Saturday, June 30, 2007

Definitely a Way to End a TV Show

No, it's not who you think it is. This is lovable Farfur, who was a regular on Al-Aqsa TV for the children's show Tomorrow's Pioneers. Farfur sang, danced, taught kids their letters and numbers, and regularly denounced Israel and called for violent jihad and martyrdom.
Disney objected (for obvious reasons).
Israel objected (for obvious reasons).
Fatah objected (their rivals, Hamas, ran the station).
Until today, when Farfur himself was martyred.
Yes, kiddie shows have changed a lot since the last time I watched Romper Room. Farfur was "killed by an actor posing as an Israeli official trying to buy Farfur's land. At one point, the mouse called the Israeli a "terrorist."
That's certainly one way to go out on a high note.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Two Words:

Fucking Wankers.

For those people unlucky enough at this juncture to be residents of Florida, this is the Capitol Complex in Tallahassee. Kindly note the phallic symbolism of the two legislative chambers (domed) flanking the office block.

Sort of what they've done to us, with their notions of property tax reform.

Phase One of this gang rape is completed, and the overall savings to the average taxpayer will be about $178 a year. Think about that a moment - only $178 a year in savings. Naturally the richer you are, the better off you'll be - and if you're a big corporation, you're making out like a godsdamned thief.

But this is the False Republican meme, folks: Trick-fuck the public while lining the pockets of the rich and the corporations who donate money to the politicians.

Now, to the counties and municipalities, the pain caused by this first phase of cuts can be likened (on the pain index) to a prostate exam by a doctor with large fingers.

But the best is yet to come.

Phase Two.

Phase Two is due in January, in the form of two amendments to the state Constitution. One choice (the one that makes the homestead exemption portable) will not hurt the counties or municipalities, while the other (another tax rollback) will eclipse the earlier cut in terms of relative pain in much the same way that an unwelcome finger in the rear can be compared to taking a whole fist all the way up to the elbow.

But a lot of people don't care. To them, essential services such as police, fire and EMS are like insurance - usually out of sight/out of mind. Now, imagine having to wait for a police officer to show up while your husband beats you.

Would you be willing to trade back that $178 a year now?

The Queen Wore a Beard

About 3,500 years ago (more than half the age of the planet, if you listen to the Yahoos) there was a ruler of Egypt named Thutmosis III. By all accounts he was a bit of a waste, so his stepmother put the move on him and took over the kingdom. The lady's name was Hatshepsut.

Since the Pharaoh had to be a man (after all, one of the titles was "Son of Amon") Hatshepsut was often portrayed in male clothing, complete with fake beard as a mark of nobility. Her reign was generally beneficent but after she died the stepson took over again and tried to erase her from memory.

Gotta love the patriarchy.

Her funerary temple, however, is one of the grandest and most visited monuments in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. However, her actual tomb was thought to be lost forever.

Until now, that is.

The Egyptian Department of Antiquities has announced that they have found Hatshepsut's mummy, and will be running a DNA test to prove the authenticity of their claims.

Now, why on earth, you may ask, am I going on about this?

Well, apart from applauding the continuing advances made in both archeology and in genetic science, I applaud the fact that there were strong-willed women leaders even that far back in our history.

I wonder how Hillary would look in a fake beard?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What the Hell Is

This guy's major godsdamned malfunction?

This, believe it or not, is not a raving psychopathic with a United States Embassy seal photoshopped behind him. This is the 46th Vice President of the United States, the "honorable" Richard Cheney.

This so-called honorable man, who has sworn - twice! - to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States, has done more to circumvent that very Constitution and those very laws than all of his predecessors combined.

He has ramrodded Executive Orders past his all-too-willing dupe, the hapless Distracter George W. Bush, who has dutifully signed everything thrust under his nose.

He has snarled and hissed like a rabid wildcat at any who dare criticise or question His Supreme Authority.

He has had his underlings make the startling assertion that his office is not subject to oversight or scrutiny, and is essentially above the law.

He has had his underlings assert, beyond all good sense, that his office is not part of the Executive Branch but a fourth part of our government (something that would make James Madison spin in his grave if he weren't already).

This disgusting creature who dares sully our government deserves to be impeached and removed from all political office, then brought to criminal trial for treason and fraud.

Impeach Dick Cheney.

Cast the fucker out.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pro-Choice By Default

Just caught this rather disheartening bit of news off ABC's Blotter:

Report: Iraq Violence Leading to Abortions, Drug Abuse Among Civilians
June 19, 2007 2:31 PM
Justin Rood Reports:

"Pregnant Iraqi women who have been forced from their homes by worsening violence are obtaining illegal abortions because they are unable to get medical care for themselves and their unborn, according to a new report by a national humanitarian group.

A record number of Iraqis -- most of them women and children -- are fleeing their homes to escape the bloodshed of sectarian violence and anti-U.S. attacks, according to a new report by the Iraqi Red Crescent organization, the largest aid group operating in Iraq.

Health care is inadequate and difficult to access for those people, according to the IRC report.

"Pregnant women, infants and children are unable to get...required medical care," states the report, which was translated from Arabic, "and criminal abortion became [sic] the norms."

Rape, theft and drug addiction have also become "commonplace" among the displaced, who live in government buildings, at relatives' homes, tents, or squat in abandoned homes or makeshift huts on empty land, according to the report, which was first noted on the Iraq news site

The number of "internally displaced persons" -- refugees who leave their homes but remain in the country -- has quadrupled since January, the group found. As of May 2007, 1,024,430 Iraqis have left their neighborhoods to live in safer regions, the group reported, with more than 400,000 people pouring out of the areas around Baghdad and Mosul, which have been plagued by sectarian violence and anti-U.S. attacks.

More than 1.8 million Iraqis have fled the country entirely, according to the United Nations.

The report by Iraqi Red Crescent, which says its personnel reach every village in Iraq, comes on the heels of a May report from the International Committee of the Red Cross, which warned of the "immense suffering" caused by the ongoing conflict.

"Shootings, bombings, abductions, murders, military operations and other forms of violence are forcing thousands of people to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere in Iraq or in neighbouring countries," the group said, noting that food is scarce in some regions, and power shortages are worsening."

The outlook is bleak," the Red Cross noted, and "likely to worsen."


You know a humanitarian catastrophe is in the making when pregnant women seek abortions rather than a) risk their health in a war-torn apocalyptic landscape, or b) when conditions are so parlous that they can not see when it will ever end, and don't want to have children in such a world.

Way to go, Bush.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Do You Feel Safer Now?

I, for one, most assuredly do not.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

A Very Fun-filled Weekend

Last Friday I got home early in time to hear a message on my answering machine. My mother asked me to come by as she wasn't feeling well (dizzy, lightheaded). She doesn't live very far away.

So I went on over and she told me that a new symptom had been added - a knot of pain "like a charley horse" under her sternum. A tiny red flag went up and waved in the back of my head, and after another few minutes she declared that it wasn't going away and asked me to take her to the hospital.

Needless to say the car sprouted wings.

Yes, it was a heart attack, but a certain kind of heart attack - an angiogram showed that the coronary arteries (the usual culprits in such things) were not blocked. What she had was a little something called by various names, two of which are neurogenic cardiomyopathy or Tako-Tsubo Syndrome. Basically her central nervous system kicked her heart in the slats and now it's bruised and hurting.

My Dad died less than three years ago, so I freaked a bit and called the immediate family in the area (easier than it sounds; my sister-in-law's mother was in the same hospital). By the time they showed up I was a bit more stable. Mom had been given her angiogram and moved to the intensive care unit.

Luckily the syndrome that she has is treatable with meds and rest, and I was able to take her home Tuesday. In addition to myself, a gaggle of neighbors have agreed to look in on her or rally around in case anything untoward happens.

But it's been a rather wearing time, and I apologize for not posting as often as I should.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The New Bourbons

M. Talleyrand, upon observing the court of King Louis XVIII of France after Napoleon was deposed, said that the House of Bourbon had "forgotten nothing and learned nothing." Which is a neat way of presaging Santayana's dictum that "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it."

Welcome to the ancien regime nouveau, ladies and gentlemen, courtesy of our new program of arming Sunni insurgent groups and tribal militias in Iraq so they can help us fight the al-Qaeda salafi (foreign) terrorists.

Bear with me here. We are seeing more and more of our soldiers and marines blown up by Shiite and Sunni insurgent groups, so we're going to ARM selected Sunni groups based on their promise they won't turn those weapons on us.

Does anyone see any historical parallels here?

Afghanistan in the 80s?

Does anyone in the fucking Pentagon, that five-walled monument to Murphy's Law, recall the concept of blowback?

Ordinarily my crystal ball doesn't work well - it has a crack in it, so I get split screen - but mark my words: Some of these US-armed Sunni groups WILL aim those weapons at our men and women.

There is not enough rope.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

"If There Is A God, Then He Is The Devil."

(Voltaire said that, by the way.)

I've always been interested in the problem of how to explain evil, ever since I read the following:

"I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I the LORD do all these things." - Isaiah 45:7

That's pretty unequivocal, isn't it? God (at least the Old Testament flavor) was a lot like a lot of the gods back then - capable of doing bad things as well as good, with little or no explanation of why he bothers at all. If you don't believe me, witness the way he manages to avoid answering Job's questions regarding his suffering.

The philosopher Pierre Bayle had a similar problem with evil, likening God to a doctor who allows his children to break their legs just so he can demonstrate his skill at healing. He broke it down into three statements, all of which (if you are Christian) are true:

1. Evil exists.

2. God is all-powerful.

3. God is good.

In order to reconcile ourselves, one of these statements has to go. Now, evil does exist; we see it all the time, so we can't readily discard that. That leaves the last two. Strike away #2, and you reach a heresy known as Manicheanism, which supposes that God is counterbalanced by the Devil - the two are coequal in power. But, strike away #3, and you have a capricious, all-powerful ogre on your hands.

Back in 2001 Christian leaders (at least the bigmouthed, smallbrained variety) blamed the 9/11 attacks on God, saying that it was God's punishment for having feminists, gay and liberals running around in America. After the earthquake and tsunami in 2004, similar points were raised because the 200,000 or so dead people weren't Christians.

And in 2005, there was Katrina.

I'm fairly convinced that there is no deity superintending us; every good thing and bad thing is the result of randomicity and contingency. The bad things hurt more, but they can teach us valuable lessons.

And maybe we can learn, and advance beyond the need for tribal totems.

Monday, June 04, 2007

You Can't Trust Anyone These Days ...

... not even your dominatrix. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Dominatrix accused of stealing $300,000
June 4, 2007 - 7:14PM

A dominatrix has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly stealing more than $300,000 from her brain damaged friend who worked as a "slave" at a Melbourne bondage centre.

Taran Whyte first visited the bondage and discipline establishment known as The Correction Centre, in Fitzroy, in May 1999 after her mother died and she was "desperately lonely". At the centre, Whyte befriended dominatrix Susan Shepherd, who allegedly stole $335,000 from her after she received a $483,500 inheritance.

Shepherd reserved her plea in the Melbourne Magistrates' Court today to seven counts each of theft and obtaining property by deception and was ordered to stand trial in the Victorian County Court. Police allege Shepherd gambled away hundreds-of-thousands of dollars of Whyte's money, which she had convinced Whyte to deposit into her bank account between April and October 2005. Money was allegedly transferred into Shepherd's account on several occasions in amounts totalling as much as $113,000.

In court today, Ms Whyte said she was a needy, submissive person who was often generous to friends so she could in effect buy their friendship.

She said eventually she began working as a slave at the centre and Shepherd moved into her house."We had a strong emotional bond. Physically, Susan and I didn't find each other attractive at all but emotionally we did," Ms Whyte told the court. "Susan once said to me: `You like to serve' - well I suppose I did, I like to be needed. I was not aware that Susan had a very different agenda and was basically feeding my need to be needed."

Ms Whyte, who suffers from brain damage as a result of heavy alcohol consumption, said she was aware of Shepherd's gambling problem before she received her inheritance. She said she thought Shepherd was having trouble getting clients because younger women were more popular.

Shepherd told Whyte the money would be safer in her account and that she had invested $210,000 in property in the Port of Spain, the court was told.

She told police she spent the money Whyte transferred into her account on pokie machines.

Magistrate Peter Mealy ordered Shepherd to appear at the County Court for a case conference on July 30.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Let's Get This Straight ...

With the candidates from both parties preening themselves like cheap whores on a street corner trying vainly to attract a john, and with states falling all over themselves in a blizzard of one-up-manship in an attempt to be the first or earliest state to hold a fucking primary, I shall establish a few terms as a baseline:

The Democratic candidates I shall term The Pack of Hyenas, as all they are doing right now is snarling and snapping (more at each other than at anyone else).

The Republican candidates I shall term The Barrel of Monkeys, as all they are doing is screeching and flinging poo at each other right now.

I believe the Pack of Hyenas is going through the beauty pageant's talent competition (again, sigh) tonight on the Cocksucker News Network. I am definitely NOT watching it, nor will I watch The Barrel of Monkeys when their turn comes up.

It's way too early.

Saturday, June 02, 2007


The News Blog's page has gone dark, and with a heavy heart the team who have been running the site for the past few months have announced the death of the blog's editor and publisher, Steve Gilliard (1966-2007). He passed away at a New York hospital after a long illness.

Steve's writing style was a ferocious and literate attack on anything he saw that smacked of stupidity or injustice (NYC politics, race relations, the War and the criminal ineptitude of the Bush Administration). He was erudite, and showed his grasp of history went as deep as his knowledge of food.

Rest in Peace, Steve.

You'll be missed.