bush has a lot more to answer for than not helping Africa, because a long succession of presidents haven't helped Africa either.

Ten reasons to close Guantanamo. There is an interesting rebuttal in the comments section, as well.

There's been a bit of a buzz on the Internets about the anti-homosexual boot camp in Tennessee. It's been getting attention because one of the inmates has a blog. Blogs - is there anything they can't do? I've seen this a lot of places, but I saw it first on Welcome to the Sideshow. This is just sickening. People who send their kids to this place should be shot.

A story about selling girls into sexual slavery. More shit no one in power cares about, but should. From Balloon Juice.

Women protest in Tehran. I'd be more worried about Iran if I didn't know that everyone under the age of 30 hates the fundamentalist government. It's not long for this world.

Caliban points us to an article about government interference in airlines in Texas. Apparently they don't like a free market in Bush's home state, because it might hurt American Airlines! Shocking!

Speaking of Texas (I don't mean to pick on it, really!), the Supreme Court overturned one of their many death sentences because they said the defendant, who's black, didn't get a fair jury. I'm a little squeamish about this. On the one hand, I totally believe that prosecutors would cheat to get people who are naturally predisposed to think black people are all evil on a jury. On the other hand, do we really want to start insisting each racial type gets its own jury? That bugs me.

Heretical Ideas links to two different stories about Microsoft, Yahoo, and Google aiding China block words like "freedom" from Chinese bloggers. Yes, it's true. Money above all else, after all!

I mentioned this a couple of days ago, but it's worth repeating: the GOP has introduced a bill to repeal the 22nd Amendment so Bush can serve more than 2 terms. This is the mindset of these people - we can't fight the crap, so we'll get Mr. Popular elected again. This bill was introduced in February, and Mr. Popular is no longer quite so much, so I doubt this has any chance, but it's interesting how we didn't hear about it.

A Kansas preacher is planning on protesting a soldier's funeral. In Idaho! He picked her at random, apparently, and claims God killed her in revenge for his church being bombed. Now, I don't support the troops, but this is just ridiculous. And tacky. And rude. But it's America - we don't care about those things anymore! Rude? It's God's Will that he protests!

Because God forbid the United States government is the only one that puts the all-mighty dollar above civil rights, the Australian government allows the Chinese to interrogate Chinese dissidents on Australian soil. Yeah, you may have to read that again. Why does everyone crap their pants when the Chinese are involved? We need Jack Bauer to go in there are fuck some shit up.

Jim Henley links to a story in which it is revealed that the United States and Russia are the only ones opposing an investigation into the Uzbek massacre from a few months back. What has happened to our sweet land of liberty? Can anyone help me out here?

Here's another story I've seen a couple places, but first on Balloon Juice:
Philip Cooney, who was working for the administration's environmental policy council, will go to work for ExxonMobil in the fall. Bwah-ha-ha. Meanwhile, Exxon denies that fossil fuels cause global warning. Boy, that's news, ain't it? I'm sure Bush will come out and say they now have conclusive proof it doesn't.

I'm sure you've heard about this, but it's worth pointing out: Arnold Schwarzeneggar jeered at a graduation speech. Again, I'm of two minds about this. Sure, it's fun to jeer him if you don't like him. But what happened to respect? Don't vote for him if you don't like him.

Wal-Mart has done it again. I don't know if this is country-wide, but in West Virginia, the company has instituted new availability guidelines. It means everyone has to be available for any shift from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., regardless of seniority or extenuating circumstances (like single mothers who can't get babysitting all the time). Go, Wal-Mart! This is from Echidne of the Snakes.

Speaking of Wal-Mart, John Cole links to an actual ode to Wal-Mart. Fascinating!

The Rude Pundit, in his foul-language way, encourages college Republicans to volunteer for duty. Your country needs you! Hey, the Bush girls are eligible for duty. What are the chances they sign up?

Pope Benedict wants unity. Well, shit, who doesn't? I assume by "unity" he means, "everyone acknowledging that Catholics are right." How could he mean anything else?

The Deputy Attorney General says the United States can hold prisoners in perpetuity. I'll ask again: what the hell happened to this country?

Why we will lose the war in Iraq. Unpatriotic bastard!

The Seattle high school from which Jimi Hendrix graduated refuses to allow military recruiters, telling No Child Left Behind to go screw itself. This is a provision of NCLB, and a lot of high schools are starting to tell the military to step off! Way to go, high schools!

Hey, remember Dick Durbin and what he said about Guantanamo being as bad as Nazi death camps? Yeah, I thought it was pretty dumb too, but here's what the FBI agent actually wrote. In case Republicans need to know, there's also a lengthy discussion about why any torture isn't okay. That's what it's come to: we need to tell people why Americans shouldn't torture people.

More on Dick Durbin, as Newt Gingrich wants to censure him. This may be one of the dumber ideas Newt's ever had, but of course, conservative bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon.

Bush admits to mistakes in Iraq! Well, okay - rhetorical mistakes. He now plans to "accentuate the positive." Our president - always thinking! This is from the Huffington Post.

This is funny. Scott McClellan, it appears, is completely incapable of giving a straight answer! It's almost painful to read. I wish I could see video of it.

Strike the Root gives us an old but excellent essay on anarchy (from Jan. 2004) and the many instances of using the United States military abroad. Very interesting stuff. I consider myself an anarchist, and the first essay nails it perfectly.

Catallarchy has a very interesting post and a link to this article, which is about a drug specifically designed for black people. Really fascinating.

Here's a quote by Chris Wallace of Fox News on the Hugh Hewitt show. He's talking about the prisoners in Auschwitz in comparison to the prisoners in Guantanamo. The quote is ... well, check it out yourself. The link is courtesy of Atrios.

Is the Iraq death toll higher than reported?

I haven't seen it, but this guy dissects the fact that Newsweek blames Mark Felt for September 11. Yes, that's what I just wrote. This link is from Firedoglake.

Nebraska Republican Senator Chuck Hagel says we're losing in Iraq. Oh dear - that won't sit well with our president and his cabal. I found this on the Huffington Post.

All this bad news must mean that Bush is at least considering something different in Iraq, right? Well, um, no.

Oregon resumes issuing medical marijuana cards. Screw you, federal government!

Thoughts on the future of the Democrats. Links to other ideas as well.

Uproar over gay-themed books. I don't know, I've read my share of gay-themed books, and I've never felt like "going gay." Apparently children are just so vulnerable that even reading about them will make them flame up!

The funny stuff. After the politics, we need to laugh at stuff that's supposed to be funny.

This can't be real, can it? Anal sex in accordance with God's will. Sweet Merciful Jeebus! On the page you will find a link to Biblical justification for a threesome. Oh. My. God. These are from Tom Peyer.

Peyer also asks the crucial question: What Would Jesus Suck? He links to the Christian Dollar Store, where you can buy them!

For anyone who is creeped out by the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes pairing (TomKat, I read somewhere - ha ha), Sean Maher gives you Tom's real identity! Not for the squeamish!

Business etiquette. If you've ever worked in an office, you will recognize the wisdom in these words.

A new, better, Republican Jesus. You know they want it this way!

The Mad Monk Barbarossa also links to a bunch of anti-Bush stuff, including this excellent short film that shows what would happen if Jesus ran against Bush in an election.

Pages ripped from children's books. Not for children! It's Jay Pinkerton, so that should be obvious!

Various and Sundry gives us CSI with stick figures. It's good. My mom loves that show - she should check this out.

The waiter tries to serve food to a woman on a diet. Sure, it's sexist, but it's funny.

Great debates! No, it's not Lincoln-Douglas or Kennedy-Nixon, but it's close. You decide!

Layne has decided to do a comic strip. Here is the first installment, and here is the second one. Another reason why all blogs are better than mine - I would never think of clever stuff like that.

Touched by Morgan Freeman. There's a long tradition that kings could cure disease just by touching someone. In 21st-century America, our royalty is celebrity. Therefore, this makes sense.

Paul Lynde Hollywood Squares humor. Very funny. Remember when you could be subtle about your gay sex references and get it past the censors? "Subtle" is another word that seems to have fallen out of our vocabulary. I stole this from Mr. Snitch.

Zombie Tom goes for a job that is perfectly suited for him. Good luck, ZT!

Walker goes shopping. So what, say you? Just check out the pictures of him shopping. Funny stuff.

What B2 sees when he reads Goodnight Moon. If you're a parent, you must read this shocking exposé about this beloved children's classic!

Jimmy Olson and a hot dog. So not what you think.

John Cole wants captions for this photograph! Posted by Hello

Miscellaneous. It's like the cigarette at the end of good sex!

The Great Curve links to the web site for Oceanic Airlines. So what, say you? Come on, people! Oceanic is the airline from Lost. It's very real-looking.

A bunch of pictures of Norway. From Shane Bailey, who steals my schtick with a lot of links. I guess I'll allow it, because they're pretty interesting.

Look at this picture. Posted by Hello Okay, did you look at it? That's a robot. Read more about it at Ace of Spades, which makes the obvious point that it's a Japanese guy and, well, he's a guy. It's not the stated purpose, but what do you think these will be used for?

A friend of mine is having some issues with kidney stones. Because he's a geek, he tells us about it as if it were Star Wars. Fun stuff. Feel better, Mad Monk!

Science and Politics links to this story, which isn't funny but will make you laugh anyway: Man accused of beating his girlfriend with a Bible. Who knew its many uses?

Speaking of things that aren't funny (but absolutely won't make you laugh), here's an update on the Ohio school rape. Grrr. The boys are pleading not guilty, claiming the sex with a developmentally disabled girl was mutual. As I mentioned before, if this happened to Mia, those kids wouldn't have gotten this far, because I would have killed them. There's also more on the principal who didn't want to call the cops because of the embarrassment it might cause the school. All this is from Digital Brownshirt.

What sustains deep undersea life? Let me tell you: it ain't pretty, but it is fascinating. John Cole pointed this out.

Yes, it's a hamburger blog. Andrew Sullivan gives it the publicity!

The Disgruntled Chemist links to this site, which claims the Earth is not moving. I can't decide if they're serious, but I have to believe they are. Science sux, man!

Dancing With the Stars beats the NBA Finals in ratings. Well, of course! Would you rather see Evander Holyfield and J. Peterman dancing or four of the absolute worst basketball games ever, and somehow strung in succession! The choice is easy!

Do you want your SUV to look like it's been out in the wild, without all that stupid driving to the wild itself? Of course you do! So get Spray-on mud! It's come to this, people. I found this on the Ministry of Information blog.

A teen gets it trouble for vomiting on a teacher. Sweet Fancy Moses!

Giving away dairy products is illegal in Pennsylvania. Luckily, this doesn't include cheese. Phew! This nugget of information is brought to you by Chris Cope.

This week they were hunting a killer hyena in Malawi. These sorts of things just don't happen in boring countries like the United States.

Balloon Juice links to the story about the high school principal who urged teachers to "reconsider" grades so the school could meet federal requirements. Sigh. No wonder our kids don't learn anything except that cheating is fine - adults don't give them any role models.

But then we get this story, about a San Diego principal changing the school's culture by refusing to coddle "at-risk" kids. Nice to see. This is from the Education Wonks blog.

Thomas was away this week, but his blog was still going strong! From it we get a story about getting fired for blogging! I'm glad I don't have a job, because that would be me.

Want to be a hitman? Who doesn't? Go here for more information. This has to be illegal, doesn't it? Roxy was bored at work, so she linked to this. Watch out, Roxy! Read the story above!

The Disgruntled Chemist found this. It's purty. Posted by Hello

And because it's so purty, we'll end there, with the world asleep, and no one angry at each other. Wouldn't that be nice? Be good, children!


Where memes come to die

Chris and Logan were nice enough to tag me with the damned superhero meme that has been going around, so I'll oblige. Every once in a while I have to geek out.

1.) If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? (Assume you also get baseline superhero enhancements like moderately increased strength, endurance and agility.)

If I were a pervert, I'd naturally say invisibility. If I were a true superhero fanboy nerd (what do you mean, I am?), I'd say the ability to create spirit-proof glass jars (come on, comics geeks - you know what I'm talking about!). But I think the stretching ability of Mr. Fantastic, Elongated man, and Plastic Man is pretty cool.

2.) Which, if any, 'existing' superhero(es) do you fancy, and why?

My trifecta of X-Babes: Psylocke, Rogue, Dazzler. I have loved them since I was a teenager. Why? No matter who writes them, they are very cool and exotic. Interesting to chat with, and ridiculously hot.

3.) Which, if any, 'existing' superhero(es) do you hate?

Everyone picks Gambit, it seems (okay, three people), which would have been my choice, but I just think people have written Remy poorly and stereotypically. I have always hated Cyclops, but I don't want this to be a X-meme. Let's go with Superman. God, I hate him. He's boring and ineffectual. Lousy all around.

4.) What would your superhero name be? (No prefab porn-name formulas here, you have to make up the name you think you'd be proud to mask under.)

Well, since I have the stretching power, Stretch Armstrong! I'm sure the copyrights could be worked out ...

5.) For extra credit: Is there an 'existing' superhero with whom you identify/whom you would like to be?

Peter Parker. Well, not the new "I'm in the Avengers" Peter Parker, but the old one. He always had money problems and job problems, so I can identify with him, and then he got marry a hot model!

6.) Pass it on. Three people please, and why they are the wind beneath your wings.

I refuse. This is why memes come here to die. Most of the comics bloggers I regularly visit have done it already, and the ones that haven't ... well, I don't send along chain letters, and I'm not going to send this along. If you're reading this and want to do it, be my guest - I like reading memes, I just don't like sending them along. Sorry!


Why the Downing Street Memo means absolutely fuck-all

I don't often post about current political things, because so many do it better than I do. The Downing Street memo brouhaha, however, makes me chuckle. According to it, if you haven't heard (because you live in the U.S., where according to liberal blogs, "no one" is talking about it, except those same blogs and everyone on Air America), Bush and Blair decided to "fix the facts" so that everyone would support Bush's Iraq invasion, even though everyone knew Hussein didn't have weapons of mass destruction. Now the lefties (of which I am one, I want to emphasize, since I'm bashing them a bit) are crying for impeachment, because their (our?) Savior, William Jefferson Clinton, was impeached for far less.

Jesus. Get over it. This memo was written three years ago. Who fucking cares anymore? If the Democrats hadn't been pussies back then and stuck their asses up in the air for Bush to fuck however he pleased, we wouldn't care about this stupid memo. It's ancient history! For fuck's sake, the so-called "neocons" were planning the Iraq war before Clinton left office! It's on the goddamned Internet! Check out their statement of principles, from 3 June 1997:

It is important to shape circumstances before crises emerge, and to meet threats before they become dire.

We need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values.

We need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
(All emphases mine.)

Who signed this sucker? Why, it's Dick Cheney! And Donald Rumsfeld! And Paul Wolfowitz! Plus a bunch of the usual suspects. So why is this memo causing such a stir?

I'm sick of Democrats (and lefties in general) whining about Bush and how he "stole" the election and how he's fighting an illegal war. Shit, everyone knows he's fighting an illegal war, and one that is doomed to failure. Ignoring Vietnam, let's look at the history of warfare in a foreign land against an entrenched, united enemy with relative weaponry (in other words, the Iraqis aren't throwing rocks at us) and a concrete cause. The Soviets in Afghanistan? Check. The British in Afghanistan? Check. The French in Indochina? Check. The Italians in Ethiopia? Check. The Nazis in Greece? Check. The Turks in the Balkans? Check. The French in Algeria? Check. The U.S. in Iran? Check. The Syrians and Israelis in Lebanon? Check. Shit, we're doomed.

Anyway, Democrats shouldn't worry about three-year-old shit. Bush is desperate for two things, as his poll numbers circle the drain and his own party rebels against him. He is desperate to retain his Congressional majority, and it looks like he might have to get even crazier Republicans into seats to do keep ramming things through that are destroying the country; and he's desperate to create a Supreme Court that reflects the "No God but Allah - I mean Yahweh" fundamentalism that has taken over the Republican Party. This is what Democrats need to focus on: beating the vulnerable Republicans in 2006 and regaining a majority in Congress, and somehow hoping that "real" conservatives like Sandra Day O'Connor (a Reagan appointee, remember, yet somehow she has become too liberal for King George) decide to hang on until after the mid-term elections or (if the crazy wing of the Republicans gets stronger) until after Bush is gone. It's not going to be easy. Energy wasted on whining about Bush and his circlejerk with Blair three years ago isn't helping.

Oh, and in case you missed it: Back in February, the GOP introduced a bill to repeal the Twenty-Second Amendment - you know, the one they introduced to keep another Roosevelt from happening. It limits the president's terms of office to two. Apparently Bush is so great they want to keep him for four more years. This is what we should be worried about, not some stupid memo.

Rachel Hunter needs to shut up

In today's Arizona Republic, Rachel Hunter talks about her struggles with cellulite (I'd link to it, but I can't find it on their online edition - weird). Fine, Rachel - we believe that a supermodel with a personal trainer can get cellulite. But then comes this:

"I have two lumps on the side of my legs that I call Renee and Liam."

Yes, she named her cellulite after her children.

Boo-hoo, Rachel. First of all - TMI. Second of all, shut the hell up. Posted by Hello


True Tales From My Childhood - "My First Time"

I must have been 12, because I remember turning off the television after watching the premiere episode of Manimal and thinking, "Wow - that show is going to last a long time. Who doesn't love it? And that Doctor Jonathan Chase sure is a dish!" My uncle came into the villa with his whip in his hand, and I knew the albinos in the north molybdenum fields had gotten a taste of the lash once again. Uncle Mac looked at me sternly and said:

"How old are you now, boy?"

I told him, sheepishly. He sniffed both in disgust and from the Pixie Stix dust ringing his nostril.

"Reckon it's time we made you a man."

I nodded, uncomprehending. My uncle often spoke of such things. He had told two native snake charmers he was going to make them men, which apparently meant they had to feed him grapes on the verandah after he had had too much sangria. He had told my dog One-Ear that he was going to make him a man, which meant siccing him on the head of cabbage Uncle Mac thought was getting suspiciously large. He had even told the wife of the local despot that he was going to make her a man, which meant dancing the cha cha with her while the band at her wedding played a polka. I waited to see what he meant with me.

"We're going into town, boy," he said. "We're going to get your cherry popped."

'Town' in this instance meant the collection of 20 or so huts a few miles down the Irrawaddy, but I nodded again. I knew he and my father must have discussed this, so I went along. Dad would be in Sikkim negotiating with the king for the use of a cadre of Yeti as day laborers (you can pay them in mongoose feces, and they don't unionize - it's actually against their religion) for the next two weeks, and I guessed the time could not wait until he returned. I knew, also that when my uncle said "going into town," that could mean only one destination: Madame Ostrowsky's Den of Pleasure. And that destination gave my father too many unpleasant memories. He went there often after Mom took off with that seven-fingered clown from Rangoon (a memory which has led to me to places like this in my adulthood), and he always returned smiling and sobbing at the same time - I never figured it out until much later. Anyway, after he got the lesions and had to start wearing the catcher's mask, Madame Ostrowsky (in reality an ex-colonial officer named Liam) banned him from the establishment. Uncle Mac, rash-free, continued to head down there every Saturday night and return every Sunday morning just in time to disrupt Reverend Smith's sermon and urinate in the collection plate.

We took the jet skis downriver and parked at the only pier for two hundred miles. It was a Wednesday afternoon, so the townspeople were surprised to see my uncle. They ran screaming into their houses, which Uncle Mac waved aside with a jovial, "They always make a fuss when I show up - I reckon right now they're planning some big fete for later!" We walked through deserted mud paths until we reached the biggest hut in town - Madame Ostrowsky's. Uncle Mac bellowed that he was here, and pushed aside the two midgets drunk on rice wine who served as saloon-style doors to the place and entered.

It was unlike anything I had ever seen. Wicker and bamboo everywhere, two lazy fans circling above, men sprawled in various states of undress and stupefaction along the walls, women dressed like geishas trolling through the human maze, some carrying trays filled with what looked like glass tubes, some holding violins and trombones on which they played slow, mournful jazz, and still others leading various barnyard animals around on leashes. The women were spectacularly beautiful - I had never imagined women could be this beautiful, not even when my uncle and father would dress up and put on shows for the plantation workers. They looked like they had been sculpted by a master, who spun them on wheels and added perfect curves right where they were needed. I gazed at them, deciding first that one was the most beautiful - no, that one - but what about that one - and here comes one down the stairs! I was instantly aware of a heat flowing through my body, a heat unlike anything I'd ever felt before, even hotter than when my best friend Siegfried put crushed jalapeño in my underwear. I looked desperately at my uncle, but he had drifted over to a tall, spindly, nattily-tailored gentlemen and was conversing quietly with him.

I raced over just in time to hear Uncle Mac say, "I say give him to Stella," to which the tall man said, "You're daft." I tugged at my uncle's sleeve and he spun around, a blazing smile on his face.

"My dear boy!" he boomed. "Madame Ostrowsky here and I were just discussing your predicament. I think today you will see Miss Stella."

"Now, MacGillicuddy ..." said Madame Ostrowsky.

"Hush, Liam," said my uncle. "He's a strong lad. Stella won't hurt him."

He told me to go to the top of the stairs, take a right, and knock on the first door on the left. When I was given permission, I was to go in and do everything Miss Stella instructed. I had become very good at knocking and waiting to be told to enter a room ever since the "Uncle Mac and Miss Cavendish and the large plate of elephant testicles" incident a few years earlier, so I nodded eagerly (an eagerness I did not feel, I can assure you, as my stomach was doing flip-flops) and dashed off. I climbed the stairs, still unsure what was expected of me. How would visiting Miss Stella make me a man? What made a man? Did it have anything to do with what my uncle was doing to Miss Cavendish and the elephant testicles? I doubted that I wanted to be a man that badly. But I did not want to disappoint my uncle or my father, who had doted on me since that awful day when my mother said, in front of all of us, "Giuseppe treats me better than any five-fingered man ever could! We're going to live in the Philippines and bring laughter to the Tasaday!" I suppose the least I could do for them was to become a fine man. If visiting Miss Stella made me that, I owed it to them.

I knocked gently on the door and waited. A soft voice told me to enter, so I did. Miss Stella's room was even more exotic than the lobby. It smelled of lilac and seemed to be slightly hazy. In the center stood a four-poster bed with a gauzy covering hanging over it. The room was lit only by candles, which seemed to my unromantic soul a serious fire hazard. Miss Stella sat on a divan to my left, and she took my breath away.

As she stood, I saw that she was taller than my father. His encephalitis and club foot make him seem shorter than he is, but she was very tall - well over six feet. She wore shiny leather boots that ended about halfway up her thighs, and the heels added another eight inches to her height. She had a black leather thong on, and a bustier laced up the front, pushing her breasts upward and outward. She had long, black hair, completely straight, and flaming green eyes. Her face was unadorned by makeup, but her natural beauty almost overwhelmed me. The heat I had felt downstairs was threatening to knock me senseless. Miss Stella must have seen that, for she took my hand and led me quickly to the bed, where I sat on goose-down pillows into which I could have easily melted.

"Drink," she commanded, in that soft, silky voice, and held out a glass to me. I sipped the delightful fruity concoction and felt much better. She eased onto the bed beside me.

"So, MacGillicuddy brought you," she cooed. I nodded, unsure if my voice would work. "Oh, he's quite the legend around here. When you're older, I will tell you some stories!" She laughed, and the sound was like wind through chimes. She continued, "So, ______ is your father?" I nodded again. "Wonderful! I will make you forget your mother, dear. That is what I'm here for."

She stood and pulled a chest out from under the bed. I swallowed nervously and croaked a question: What was I to do?

She looked up and smiled. "Don't worry. Miss Stella will guide you." She opened the chest and took out a box. "Here we have the apparatus," she said. "This will teach you."

She placed the apparatus in between us. I shifted uncomfortably on the pillows as she set it up. She explained all the parts to me and the rules of engagement. I didn't realize becoming a man was so strictly informed by rules! We sat with the apparatus in the middle, and she instructed me. She breathed deeply and huskily when I did the right thing, saying things like, "Yes, right there," and "You hit me in just the perfect place," and she was playfully stern with me when I did the wrong thing, saying "My dear boy, you're not even close!" and "That was clumsy placement!" As I got better, she became less playful and more focused, because she saw that I was becoming a master - in such a short time! It became less of a game and more of a battle of wills, and with each slight move I made, she squirmed more urgently and I gained confidence. Finally, after hours of a thrust here, a parry there, and Miss Stella and I getting more and more heated and more and more in synch, I made my final move, and she cried out in part pain and part passion, and simpered, a beaten woman:

"You sank my battleship!"

Then, I knew I was a man. It has been my my favorite game ever since. Thank you, Miss Stella. Thank you, Uncle Mac. And thank you, Dad. I'm sorry I had to feed you to the hippo. But that's a story for another day.


Omnia de pecunia obscena est

Hey, my rant on education is featured in this week's Education Carnival. Check it out for more horror stories from our schools!

Second, I must pimp my GuestMap when someone new signs it, so you will sign it too and be just like all the other cool kids! Dave Fiore is the latest to take the plunge. Dave is a ridiculously fascinating guy, and I'm happy that he seems to be back blogging, because I missed his loquacious posts.

Anyway, on to the point. Is my father right? I mentioned that he thinks everyone in the world is motivated by money, and how that depresses me. Well, I often get the sneaky suspicion that he's right, and that depresses me even more. Case in point, and what prompted this. I was watching Along Came Polly last night (please don't question my viewing habits - I just was, okay?) and I just kept wondering what the hell happened to Ben Stiller. Okay, everyone else's presence in the movie I can buy, sort of. Jennifer Aniston really hasn't made a name for herself in the movies yet, and although she's richer than the Pope, I can get her wanting to do something somewhat different than "Rachel." Alec Baldwin and Bryan Brown and Philip Seymour Hoffman were all playing caricatures of characters anyway, and having fun with it. But Ben Stiller? What is he doing in this movie?

Slumming, that's what. Cashing a paycheck. And that depresses me. I like Ben Stiller, but he has become a guy who simply shows up for the money playing the same character. Stiller isn't a bad actor. In Reality Bites, he did a fine job. He was very good in Zero Effect, which is a sadly neglected classic (and which Logan recently praised, which reminded Gordon of how great it was - see, the blogaxy is good for something!). In dramatic roles, he was quite good in Your Friends and Neighbors and Permanent Midnight. And Flirting With Disaster is, I would say, one of the brilliant movies of the 1990s. So what happened to Ben? He has decided to play pretty much the same character in his recent movies - he's either the strange "ugly cool attractive guy" (in Zoolander or Dodge Ball) or the nerdy, can't-do-anything-right guy (everything else). Was it Meet The Parents that did it? It's a good movie, but nothing you should base a career on. I don't know. He's phoning it in, though.

I don't mean this to be a Ben Stiller rant. I'm just not completely sure why actors and actresses make the choices they do. One would think Ben Stiller has more money than he knows what to do with, so he can pretty much act in anything he wants. He doesn't have to keep going to the well. It's the same thing with any actor. Aren't these people well off? Are they like Mike Tyson or MC Hammer, who threw away all their money? I can get De Niro slumming occasionally, just for a change of pace. But why doesn't someone like Sandler try to do more stuff like Punch-Drunk Love? Sure, it went nowhere at the box office, but did Sandler really need the money?

It's not just actors. It's anyone who is successful. It seems like they become more obsessed with taking the wealth they have and turning it into more wealth, instead of wondering if there is more to life. I have a lot of respect for people who continue to push the envelope, money be damned. That's why I have more respect for R.E.M. than U2, because Stipe and the boys said, "We're doing what we want, and we don't care who doesn't like it." It turns out no one liked it, but that didn't stop them. The minute Bono saw sales slip (on Pop), our Dublin boys went back to the future on All That You Can't Leave Behind. I liked that album, but was disappointed at the obvious pandering to their old audience that went along with it. Does Bono really need all that money? Considering he's applying for the job of Savior of Mankind, maybe he does.

I'm not saying I'm immune to this. I'm certainly not holding myself up to a higher standard than celebrities - I wouldn't do that, because everyone knows celebrities are better people than we are. I'm sure that these people didn't get into the business to make money. Bono and Mr. Edge didn't sit down in 1978 and say, "Let's make lots of money by forming a rock band." They may have said, "Let's score lots of girls by forming a rock band," but that's a perfectly noble reason for forming a rock band. If you want to make lots of money, you don't go into acting, because there are simply so many actors out there. I didn't go into teaching to make lots of money, because if I told anyone that's why I did it, they would justifiably laugh at me. I've never had to opportunity to make a crapload of money, so I can't say I wouldn't do this.

It's just sad. Here we have, in Stiller, a very talented comic actor who has also shown dramatic talent and a nice directing touch. He could be making the great comedies of our time. I'm serious. Instead he's making Starsky And Hutch and Meet The Fockers. Ultimately, is it all about money?