Sunday, April 30, 2006

Don't Make Me Tell You Again

This week's edition of Fragmentia 13 is the best ever. Seriously, you'll plotz! Check it out today, and every Sunday.

Friday, April 28, 2006

If I Were A Carpenter Ant, And You Were a Ladybug

If you could be anything other than human - and I realize some of you already are, what creature would you want to be?

For me this is more than a simple “get to know your psyche” question; I’ve genuinely thought about it and have come up with some sensible answers.

Birds

Birds have a big advantage in my view because they can live seamlessly in two environments
both the land and the air. Their literal ability of flight from danger is enviable.

Downside: Birds tend to be the Christian Scientists of the animal world. If you’re a young bird and you fall out of the nest, they leave you to your fate. Thanks, folks.

Turtles

Turtles also flourish in two environments – water and land. Their hard shells are formidable defense against their enemies. They get to spend lots of time at the beach! Oh, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja variety get to enjoy pizza.

Downside: Yup, they’re pretty slow, and fecked if they end up on their backs. And yup, it's Domino's.

Do you have a taste for the predator’s life? How does the idea of a prehensile tail grab you? Would you object to going without opposable thumbs?

Tell me.

PS: No unicorns or other chimeras, please.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Zarqawi Wowie: Webmasters Of Death

Al Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi appeared in a video posted on the Internet earlier this week, pledging his support for Osama bin Laden, mocking the US and threatening more attacks, yadda yadda yadda.

(I mean, how seriously can you take a guy who doesn't even know q is always followed by u?)

I guess it makes sense that terrorists would have their own Web sites, but it still seems so weird.

I’m trying to imagine the behind-the-scenes at their Web Central, and what it would be like to be a jihadist Webmaster.

Aziz: Hey, Ahmed, here’s that beheading video.

Ahmed: I’ll post it a little later. I’m defragging some of the network drives right now.

Aziz: Zarqawi said he wants it up ASAP.

Ahmed: You guys are breaking my balls here.

Do they have a bunch of tech guys running around with BlueTooth phones on their ears, who give the other guys crap about Web surfing and installing unauthorized programs? Talk about terrorists!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Snow Job: Fox News Now Unequivocally Bush Mouthpiece

Fox News has long been accused of shilling for Republicants and acting as a mouthpiece for the White House – claims they’ve always denied.

Their motto is “fair and balanced,” but that hasn’t fooled anyone.

How can we explain Fox News’ Tony Snow replacing Scott McClellan as the president’s spokesman? Fox can no longer deny at least one member of their team has close enough ties to the Bush administration to land a cushy job within it.

I’ll restate it succinctly – a guy from Fox News is now the mouthpiece for the president. Point made.

Snow has already out-Boltoned John Bolton by insulting his future colleagues, calling Bush “impotent,” “an embarrassment” and a “dime-store Democrat.” That last one especially… ouch!

But now Bush won’t have to worry about suffering any further such jibes from Snow. As the president’s spokesman Snow will continue Scotty’s work of speaking while saying nothing.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Projected Final Score: Lobbyists 1, American Taxpayers 0

After months of finagling the House of Representatives is set to vote later this week on legislation restricting lobbyists’ interactions with lawmakers.

By finagling I mean rethinking and watering down the most stringent elements of the proposed legislation. It’s been thoroughly gutted through the revision process, leaving it a big, stinking red herring.

Just as sure as the recent staff shakeups at the White House were meant to give the impression that Bush is ready for “reform,” this legislation is intended to distract the American public with a token act of reform in the House.

Sure, the president is cleaning house, but without sacking anyone with any real power it’s a meaningless gesture. Enacting toothless legislation is just as effective.

While many initially expressed shock and anger at the greed of Reps Randy “Duke” Cunningham, Tom DeLay and the like, many months have since passed, and the topic of the day has changed many, many times.

The bad news for Republicants is that more often than not it was some manner of blow to their ranks – NSA wiretaps, Dubai ports, Rummy’s woes, etc. The good news for them is that each of these successive stories buried lobbying reform a little deeper.

So, here we’ve got a distracted public with a short memory, and a GOP-controlled House that supports minimal reform.

A vote for the legislation as written will be a victory for lobbyists. Ordinary folks like you and I will never be able to compete with them as long as our wallets are small, and our elected officials are wanting of integrity.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Should You Kiss On The First Interview?

Last week I was once again reminded just how similar a job interview is to a first date.

Think about it: You put on your best clothes, and check your hair (if you have it) obsessively before the meeting. It’s all about making a good impression, right?

It can be a little awkward as you sit across the desk or dinner table from this person; you don’t always know what to say, or how to answer their questions. Those dreaded uncomfortable silences!

You look over at them as you talk and wonder if you’ll be seeing them again, or if this is a one-time thing.

A few days pass, and you wonder if they’ll call you, or if you should take the initiative to call them.

Finally you decide you'd better call, and you find out they have no interest in seeing you again. And you thought things had gone so well!

Anyway, wish me luck.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Free Breast Exams...

...and much more are available with today's new edition of Fragmentia 13.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Sympathy For The Devil II: Hu And Cry

When visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao was introduced before his speech today, the American emcee got the name of his country wrong.

And no, the emcee was not George W. Bush, though he was the co-headliner.

Instead of saying “the People’s Republic of China,” the sucka emcee said, “the Republic of China,” which actually refers to Taiwan and not the mainland. Who knew?

This incident reminds me of the following exchange:


“Are you the Judean People’s Front?”

“Fuck off! We’re the People’s Front of Judea!!!”

The speech was not without further controversy, as a Chinese protester interrupted Jintao’s speech by yelling for Bush to “stop him (Jintao) from killing.” She may just as well have been talking about Bush.

A Chinese protester plays “smell my finger” with the Secret Service.

The woman was arrested for disorderly conduct, and other more serious charges are being considered. I trust the irony of suppressing the speech of a Chinese national in the US while a Chinese leader is visiting isn't lost on a few others out there?

For his part, Jintao agreed to take questions, but only pre-approved ones. Apparently he and Bush are just like two snowpeas in a pod.

It's notable these incidents occurred despite months of careful planning for Jintao's visit. This should show both leaders - who each demand strict "control" over their people and environments - that human beings will always find a way to go off the script.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Libby, Andy, Scotty: It’s A Start

For an administration that still seems to be insisting “everything’s fine,” this White House continues to hemorrhage team members.

The latest casualty is Scotty McClellan, the president’s embattled press secretary, allegedly forced out by Josh Bolten, who recently replaced the departed Andy Card as chief of staff.

Libby, Veep Cheney’s former chief of staff, was forced to resign last year after being indicted on several charges related to the Plame Affair.

Scotty was the most visible of the departed players, as he took questions from the press daily. As revelations about Bush, Rove and others rolled out in fast succession, Scotty seemed to get fatter and sweatier. At times he looked like he was ready for a breakdown. It may have been an act of mercy nudging him out of his post.

Scotty’s true role was that of a goalie. He was tasked with making sure none of the opposing team – the press – scored any factual, substantive answers about anything going on within the White House. And he was rather good at it.

Just count how many times Scotty said “ongoing investigation” about Rove’s involvement in the Plame Affair, effectively stonewalling the press indefinitely. Then there were the contradictory statements and the old trick, the changing of the subject – when faced with an unpleasant but irrefutable fact, Scotty would simply attack Democrats for “playing partisan politics.”

All told, Scotty took a lot of grillings and a lot of bullets from the press, but like a good press secretary, he never gave in and “talked.” Bush must be very proud of him indeed.

Scotty was not the real problem in the White House, and that’s why he’s on his way out. He’s a plump sacrificial lamb whose termination is designed to give the impression that after years of abuse of office Bush is now interested in “reform.”

As part of the White House staff shakeup, Karl Rove has allegedly been demoted, and will now be focusing solely on this year’s midterm elections. As the McCain Lovechild/Kerry Swiftboat mastermind has always been tasked with smearing the other guy, this is hardly a demotion. He gets to keep his security clearance, by the way.

Secretary of Defense Donald “Rummy” Rumsfeld has been criticized by many high-ranking former military officials for his gross mishandling of the Iraq war. Allegedly he’s tried to resign over this and has been turned down by Bush; this is disingenuous, as no one can stop you from quitting a job. The president seems insistent on continuing the war with “the defense secretary we have.”

Rummy’s buddy Cheney is another albatross around the president’s neck. He not only shot a friend in the face, he shot his boss in the back by overseeing the aforementioned Plame Affair. He’s continually downplayed the Iraq insurgency, even as it has blossomed, and has contradicted himself many times in his public comments.

The recent personnel changes at the White House are welcomed, but misdirected. The real people pulling the strings still have a firm grip on them. It’s time for Rove, Rummy and Cheney to resign.

As for the president, if Congress does not censure or impeach him for criminal acts done under the cover of office (and it is not likely they’ll do so), he can still do the right thing and resign, too.

Or, preferably, surrender himself to the nearest Capitol Police officer or US Marshal for arrest and prosecution.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Lasting Piece In Northern England

The UK still may claim the six counties of Northern Ireland, which uses British pounds sterling instead of euros and flies the Union Jack, but they are slowly losing some of their own land to the Irish.

Not a drop of blood, and no car bombs, pub bombs, checkpoints or occupying armies have been involved in this conquest, however.

Instead, Irish investors are peacefully buying up property and businesses in England, Scotland and Wales.

It’s noteworthy that my source for this story, a British paper, calls this the “second Irish invasion” of Britain. That’s creative wording from a country that transplanted its people into Ireland, subjugated the locals, and ended up splitting the country into two parts, leading to decades of violence (aka “The Troubles”).

There is grand some poetic justice in the Irish taking the land out from underneath the British, and it’s nice to see them doing so without the strong-arm tactics of the British Empire.

I’ll tip a pint to that!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Iran: Beneath The Planet Of The Apes

The prospect of Iran with nuclear technology is frightening. Sure, they say they want it only for the peaceful generation of energy, but dare we buy that?

Iran is a country where extremist ayatollahs command the unquestioning, self-flagellating faithful, and the current president is a nutcase with the same taste for psycho-rhetoric as Hussein, Qadaffi, Marcos and Noriega.

Preferably, we’ll seek a diplomatic solution with Iran on the nuclear issue, though they insist they’ll continue with the development of a reactor.

How unfortunate that we focused on finding phantom WMDs in Iraq while their next-door neighbors were already at work on the technology to build real ones.

Even if we did have the resources to attack Iran, we sure as hell don’t need another war in the Middle East. The world doesn’t want it or need it.

If there were a way to enable Iran to create nuclear power with no chance of weaponization, maybe this wouldn’t be an issue. But then, Chernobyl wasn’t a missile plant and it did plenty of damage. All a nuclear plant needs to become deadly is a few misguided individuals.

Which brings me to the 1970 film Beneath The Planet Of The Apes.

In the second installment of the Apes film series, mutant humans possess the last nuclear bomb on earth. As the descendants of victims of a nuclear war, they know the bomb’s frightening power. So, like people do, they make the object of their fear a god and worship it.

They see the bomb as a holy instrument, which they will use in a war with the soon-to-invade apes. They show no hesitation taking someone else’s life or giving up their own for their beliefs. They can’t be reasoned with.

Literal worship of a nuclear bomb was a thinly disguised commentary on the arms race and mankind’s seeming obsession with self-destruction. And just a few decades later we’re in a situation in which a fearless, radical religious sect may actually get a hold of one of these dandies.

You know, people of the kind who shout praise to their god just before killing themselves and others. Should people like this be allowed anywhere near nuclear technology? Or even safety scissors, for that matter?

Now, before anyone throws a tizzy, I am not comparing Iranians to apes. Got it? Are we clear? OK. (In this scenario, in fact, Americans are the apes and Iranians are the mutants.)

What we have in Iran is essentially a radical theocracy that’s trying to develop nukes. Their ranks have a stated belief in holy war, in which there are no nonexpendable lives, including their own.

I don't think the people who developed the first atomic bomb for the US envisioned it getting into fanatical hands. We wanted to end a war quickly and, right or wrong, we did so.

No sooner had we used our big new toy than others naturally looked upon it with envious eyes. Now many others have one, and still
others are developing one. Hopefully none of us will use it to end a world quickly; that would definitely be beneath the human race.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Bogs Bares All

This past weekend the weather here was perfect, and I took advantage of it by relaxing poolside at a quiet, sunny location.

A nudist resort, to be exact.

Not a colony, mind you - ants and lepers live in those. (And don't let the word "resort" fool you; the place is really nice, but the day rate is very affordable. I'm not made of money.)

The same place where Paris Hilton got a "job" as a maid for her reality TV show is a short drive from my front door. But unlike that episode, there were no smiley faces covering anyone's flesh during my visit.

This was not my first jaunt there, nor my second. Nor my last.

For the uninitiated, yes, it's weird at first. Then after a few minutes you just settle in and go with it. I have a theory that some latent primal sense kicks in, as we are born au naturel, and we haven't always been quite so modest as a race as we humans
now tend to be.

What happens is the social paradigm suddenly flips to where you would actually feel awkward walking around clothed, as that's a sure way to stand out.

As I mentioned, this was a family destination. Nudity is more natural to kids than it is to adults; they don't know to be embarrassed about it until we tell them to be.

Nudist resorts are unapologetically biased against men, who often are not allowed in without a female companion. Women, on the other hand, may visit by themselves.

I know why they do this - to prevent gawkers - but I still disagree with the discriminatory policy. Come to think of it, though, if I ran such a place that's just how I'd want it, albeit for selfish reasons.

OK, the unisex locker room is kind of a peculiar experience. I attribute that vibe to the close quarters and to those many bad movies where guys go to great lengths to peek into the girls' showers. And here I am just walking right in the door!

There are apparently nudists of every age, though there seem to be fewer teens than any other age group. I imagine it could be awkward for them, as they're just getting used to their "new" bodies.

I note also with bafflement and slight amusement that people of every age and background have tattoos and/or piercings everywhere you can imagine. That straight-laced doctor of yours? Quite possibly. And your kids' teachers, too.

This one aspect did make me stand out somewhat among others. Alas, no body art - just really great hands, apparently. The rest of me ain't so bad, but naturally no cameras are permitted in the place. So, you just dodged a bullet.

I've been told by some questionable sources that I'm not too adventurous. Many of the same people who would chide me about not wanting to jump
out of an airplane or into the abyss with a large rubber band attached to my ankle, however, would say "No way!" to my weekend diversion. Wimps!

As I said, it becomes normal very quickly to be nude in front of strangers. So much so that readjusting to the outside world later feels odd. You get comfortable, but by the end of the day must accept that you cannot simply go on your way in that state of undress.

Extremely shy or modest people may understandably never want to visit a nudist resort. I don't see a big market there for, say, Muslims. But those who believe it's "immoral" or "shady" are sadly quite ignorant. And they have no idea what they're missing!

Seriously, what's the ideal way to swim or get some sun - clothed? Nope.

A bit of advice for anyone who ever does decide to grin and bare it all: It rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets a really bad sunburn everywhere the sun don't normally shine. As you can imagine. Yowch!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Brad And Angelina Sex Tape...

... is not available from this site, but you can link over to Fragmentia 13, which has a new edition today and every Sunday.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday Fish Façade

Today is Good Friday, the last time this Lenten Season Catholics will have the chance to impress God by ordering the Filet-O-Fish instead of the Big Mac.

My family didn't eat much seafood, so even though I was raised Catholic, I think my only adherence to the "fish on Fridays" rule was eating the fish sticks school provided at lunchtime.

Lent is a 40-day period denoting Jesus' 40 days wandering the desert before his crucixion and resurrection (Easter). And because of his suffering (bottled water and sunscreen had not yet been invented) and ultimate sacrifice, believers are asked to make sacrifices, too.

Lent is a noble idea, especially as it encourages some to give up smoking or other bad habits. But eating fish instead of meat on Fridays - what the hell kind of sacrifice is that?

First, fish is meat. Some can be forgiven (I guess) for not realizing this on their own, as even the dictionary is confused. (It says fish and fowl are not meat, and further down the same page says they are.)

Meat is animal flesh. Fish are animals, plain and simple. They're just "white meat" animals.

Second, giving up meat for a whole day a week is not exactly a sacrifice, is it? Come on, try a little harder, folks. Jesus faced the desert and the cross, and you think by using this little "fish is not meat" loophole that you're making a sacrifice? As if!

I've got a great suggestion for Lent for the church itself next year: Give up the bad habit of perpetuating your followers' ignorance about meat.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Speak To Me Only With Thine Fingers: Anatomy Of An Obscene Gesture

How do you say "F.U." using only your hand?

(OK, Aunt B, if you haven't already, you may want to navigate away from this page right now. It ain't purty.)

Depending on where you're from, it varies. Below are a few versions I've learned and used.

The first is "the finger" or "the bird." This is the one I learned growing up in New York.


This variant on "the finger/bird" is one that was more common when I moved to the South. It still looks weird to me, and is hard to do. Note how the forefinger and ring finger "bracket" the middle finger; this is allegedly a more "anatomically detailed" version of the non-verbal message this gesture is sending.


You can't watch British shows like Blackadder, Red Dwarf and The Young Ones without learning the "up yours" two-finger gesture. Turn your hand palm out, and this becomes the WWII British rallying cry, "V for victory," or the "peace" sign.


And finally, just to show I don't use my hands solely to make obscene gestures, here they are behaving themselves. This is what years of "soaking in it" will do for you.


Of course, there are many more obscene gestures. I think the Italians have cornered the market on them. But they involve more than just the hand.

I am curious to know if version 1 above is understood outside of the US, if version 2 is really regional US, and if version 3 is used outside Britain.

Do tell!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Mi Amigo, El Inmigrante

My contribution to the immigration debate, which is nowadays as much a national security issue as a labor issue, is a personal one.

I met “Pepe,” a Colombian exchange student at my high school, around 1984. We and other friends had many good times together before the sad goodbyes at the airport, when Pepe went home.

It was 15 years later when I heard Pepe was returning to the US. His young wife had died of cancer and he couldn’t deal with Colombia anymore. Partly because it was full of memories of his wife, and partly because of the volatile political climate.

In 2000 Pepe came to town, and it was if no time had passed. We both looked different, but resumed our friendship without pause. (He credits me for introducing him to U2 way back when, his favorite band until this day.)

We started hanging out, and as we were both seeking female company (many of our friends had gotten married since Pepe left), hit the town together on many evenings.

Women loved Pepe’s Latin good looks. He got whistled at from across the street. One woman, who was walking a few steps behind her boyfriend, winked at Pepe as she passed; her boyfriend had no idea. And once one walked up to Pepe and gave him her phone number at the start of their conversation.

It wasn’t all fun and games with Pepe, though. We
of course talked about his wife. He also told me of the guerillas who kidnap and kill people every day in Colombia. He reserved his rare curse words for them.

Pepe has since moved to another state, where he got a job and got married.

Earlier this year the INS “visited” Pepe early one morning, when his wife was off visiting her sick father, and hauled him away.

Pepe was in a detention center for many weeks – something so surreal to me I cannot picture – and was allowed only weekly visits from his wife.

There had been some miscommunication over Pepe's immigration paperwork, and a judge didn’t believe his marriage was legitimate, so Pepe was deported back to Colombia.

A few years ago Pepe told me he was concerned that as a member of the Colombian media (a radio personality, before he came left in 2000) he was a target for the guerillas, who often go after the media.

Pepe’s no terrorist, but we’ve sent him back to live among them.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

We Agree: Prez, Veep Got Some Splainin' To Do

Contrary to what Scott McClellan would tell you, it’s not just a handful of Democrats who want the president to explain why he's selectively “declassified” top secret information.

Pennsylvania Republicant Senator Arlen Specter has also said the American people deserve the whole story on leaks and declassifications emanating from one or another party within the White House.

While the president may have the authority to declassify information (not so on his alleged right to order illegal wiretaps), it’s the how and when that are really telling.

How? Through his staff, typically to the press. When? Whenever it suits his political ends. And this from a guy who’s "tough" on leakers.

US national security, which high-level leaks can compromise, is an issue which Republicans never fail to take political advantage of, even when there’s no election in the immediate future.

Criticisms of the president’s many missteps in the so-called war on terror have been met with accusations that the critics are aiding terrorists and endangering Americans at home and abroad.

Anyone can make a lot of noise in lieu of the facts, but here they are:

The Libby leaks, the now-dismantled Dubai ports deal, the willful dismissiveness toward pre-9/11 warnings about Al-Qaeda, the antagonizing of friend and foe alike by invading Iraq (and without adequate planning), and ultimately creating a breeding/training ground for terrorists over there, all point to an administration that doesn't grasp the concept of national security.

Republicants are in denial, but their president has damaged our standing in the world, and weakened and possibly bankrupted our military. Wow, I feel more secure already!

National security has traditionally been an area in which Republicants have whipped the pants off Democrats at the polls. Next time around, however, they may need to pull up their own drawers to cover their asses, and fast.

Monday, April 10, 2006

No Sympathy For The Devil

What's happened to the Rolling Stones?

Mick, Keef and the boys used to be the paradigm of rock and roll rebellion. Now look at them - shilling for a mortgage company and playing ball with the Red Menace. I guess maybe they "grew up." Or, "sold out."

Like Google and Yahoo, the Stones are so eager to gain access to China that they're willing to go along with Beijing's oppressive dictates.

For the legendary group, it's agreeing to chop a few of their most suggestive - and popular - songs from their live set, lest impressionable Chinese be corrupted by their decadent Western licentiousness. (They were under no such resrictions in Hong Kong a while back.)

China is a powerful country, and I have no wish to be on their bad side. But I've never been comfortable with the way we all seem to pretend that China's just like any other country. Tianamen Square may have faded fast like most news items, but it's still fresh in my mind.

The short story is, while China is taking on some traits of a "free" market, it's also the country with scores of abandoned baby girls, who are the victims both of the country's "one child policy" and of overly selective parents.

It's a country of Draconian laws, where trading porn can get you life in prison, and fraud can get you the death penalty (Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling are lucky to live in a country where this crime gets you a slap on the wrist, or sometimes a pat on the back).

Then there are those unfortunate dietary choices, which I won't go any further into.

So, I guess where the Stones may understandably not want to deprive a country's citizens of their music because of some disagreeable political policies (and also deprive themselves of hard-earned yuans), I can find no sympathy for the devil of an autocratic Chinese government.

I do sympathize with ordinary Chinese, who should be able to freely enjoy the Stones' music.


In the 80s it was the right thing not to play Sun City. I'm not so sure it's yet time to play the Forbidden City.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Wild, Hot Sex Party...

...has been cancelled, but be sure to check out the new edition of Fragmentia 13, today and every Sunday.

PS: NO SiteMeter active on F13!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Bring On The Reformation!

How the mighty have fallen. The Hammer is throwing in the towel, and Top Gun and Dishonest Abe are both headed for the big house.

Since master lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s seemingly immeasurable tentacles were revealed to be wrapped firmly around Congress, lawmakers have been scrambling to revise their lobbyist rules, or at least to give the impression that they’re keen to do so.

“Reform” is a word much loved by politicians, who use it in an almost politically correct, euphemistic way. It implies the desire to make things right, even if their actions are very wrong. See “tax reform” (aka “giving to the rich”) and “tort reform” (same) for examples.

The Republicant-run House Ethics Committee, which undoubtedly saw some indictments for its representatives coming down the pike, tried to change its rules to accommodate its ethically challenged members, but when Democrats cried foul the committee was forced to relent.

That does not mean they felt compelled to do their jobs, though. Unable to give bigwigs like Tom DeLay a "Get Out Of Jail Free" pass, they simply chose to go missing.

Of late this has been the modus operandi for the Republicant party, who have stood with their hands in their pockets as leaders have repeatedly broken the law and/or ethics rules. See "George W. Bush" and "Bill Frist" for examples.

Congress is only taking a stand now that there has been a public outcry.
Members should have been policing themselves all along; that is the meaning of integrity.

There are competing bills in the House and Senate designed to curtail the influence of lobbyists in the Legislative branch. But some are charging that Republicants keep trying to water down the rules; as the party in power, they have the most to lose from stricter regulations.

I expect these bills to be debated and rewritten until most real reform has been squeezed from them. When the story of the day changes to something else, lawmakers will feel the heat subside a bit, and will pass a token bill just so, come reelection time, they can say they "led the way" on reform on Capitol Hill.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Baghdadi Voters Have More Rights Than Big Easy Voters

Remember the joyous day when Iraqis voted with purple thumbs to elect their National Assembly? Iraqi expatriates and exiles living in the US were also permitted to vote here at special polling places.

New Orleans is set to hold a mayoral election later this month, and a federal court has ruled that the city’s hurricane-displaced residents, many of whom are still living in Houston or other cities, will not be allowed to vote at remote polling places (i.e. wherever they happen to be right now).

The displaced are primarily black, primarily poor and tend to vote Democrat, if at all.
A dispersed electorate, as they are now, is advantageous to Republicants as it dilutes the former's voting strength.

Some have suggested Republicants are looking to take advantage of the Hurricane Katrina aftermath to turn blue Louisiana (i.e. black and Democratic) into a red state.

The coming election could be the first step in that direction, as the displaced will lose their votes and their voices if nothing changes before April 22.

In addition to disenfranchisement, some bureaucrat deciding
not to rebuild neighborhoods that those displaced Democratic voters lived in, giving them nowhere to return, would be a further blow. And I've heard talk.

Someone tell the president: Send troops into New Orleans to restore democracy ASAP! It's in trouble here at home, too.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Reply Upon Receipts

On a recent foray to buy some birthday presents, I was reminded of an alarming trend at retail stores: The fast-growing dimensions of your everyday paper receipt.

Receipts are literally getting out of hand, as they're now too big to hold in just one hand. They’re getting wider and longer, and it doesn’t make a difference if you’re only buying one item and/or paying cash.

Note the sizes in the following pictures, as compared to US nickles and pennies, and Irish euros.

Exhibit A : One item totaling $1.06 cash, approx. dimensions 4.5”x12"


Exhibit B: One item totaling $13.64 cash, approx. dimensions 3.125"x14.875"


Where once you got the total purchase amount and maybe the date on a receipt, now they have surveys and contests in English, Spanish and Sanscrit. I imagine crossword puzzles, horoscopes and a Page 3 Girl can’t be far off.

For this trees are being chopped down? I just need a handy little piece of paper, not the Magna Carta or Dead Sea Scrolls.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

To Beatify Or Not To Beatify

That is the question some Catholics want answered with the affirmative, and soon. And they may get their wish any day now.

So revered was the late Pope John Paul II, who died just over a year ago, that his successor waived the usual five-year cooling-off period and put him on the fast-track to sainthood.

I don’t understand the hurry. What does sainthood mean to the deceased, a better seat in heaven?

The fervor with which some Catholics celebrate this man is pure idol worship, but Catholics have never shied away from idolatry or iconolatry.

The path to sainthood involves an investigation into miracles that can (somehow) be attributed to the candidate. Let’s just say the burden of proof for that is very light.

You had a headache on the day of JP II’s death, and felt better the next day: A miracle! It’s a stretch, but popular demand is a powerful motivator within the Catholic church.

JP II presided over the biggest of the big Christian religions, one whose tenets have little basis in the Bible (sacraments, sainthood, etc.), are often fallacious (celibacy of the clergy was originally a church land inheritance issue, not a spiritual one), and are dangerously archaic (contraceptives forbidden in the time of AIDS, overpopulation, etc.).

But while many of America’s prominent religious leaders are warmongers, some of whom extol the virtues of assassination, JP II was a lifelong peace advocate. He deserves props for that.

If JP II's face-to-face admonishment of President Bush over Iraq had led to any changes in the war strategy, it would've indeed been a verifiable miracle, and I would've personally campaigned for his sainthood while he was still around.

Alas.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Say Hello To My Little Friend (UPDATED)

Every day a small bird lands on my balcony and starts singing away. I enjoy hearing him as I type at my computer just a few feet away, and I believe he's a sign of good things to come.

He looks to be a male House Finch, so I've dubbed him "Finchy." (Online maps don't show this species in my part of the country, but Florida-specific bird books do list them.)


I snapped this picture of Finchy clandestinely, because he flies away when he spots me (I wonder if he's afraid my camera will steal his spirit?). He seems to be able to turn his head almost 180 degrees, so he's hard to sneak up on.

So tell me, dear reader, do you have a person, place or thing in your life like Finchy?


Another quick shot of Finchy, this time enjoying his new feeder.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Breaking: Up To 74 Feared Killed As BogsBlog Launches Spin-Off Site

This is no April Fool's Day joke. I'm launching a second blog, which will be kind of a catch-all for miscellaneous news bits, strange notions and other junk not worthy of a full-length post. It's blogging for today's short attention span!

Check out my new weekly posts at Fragmentia 13. You'll also find a link to Fragmentia 13 on the BogsBlog sidebar.

Enjoy!

Pete