Thursday, October 31, 2002

Death to Partisanship!

The “memorial service” for seven men and women killed in a airplane crash including the mother and grandparents of a tragically grieving child turned into a foot-stomping political rally last night in Minnesota attended by a joyful septuagenarian Walter Mondale and a lower-lip biting Bill Clinton.

The Democratic Party turned out en masse to dance on the graves of U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone, his wife, daughter and their fellow aircraft passengers and claim that the best way to honor their untimely deaths would be to defeat the Republicans.

These politicians, who distanced themselves from Wellstone in life, last night celebrated his integrity and commitment to unpopular principles. Wellstone was fondly remembered as the Senator most likely to find himself on the short end of a 99-to-1 vote in Congress. Of course, that would mean that every one of his colleagues in the Senate, including the Democrats, was voting against him.

But no matter. The most fitting tribute to Wellstone, they said, would be to elect another bland, exhausted, Democratic has-been to the Senate.

Why Mondale? He’s a doddering old man. I can still hear him spouting out some dull dated campaign line about Reagan, “Where’s the Beef? . . . Where’s the Beef?” Hell, he makes Reagan look hip and 'with it" in comparison.

Aside from the crass partisanship last night which, no doubt, every person on that doomed plane would likely have endorsed, I was left wondering, why not let Wellstone’s son run instead?

No, not the burned out one, I mean David. He was eloquent, sincere, intelligent, and presumably authentically bereft.

Wouldn’t David Wellstone be a more appropriate candidate to “honor the Wellstone legacy” than a stiff and awkward political hack who last held office when “Staying Alive” was popular song, not a mission statement.

Of course, that would be the principled, honest, and genuine thing to do. But we’re talking about mainstream Democrats here. There’s an election in a week and they’ve already bought a lot of airtime. This is no time for candor. Damn it. We need to win!

As Wellstone himself said is a truly moving video tribute shown last night, “Politics isn’t about power, or money or winning at all costs. Politics is about helping people.”

I’m sure Clinton got a chuckle out of that one.

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Aussies For Islam

An uplifting story in today’s Arab News about the remarkable growth of Islam in Australia. It seems the religion of peace and tolerance is growing faster in Australia than any other faith.

According to Mr. Ridwaan Jadwat, the second secretary at the Australian Embassy in Riyadh, “Muslims have contributed much to Australia’s political, economic, and social life, and have cemented their place in Australia’s religious and cultural landscape.”

This unarguably true. Australia is a richer, more cosmopolitan, and less isolated place because of the presence of Muslims down under. Mr. Jadwat, an official of the Australian government, is living proof of that.

He’s also rather clever.

Jadwat concludes his story by noting that Muslims “occupy an increasingly important place on the Australian public square, and are embracing opportunities to participate in a tolerant, inclusive and culturally diverse Australia.”

Hmmm. What wrong with this picture?

Could it be that perhaps Saudi Arabia, which punishes non-Muslims with lashings, does not allow Muslims to embrace opportunities to participate in a tolerant, inclusive and culturally diverse Saudi Arabia?

Saturday, October 26, 2002

People Off Earth Now!

Shocking news today!

No, no, not about the sudden death of a U.S. Senator and his family, or vicious Chechin terrorists threatening to broadcast the murder of 800 hostages, or father and step-son sniper teams with Islamofascist sympathies, or even mysterious attacks on military aircraft high over Helsinki.

No, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, people take up most of the planet!

People and all their houses and cars and hospitals, schools, playgrounds, and libraries are leaving very little room for elephants, and rattlesnakes, and squawking crows, snapping turtles, poison ivy, ticks, and ferocious lions.

Of course, this study can be debunked instantly by looking at a globe and noting that the planet is mostly water. Moreover, the damn fish are hogging all that space to themselves.

Sure, the Dutch have made a valiant effort to convert as much of the ocean into land fit for beer drinkers and licensed hookers as possible, but they have a long way to go before the tuna and lamprey communities are threatened.

The study actually seems to suggest that all these people are a bad thing which is an odd conclusion to reach assuming that the study was designed, conducted, and analyzed under the supervision of people and not otters.

But I could be wrong. The pullout quote talks about saving "wild lands in pristine areas."

These "pristine" areas just happen to be the places that are even less hospitable than the places people are already taking up space like Irkutsk, Riyadh, or Melbourne.

Frankly, the sooner we clean up the "pristine" fever swamps, tundra steppes, and unheated high mountain plateaus the better. We need the room.

And anyway, what's so great about animals? They're rude, dirty, and lazy. Hell, some animals are synonymous with the sort of parasitic behavior that is not tolerated in the human world.

Fine, people take up most of the planet. I'm OK with that. Some of my best friends are people. I've learned a lot from people and many of the devices I use to read studies from the Wildlife Conservation Society were created by people. (Full Disclosure: I am a person and so are many in my family.)

But the WCS analysis of what threatens our world is woefully skewed.

It would be far more enlightening to ruminate on the fact that people take up most of the space in the Nord-Ost Theatre in Moscow, or that people take up most of the space at North Korea's Jimmy Carter Thermonuclear Device Manufacturing Plant Number 6, or that people take up most of the space in the International Space Station, although white mice might have the run of the place at the moment.

Frankly, it sounds like the people at the Wildlife Conservation Society don't get out with people all that much. If they did they might find that they're not all bad after all.

My suggestion? Sell the name of your dreary society to some college fraternity and go out and actually experience some wild life first hand.

Friday, October 25, 2002

They’ll Be Working on the Railroad

The FBI is warning that al Qaeda may be planning another attack on the United States, possibly targeting “the railway sector.”

As a rail commuter into and out of the Naked City everyday I am always on the lookout for possible disruptions of the mighty steel veins that pulse with the lifeblood of this great land. Besides, MetroNorth takes a dim view of railway sabotage by amateurs as it infringes on their expertise.

The FBI distributed the warning across the country on Wednesday, citing information from recent debriefings of detained al Qaeda members. It said the group has considered directly targeting U.S. passenger trains, possibly using operatives who have a Western appearance.

Well, that makes things rather simple.

Tomorrow morning you can bet that no matter how crowded the train is, I will forgo that one free seat next to the cowboy or grizzled old prospector.

And while I don’t care for racial profiling, I will nonetheless try to avoid any Commanche Indians getting on in Greenwich or dusty Mexicans sleeping under those great big sombreros at Grand Central.

Monday, October 21, 2002

The Clinton Version

This weekend the Clinton legacy brigade tested out some new talking points on North Korea in the hopes of deflecting blame for negotiating the greatest foreign policy sham treaty since Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich with a sign pasted to his back reading "mi├čbrauchen Sie mich."

According to Ash Carter, a former Clinton Defense Department appointee, who’s name in English literally means “Garbage Hauler,” the Clinton Administration was this close (tiny space between thumb and index finger) to attacking North Korea in 1994 when it announced that it would withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Comeback Kid supposedly weighted the options and was poised to act with uncharacteristic boldness to prevent North Korea from plunging the world into the abyss of nuclear terrorism.

All this, by the way, seemed to escape the notice of the news media at the time.

Ash Carter says the crisis was “defused” at the 11th hour by the “Agreed Framework” hammered out by Clinton’s steely negotiating team of Jimmy Carter and Warren Christopher et al.

Well, considering that the North Koreans never actually honored that agreement and in fact embarked on an even more ambitious nuclear weapons program just after agreeing to it, that hardly qualifies as a crisis defused. The most charitable interpretation would be a crisis hidden in the attic for the next tenants to discover.

It sounds a hell of a lot more like confronted with a determined Communist dictator the Clinton Administration surrendered unilaterally.

The essence of the crisis is that in 1994 North Korea threatened to build a nuclear weapon. Today, after the Clinton Administration defused the crisis, North Korea is threatening to use the nuclear weapon its claims to have built.

Nice work guys.

By the way, what do you have to do in Washington to “never work in this town again?”

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Put Yourself in Kim Jong Il’s Shoes

If the New York Times is a circus, then the Letters section is its sideshow filled with monstrosities so disturbing that they fascinate.

Today’s is a keeper as Times readers share their “thoughts” on North Korea’s revelation that treaties are not worth the ink cartridges they’re printed with.

Jeremy Meyer of Haverford, PA sees grande mal intent on the Bush Administration’s behalf for keeping the startling news a secret until after Congress had voted on the Iraq resolution:

“The Administration’s decision to withhold this information was apparently another cynical ploy to force a vote in Congress about Iraq while withholding critical and relevant facts.”

Is this guy for real? The vote would have been 100 to nothing to ice Iraq if the Senate knew that Kim Jung Il had just dissed us so blatantly.

More likely, Bush figured if he released the news before the vote, guys like Jeremy here would say it was a cynical ploy to force a vote in Congress about Iraq.

That’s why these guys are irrelevant. You’ll never win them over, so why bother?

Next up is David Hayden, of Wilton, CT. David apologizes for Gerneralissimo Kim by saying that Cowboy Bush forced him to seek nukes to defend himself and his Magic Kingdom.

“ . . .the Administration’s declared intention to pre-emptively attack any country that it deems a terrorist threat will encourage many countries to aggressicvely pursue technology that promises protection agianst more powerful foes.”

Well, actually, all countries naturally seek protection against powerful foes. To not do so would make you irresponsible, like Canada.

David has a good point though. Threats without action will indeed encourage the Saddams of the world to seek WMDs. That’s why we must vaporize Saddam. That would then make the Kims of the world think twice about pulling the sort of shit he did this week.

And finally there is Kwan Ha Yim of Purchase, NY who sounds like Kim himself writing under a pseudonym. I’d deconstruct his letter too, but I’m too tired to do any more damage to him that he has not already inflicted on himself.

Thanks Tony

Tony Pierce takes time out from an important XBI operation in Cannes to post a link to The Invisible Hand. Although busblog is a forum notorious for its misogyny and exaggeration, it is also an amusing read that is a bit like Los Angeles, where Pierce happens to live.

At first it seems like a wasteland of closed doors and inside jokes. But once you get behind the facade where the cool people are, it’s pretty damn fun.

P.S.: Break up with Ashley? Sober up, Tony.

Friday, October 18, 2002

North Korea Admits It Actually Is Evil

Gosh, it seems that North Korea actually lied to Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Madeline Albright and Wendy Sherman when it agreed to stop its nuclear weapons program in exchange for billions of dollars in food aid and help on the construction of a "peaceful" nuclear reactor.

Yesterday North Korea officials admitted that they had a secret nuclear weapons development program that was developing secret nuclear weapons in secret. Hell, they even said they're working on a weapon even more powerful than a nuke!

This came as a great shock and a surprise to just about everyone who thinks George W. Bush is a moron especially those complete suckers (foreign policy experts) from the Clinton Administration who claimed North Korea was not like Iraq or Iran because it abided by nonproliferation treaties and that including it in the “axis of evil” was simplistic, unproductive, disagreeable, rude, mean, macho, jingoistic, testosterone-charged, sabre-rattling, fascist, etc.

I wonder if any of these dupes will now apologize and retreat into obscurity where they belong. Jimmy Carter, unfortunately, looks like he’ll be with us for quite a while but at least it’s entertaining to see his many foreign policy peace initiatives bear their strange fruit.

Here is a very short list of nonsense about North Korea that should be thrown back in the face of their authors with a resounding, “told you so!”

I look upon this, this commitment by Kim Il Sung as being very important,"
Jimmy Carter
June 15, 1994 after negotiating a deal with North Korea in which Pyongyang confirms its willingness to "freeze" its nuclear weapons program and resume high-level talks with the United States.

(“Axis of Evil”) was very understandable as a rhetorical device to rally the American people to cause against terrorism and to the cause against weapons of mass destruction, which none of us want. What I think was wrong about it in terms of North Korea is North Korea has negotiated successfully with us.

We have a 1994 framework agreement that stops the production of fissile material, which is the plutonium, the kind of plutonium needed to build nuclear weapons. They agreed to that framework agreement.

Wendy Sherman
The NewsHour
Feb. 20, 2002

It has been six years since his father has died. He is in charge of what is called kind of a hermit kingdom. And we had... he listened very carefully. He didn't lecture me. I went through all my talking points with him. And he gave rational answers. And he seems pragmatic. I made a big point of saying that these glasses that I have are not rose-colored. And I've spent my whole life studying communist systems, so I know what we're dealing with. But I think it's really worth exploring.
Madeline Albright
The PBS NewsHour
Oct. 30, 2000

The June 1994 crisis was a turning point in American nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. For three years the United States had tried to coerce North Korea into halting its nuclear arming, and failed. Then it tried cooperation and succeeded. It was a triumph of Track II diplomacy.
Leon V. Sigal
The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

The second error in current U.S. policy toward the DPRK is misinterpretation. The Bush administration believes that North Korea poses a direct threat to the United States. Like the previously touted Soviet menace, the North Korean threat is inflated.
John Feffer
“Bush Policy Undermines Progress on Korean Peninsula"
Foreign Policy

George Bush is on the verge of making a big foreign policy blunder. Instead of running with the Clinton policy on North Korea, the Bush team appears to be fumbling the hand-off. At the meeting, Bush accused North Korea of not adhering to agreements. When pressed by journalists, he was unable to give details. North Korea has predictably bristled at the new hard line. U.S.-North Korean relations could quickly degenerate into rhetorical one-upmanship.
John Feffer
The Progressive Media Project

Now I'm sure that by posting these contemptible excerpts along with the names of the morons who wrote or spoke them I will be contributing to a general stifling of dissent.

So be it. Anything I can do to that has a "chilling effect" on idiocy in time of war would be an honor and a pleasure.

Thursday, October 17, 2002

The White Van

Saying you saw a white van leaving the scene of a crime is about as useful as noting that there was a bird in the sky at the time. Look around you right now . . . go to your window and look outside. If you don't see a white van somewhere in your line of sight within 60 seconds you are probably living a sheltered life. For those inclined to paranoia it's pretty damn easy to convince yourself that white vans are shadowing your every move.

Keep in mind the white van didn't appear until sniper shot #8. After that, the whole damn world was seeing speeding white vans. Hell, didn't one witness say he collided with the white van? "White van" is synonymous with bafflingly undistinguished omnipresent vehicle.

Now, if witnesses had said they saw a grey Aston Martin at three separate crime scenes instead of a white van that would be a lot more useful.

UPDATE: Prince George's County Police now believe the sniper may be motivated by an unreasoning hatred of cans.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002

The DC Sniper Is a Foreign Terrorist

I believe that the sniper currently prowling the suburbs of Washington, D.C. is part of an Islamofascist terror cell. He is working with accomplices, and the “white truck” is a decoy.

The shootings will stop in Washington as mysteriously as they began while the team moves to another region only to begin the cycle once again.

The sniper has no job because he needs no money. He’s been trained and selected for this assignment by an organization that can afford to support him with funds.

The White Van. – This van appears at scene of the shootings and drives off after the attack presumably in the opposite direction of the sniper. The van has probably been stopped and examined but waved through any number of checkpoints when nothing suspicious turns up. It also seems to change shape from one occasion to the next.

Most likely the shooter finds a secluded spot and waits . . . waits for a victim . . . and then waits for a random white van to drive by. Think about it. If you’re looking for a white van, you'll find one . . . they’re all around you. Hell, there are websites devoted to white van conspiracy theories.

Witnesses now hear a shot and are conditioned to look for a white van and sure enough there they are . . . going in all directions.

Certainly, no one wanted for murder would be foolish enough to drive a white van around the beltway today.

The Timing – It is said that the sniper must have a day job because the attacks only happen in the morning or late afternoon and evening after normal working hours. Absurd. The attacks have happened as late at 9:30am and as early as 2:30 pm. Keep in mind that Washington traffic is among the worst in the country and driving 50 miles to Fredricksburg is a major undertaking.

Domestic Psychopath – Frankly, our preconceptions do not allow us to believe that a skilled sniper could be anything other than a white man. Americans have a difficult time imagining, say, an Arab man with the ability to remain calm long enough to squeeze off a highly accurate shot.

If such a person showed up at an al Qaeda training camp they wouldn’t turn him into a suicide bomber . . . not with such a valuable skill. Instead they’re design an operation around his talent. They’d deploy him somewhere where he could disrupt the rhythm of life and the government at the same time.

A Precursor? One of the discussion threads on FreeRepublic has this chillingly reasonable suggestion: what better way to divert the attention of law enforcement away from a larger terror operation in DC itself?

I never bought into the theory that the anthrax attacks were just some random act of a homegrown lunatic. It denies the fact that we at war. The same is true in this case. aside from all the rhetoric and evidence, there are still many Americans who deny that a war exists. They don’t want to believe it but the reality is that we are fighting a war on our own territory. And we’re not winning.

Not yet at least.

Monday, October 14, 2002

The War Arrives in Paradise

Australia is bracing for an appalling toll of death and suffering in the aftermath of the terrorist bombing in Bali. No one knows for sure how many people died in the blast but surely the smug indifference to the War on Terrorism is a collateral casualty.

Do I have inside information that the Bali blast was the work of Islamofascists? Yes I do. Having seen their handy work first hand a little more than a year ago in lower Manhattan, the descriptions of the scene, such as this one from The Independent, sound remarkably similar:

"It was surreal," Mr. Norton said. "You can't believe you're really there. It's something you see on the telly, but it never happens to you."

Other descriptions go far beyond anything I’d ever imagined. Read this one from the Sydney Morning Herald:

“I saw all the television screens around the bar explode. I saw heaps of people burning and dying around me. It was an inferno. I saw one guy whose leg had been blown open - he couldn't walk - he was just lying there screaming. I saw another man with severe facial burns - it was hard to tell if he was dead or alive. There was so much screaming."

Or this one from Australian television:

"It was like a bloody war movie. One bloke ... looked like a bit of wood, that's how burnt he was. A few of us helped this German lady out. She had no clothes on ... maybe it was burning and she ripped them off. You just think about it and you break into tears."

I’m very sorry to say that the war has now come to another doorstep and another peaceful and complacent population in the tolerant West has finally awoken to the danger.

Why would Islamofascists make such a provocative move now, when they could simply lay low and let their main protagonist, the United States, flail about at seemingly unseen threats? Because, they don’t want to avoid confrontation. Radical Islam’s intention is to spark a worldwide confrontation against the West on every front.

Watch now as the secular government of Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic country, is criticized by Australia for not doing enough to thwart terrorism and by it’s own Islamofascists minority for siding with the infidels.

This is just the sort of destabilization the Islamofascist movement wants unlike a toppled Taliban dictatorship or an overthrown Iraqi dictatorship which is the sort of destabilization that impedes their cause.

We are entering a transformational period in history. Instability is unavoidable. The status quo is indefensible. The best response is to manage change before the change manages you.

Very fortunately, this is the expressed policy of the United States and in time it will be the conventional wisdom of all those nations that value peace, tolerance and freedom.

Just a guess.

Friday, October 11, 2002

Corrections From the Other Side of the Earth

Natalie at PixelKitty has reacted far more positively to my description of Melbourne than I had initially feared. But she does have some corrections to make which I began to incorporate in my original posting but then decided that her version was far more worthwhile:

Just a couple of things, pedant that I am:

Proudly Reports - um no it was a little dig at the people who vote for these stupid things. I don’t like Melbourne. I'm not from Melbourne. I'm from Perth - the most remote capital city in the world - but at least we have sun, surf and no pokie machines. (Additionally, Perth came third in that stupid liveable city crap. Yay!)

Aussie - not ozzie
Qantas - no U its an acronym for Queensland And Northern Territory Airline Service Koala not koala bear - they are not bears, the vicious, stinking, rotten things

Crown Casino, one of the most appalling aberrations to ever foul the skyline, is one of about a dozen casinos in Australia. God knows why Melbourne needs one, considering you can use a pokie machine (one armed bandit?) in any pub, club or RSL. *shudder*

Flies - The One Armed Salute has been a well known Aussie term for over 80 years - it means to be waving those blasted flies away from your face. Something we have to do all the time in Australia. Melbourne has the least flies of any capital city bar Hobart, that's worth remembering.

Bats - there aren't any. They are in fact Flying Foxes, a type of winged possum almost. They have pouches for their young. Its sad that they are reduced to living in the Botanical Gardens, given that we have destroyed all of their natural habitat.

Weather - the weather in Melbourne sucks, it’s the only way to put it. Freezing cold and wet for 5 months of the year, 30-45 Celsius plus for the rest, with the ability to have every temperature between -5 and 35 in one day, along with wind, rain, sleet, sunstroke and heat exhaustion.

Flying Foxes?? Perhaps this is what Prince Charles had in mind when he threatened to leave Britain forever.
Watch Closely Now

When an unpopular Democrat in New Jersey dropped out of the election rather than go down to certain defeat and was replaced by a more palatable candidate at the last minute, the Democrats and the New York Times said that the election laws on the books in that state barring late substitutions were of no importance compared to the right of the electorate to a “lively campaign.”

Well, now the shoe is on the other foot.

It seems that the Republican candidate for Senate in Montana has just dropped out his race. He was trailing his Democrat rival 54 to 35.

What are the chances that the Times and the Democrats will demonstrate intellectual consistency and encourage a more popular Republican to enter the race in his stead?

Complicating the picture considerably is that fact the Democrat had just run an advertisement accusing the Republican of being a homosexual (not that there's anything wrong with that). Watch the spot and decide for yourself.

Oh, this is going to be exquisitely painful.

(via Jane Galt)
Misty Watercolored Memories

"In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility. I welcome it. . . . The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it -- and the glow from that fire can truly light the world."
-- President John F. Kennedy, inaugural address, Jan. 20, 1961

"We did not ask for this present challenge, but we accept it. Like other generations of Americans, we will meet the responsibility of defending human liberty against violence and aggression. By our resolve, we will give strength to others. By our courage, we will give hope to others. And by our actions, we will secure the peace and lead the world to a better day."
-- President George W. Bush, Oct. 7, 2002

"The question of whether our country should attack Iraq is playing out in the context of a more fundamental debate about how, when and where in the years ahead our country will use its unsurpassed military might. . . . The administration's doctrine is a call for 21st-century imperialism that no other nation can or should accept."
-- Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Oct. 7, 2002

Thursday, October 10, 2002

The Most Livable City?

Natalie Buxton of PixelKitty in Melbourne (not so) proudly reports that her town (well, actually, her town is Perth, but her current hone is Mellbourne) has been voted the world’s most livable city.

The title is surely deserved. Having been to Melbourne not long ago I can attest that it is indeed a beautiful place to be . . . shady boulevards, quaint trolley cars, and spectacular urban parks that rival anything in Europe or North America.

But like most of Australia, Melbourne benefits from one of the greatest public relations campaigns in human history. The city is located in one of the least hospitable corners on the planet . . . a part of the world so remote . . . as close to Antarctica as it is to any non-Auzzie-type nation . . . that even with supersonic transport, it is at least a day away from anywhere else.

The animals that live there are not cute and furry evolutionary oddities but vicious predators packing devilishly broad capabilities to deliver death with a peculiarly antediluvian emphasis on pain and suffering.

One of my ambitions since childhood had been to visit the Phillip Island nature preserve near Melbourne to see the large colony of Koala bears there. I mentioned to a local that I looked forward to holding one of these sleepy fur balls in my arms. The local turned grave and said, “you don’t want to touch one of those bastards, they’ll tear you apart.”

Sure enough Koalas are armed with long razor sharp claws and a foul disposition that appears to be common among marsupials. Photos show this quite clearly yet foreigners have been so successfully duped by Qantas (thanks Nat) advertisements that only locals would ever consider cuddly Koalas to be “vicious bastards.”

I traveled to Melbourne for work and had the luxury of travelling in business class non-stop from LA. It’s an extraordinarily long flight. Indeed, when I arrived the newspapers were reporting on a fellow traveler in who died of a blood clot that had formed after hours of immobility in a coach class seat.

What’s worst about this trip is that there is no pay-off. No exotic architecture, swarthy foreigners, or incomprehensible languages. Everything looks pretty much the same in Australia as it does in North America. It’s like taking a 22-hour flight to Toronto.

In Melbourne I stayed in a bizarre hotel that is probably the least characteristic building in the city. It’s an over-the-top 30-story phallus that looks like it was designed by a completely unrestrained Donald Trump. It was surrounded by massive pyres that simultaneously exploded into flame every hour on the hour much to the chagrin of the local winged creatures.

Attached to this hotel is a huge gambling casino – the only one in the country I’m told but I have no facts to base this on – that contributes an embarrassingly large proportion of the total tax revenue for the province. I had occasion to walk through it at 4am on the way to work and saw another Australian landscape not shared with outsiders . . . pitiful Asian tourists losing their shirts at blackjack . . . a man drinking alone at a deserted bar made entirely of neon. . . another man convulsing with tears surrounded by his dejected family. A pretty grim scene to behold before breakfast.

Outside, while sunnier, is no less disconcerting. While Australians speak fondly of its unique creatures they rarely, to my knowledge, mention the ubiquitous blood-sucking flies. These flies look like ordinary houseflies except that they bite and are single-mindedly attracted to the moisture that coats your eyes and the blood vessels in your head. As a result it’s not unusual to see people jumping, running and swatting the air around them as you tour the city of Melbourne.

And then there are the bats. Swarms of them as big as bread loaves. You can see them swooping over the skyscrapers at night blinded by the lights.

During a morning walk through the Botanical Gardens I entered a palm grove that was strangely denuded. About 50 yards inside the grove stood a sign that said something like “Warning: Huge ferocious bats the size of condors have infested this palm grove and are consuming it as you read this. Leave the area at once! But whatever you do don’t run because the bats are attracted to sudden movements and will surely swoop down and get their big leathery wings caught in your hair. If you are bitten or lacerated by one of these colossal bats, lie down immediately and prepare to die.”

Did I also mention that it’s blisteringly hot in Melbourne, especially around Christmastime?

Most livable city in the world? I wouldn’t know.

I don’t live there, thank God
Buzzcocks Respond

The Buzzcocks are denying Larry Miller’s account in the Weekly Standard of a concert last month in which the band was vociferously booed because of some anti-Bush diatribe the lead singer allegedly launched between songs.

While they don’t actually deny holding the political views Miller says they expressed at the concert, they do say that no political views were expressed at all during the September 14th show. Presumably they were booed off the stage for some other reason.

I’m eager to find someone else who can corroborate Miller’s story. Frankly, it sounds too good to be true.

BTW, this is all happening over at the one stop online shop for all your Buzzcock needs.

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Capitalism Briefly Sighted in D.C.

The Washington City Paper does an excellent round-up of the anti-everything protests which coincided with the IMF/World Bank annual meetings last week. Sparsely attended and largely a disappointment to its anarchist organizers, the protests were a bust and inactivists were hard pressed to put a positive spin of the non-events. According to Rae Valentine of the Anti-Capitalist Convergence, "We truly interrupted capitalism in D.C."

That’s a laugh to anyone who has ever spent time in D.C. The District a virtual no-free-enterprise zone with small shops and markets making up it most visible Private sector. The rest are just parasitic law firms and spin hospitals. Hell, Washington is one of the few places where people actually refer to "the private sector." Capitalism is about out of place in D.C. as a mulletted redneck going door to door selling “far wood” would be in New York City.

We truly interrupted capitalism in D.C.? First you'd have to disinter it.

Monday, October 07, 2002

New York Times and Mainstream Opinion Briefly Coincide

The New York Times today ran a breathless front page story reporting the results of a public opinion survey it commissioned showing that if you ask the right questions a plurality of participants will answer in a way that corresponds to the views of the New York Times.

Under the blaring headline, “Majority of Americans Agree With New York Times,” the Times reported that 51% of those surveyed had either vague reservations about conflict with Iraq, very slight reservations, growing reservations, grave reservations or deeply held and unyielding reservations about conflict with Iraq.

When asked if they support enforcing U.N. resolutions against a brutal fascist military dictatorship that is clearly striving to acquire weapons that can kill indiscriminate millions of people, respondents agreed by overwhelming majorities.

But when the Times rephrased the question as “Don’t you agree that massive casualties among innocent Americans like yourself and your family are not worth one drop of foreign oil?” that majority dwindled to the high forties. When asked if millions of America deaths could be justified by “some crazy Bush family vendetta against Saddam Hussein,” respondents said yes only 39% of the time.

“This proves that the Bush Administration’s assault on civil liberties has had a chilling effect on public discourse and that just below the surface lies vast untapped reservoirs of resentment, envy, authority-questioning, nostalgia, patchouli, mind-bending psychopharmaceuticals, tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming,” said a euphoric Howell Raines adding, “either you are with us, or you’re with The Man.”

Saturday, October 05, 2002

The Smell of Desperation

Click here to see how far the Democrats have fallen.

Instead of soaring Kennedyesque rhetoric, the DNC is deploying a crude flash cartoon with the production values of Stickdeath to get voters to excersize their civic rights. It shows George Bush pushing a wheelchair bound senior citizen over a cliff.

Gee, didn't FDR use a wheelchair?

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Sausages Made Before Your Very Eyes

I was looking forward to reading how The New York Times would describe the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision yesterday to ignore state law and allow the Democrats to name a new more popular candidate for the Senate. To most people the law seems pretty clear: no substitutions less than 51 days in advance of an election.

The Times reports today:

“New Jersey law only speaks of allowing a candidate to be replaced 51 days or more before an election, but does not expressly address making a change closer to the election.”
Isn’t that a bit like saying the statutory rape law only speaks of consenting adults 16 years of age and older but does not expressly address 12 year olds?

The Times could actually provide a useful service to voters if it were to report well before Election Day which election laws the Democrat Party intends to recognize this cycle.

Unconditional . . . With the Following Conditions

The BBC reports that negotiators from Iraq and the United Nations have agreed on a new definition of the word “unconditional.” Until now the word in English meant “without conditions or restrictions . . . free and unfettered.” The new meaning henceforth will be “in compliance with expedient standards.”

The new definition came as Dr. Hans Blix, the chief negotiator for the U.N., announced an agreement today saying the UNSCOM weapons inspectors would have unconditional access to all sites in Iraq except for eight “palaces” consisting of nearly 1000 nondescript, windowless cinderblock warehouse-like structures with massive cooling towers, colossal conduits of electrical cables linking them and underground missile silos. Satellite photos reveal hundreds of square miles of parched land barren of any vegetation downwind of several of these palaces

The new redefined word unconditional breaks an uncomfortable deadlock that had seemed to force U.N. diplomats to recognize the true intent of the Iraqi fascists and compel the world assembly to back up its sharp words about weapons inspections with equally pointed actions.

Today’s announcement restores and solidifies the status quo and was greeted with relief by the privileged statesmen who would find it difficult to live graciously in New York City on the salary their skills would likely command in the backward impoverished kleptocracies they represent.

“That was a close one,” said Mahabarata Cookandeatacat, the first deputy counsel for The Republic of Fanatistan. “Any further tension would have put in jeopardy all the we have worked so hard to achieve: the prestige, the glamour, the moral equivalence, the tax-free existence that we extranation bureaucrats so enjoy and cherish.”

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Americans Speak Up

A new Gallup survey shows that a large majority of Americans approve of President George Bush and his administration’s forceful approach to the Iraq theater of the War on Terrorism.

Indeed, all the most recognizable members of he Bush national security team are given high marks for their performance.

But perhaps most interesting finding of this poll is the very last question . . . the one regarding Gerhard Schroeder. He is very unpopular in the United States with only 16% of those surveyed saying that they have a favorable opinion of him and 22% saying that their opinion is unfavorable. Twenty-six percent said they had now opinion one way or the other.

But here’s the rub. Thirty-six percent said they’d never even heard of Schroeder. So that means that 10% of Americans have no idea who Schroeder is but still have an opinion about him.

Now that’s democracy.
Steisand: Artist, Filmmaker, Expert Speller

Jeez, Barbra Steisand sure does take herself seriously. Check out this statement posted on her website.

She’s livid that her accusations of Timber Industry complicity in the Bush Administration’s push for war with Iraq have been trivialized by the moronic misspellings in her note to Rep. Richard Gebhardt (sp).

Babs says she dictated the message to an underling:

"Unfortunately, it was taken down and interpolated by a new employee who sent out a first draft before it had been reviewed or checked for spelling. On top of that, as Barbra Streisand ruefully recalls, 'It was faxed to a wrong number…my luck, a Republican.'"

Boy, I’d love to have been a fly in the dressing room while Barbra “mentored” her new employee in the wake of that unfortunate interpolation. I assume it was exquisitely painful.

OK, so some typos slipped through. It happens to the best of us. I’ve even let one or two soil this very page on occasion.

But Barbra is a bit more touchy about this than is appropriate. In her very next sentence she feels it necessary to defend her academic credentials:

"THE IRONIC FURTHER TRUTH.. Hidden in this example of diverted news priorities is the fact that Barbra Streisand is a former spelling bee champion, meticulous in her written communications!"

Spelling bee champion?

Was that the 2001 English Speaking Union Annual Spelling Bee held at the Bodleian Library at Oxford?

Or maybe the prestigious World Economic Forum Global Spelling Championship held in Davos every four years?

Or perhaps was it just some fifth grade project of an anonymous public school in Brooklyn back in the early 1950s?

Spelling bee champion? Is that the best she can do? And yes, how could the media have buried that exonerating bit of evidence?

Hell, everyone knows Steisand couldn’t have made those errors . . . she’s a globally recognized expert in spelling! She’s a visiting fellow at the Harvard University Institute for Advanced Spelling Knowledge.

She’s well known for her meticulous written communications. (I can see her dictating that sentence while throwing battered Grammy awards at her beleaguered “new employee.”)

But wait! If she’s so meticulous in her written communications, how could this sentence have slipped into her four-page long preening online biography:

“Convinced that 1998 national general election was one of the most crucial in recent history, she applied herself to the election of candidates and issues she felt essential.”

Oh boy . . . someone’s gonna catch HELL for this!!

I'll give Steisand credit for being a remarkably successful singer. She didn't write the songs, but she did recite the words in such a way that millions of people want to pay money to hear them over and over.

I think that's great. But it hardly qualifies her to have any more influence on foreign policy than you or I. If she wants to mix it up in the world of unsolicited advice why doesn't she just get a blog like everyone else?

Here's the deal: Let's let the BarbraBlog dazzle us with its meticulous spelling and I promise never to force people to listen to my singing.

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Annoy the French Now!

Arcade, the people who created Blinkenlights in Berlin last year have done it again, this time in Paris.

Blinkenlights was an interactive art installation that allowed you to control the office lights of a building on the Alexanderplatz transforming it into a huge video monitor. There is a cool video clip of it here.

Well, they’re doing the same thing this year with a French twist. For the next two weeks or so you can post images and animations to the side of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.

There is streaming video available here if you want to see what’s currently playing. As I type there is the perfunctory image of Che Guevara, the late Latin American would-be military dictator.

What a bore. Clearly there is a shortage of imagination that can be addressed right now . . . by you!

Go here to access the software needed to create your own Arcade animation and piss of the French in a big way.