Friday, June 30, 2006

Hey, Teachers, Leave Those Kids Alone!

In about eight years they'll be old enough to rent a car. In four they'll be able to legally tip a pint of Guinness across the bar from me. In one they'll be able to vote. But, according to current US criteria, they're ready for military service right now.

Some high school students in New Jersey are getting a nudge to enlist in the military from their teachers, coaches and advisors. Who better to recommend a stint in the service than an authority figure who has been entrusted with the task of steering you toward a bright future?

In efforts to alleviate the ongoing recruitment shortage, New Jersey military recruiters have targeted school officials as the key to increasing youth enlistment. These educators are being treated to exciting rides in Black Hawk helicopters and hands-on high-tech weaponry demos, in hopes they will become unofficial military ambassadors to their students.

This is sort of like when a guy is not sure about buying a certain car, but the salesman knows if he can influence the guy’s wife, she’ll get him to buy the car. Sneaky motherfuckers.

I am one who believes military recruiters have no place in high schools. They have no place calling and otherwise harassing kids (who should be worrying about pimples and homework rather than national service) with vague, disingenuous sales pitches about "great opportunities."

What's surely missing from the recruiters’ spiel is any mention of the realities of military service today. No mention of beheadings of servicepersons in Mufaraji. No mention of things like "stop loss" and "recall to active duty." In other words, what’s missing is the whole truth.

High school kids are too young for the service, and, unquestionably, go into it half-blind more often that not.

A while back I was getting popcorn at a movie theatre concession stand. The attendant was a girl of about 18, pierced navel, flashy clothes and the whole thing. While getting my snack she was talking to another guy, and mentioned something about possibly being "deployed to Iraq."

That stunned me. I pictured this kid, who should maybe have a cell phone on her hip, but certainly not a sidearm, in a world of shit in Iraq. This was not long after the whole beheading/dismemberment craze started over there.

I wondered just what it was that made her choose to give her young life to the military. And I hoped that if she ever were deployed, she'd come back with everything intact, hopeful young mind included.

Recruiters are aware that most high school kids are not yet old enough to enlist. But they want to foster the kids’ interest early, and perhaps even get them to sign a delayed entry agreement, meaning they'll promise to join once they are old enough.

Tobacco companies are not permitted to market to kids. They can't go to schools and say, "We know you're not old enough to smoke now, but we'd like you to promise that once you are you'll smoke one of our brands." Nor should other merchants of death, like the military, be able to do that.

We are brazenly inconsistent in how we regard young people in the United States. When it comes to "privileges" (see first paragraph) they are just kids; when it comes to "responsibilities" (i.e. things we want from them) somehow they instantly become adults. The institutions of this country readily loosen up their standards when it benefits them.

We don't want teens to drink or smoke or fuck because we just can't stand the thought of those young, innocent people doing such horrible things, but we don't mind encouraging them to take up arms and put their young lives in harm's way for something that is only occasionally for a good cause. That's just sick.

I called "bullshit" on this when I was a teenager, and more than 20 years later it still stinks like acres of manure. But it steams me even more now - even more than one of k9's infamous hot browns - since the "relative" peace of the 80s (Grenada, Panama, etc.) gave way to sustained bloodshed.

Using kids as IED fodder is wrong; it's inarguable. Deceiving them about it is right there next to it on the wrongness scale. Treating them like kids in the same breath is the icing on our immoral, hypocritical cake, which we are obviously having and eating, too. Shame on us.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The Great Grilled Cheese Conspiracy

There is discrimination written right into the menus of dining establishments across America, and I'm not going to stand for it anymore.

I'm talking about what I call the "Great Grilled Cheese Conspiracy."

The aforementioned establishments have conspired to keep grilled cheese sandwiches out of the hands of adults, instead reserving them for kids 12 and under. I think these dastardly, discriminatory dining dictates are crap.

Look for grilled cheese on a menu, and if it's there at all, it's under a notice reading "Ages 12 And Under Only, Please." Well, since you said "please," I'll just say this... "Hell no!"

I'm obviously not talking about "fine" dining establishments here, but more reasonably priced fare. I'm not a fancy eater. Obviously.

Who decided grilled cheese was a meal not suitable for adults? As a kid I never touched the stuff; I only acquired the taste as an adult.
I suspect the restriction is due to the fact it's cheap and they want to make more money off adults, personal tastes be damned.

Yeah, you can ask them to make an exception for you (my diet is somewhat limited), but if they're willing to do so they'll at least make you feel ridiculous first.

There are some notable exceptions to the discrimination policy, and they are to be commended. But they are rare. I seek to change that with the following declaration:

I demand the right to enjoy greasy, melted cheese on bread, whether it be pizza, a quesadilla or plain old grilled cheese, in any applicable dining establishment I wish, unfettered by any arbitrary ageist restrictions or attitudes. I just like the stuff, ok?

American restaurateurs, you have been put on notice. Don't make me fake a choking incident and have to sue your asses.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Death By COBRA

My current job is a temp position, so I'm not eligible for any insurance benefits from the company. That's left me with the options of either seeking private insurance, or going on COBRA coverage through my former employer.

I chose both. That is, I've applied for private insurance, and while I'm waiting to find out if I've been accepted (six to eight weeks), I've begun paying for COBRA coverage.

Though I'm relatively young and healthy, private insurance is no sure thing. They ask for documentation of every time you've coughed since birth. I filled out 20 pages of application paperwork full of many, many stipulations. It seems as though they're just looking to find a "t" uncrossed somewhere and reject me.

With COBRA, I enjoy the privilege of continued medical and dental insurance (we don't want any insurance gaps - woooo!!!) at just three times the normal monthly premium. That's a pretty penney.

It's absurd that people without full-time employment actually pay more for health insurance than full-time workers do. Those who make less pay more - a bloody brilliant idea! It's like tax reform on prescription steroids, paid for out-of-pocket.

So when I hear political wrangling about insurance issues in the media, all I can think is, who will save me from this deadly, venomous COBRA?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Protecting The Flag: A Burning Issue

The US Senate is planning to run a law against flag burning up the pole this week to see how many lawmakers salute.

The vote is expected to fail. And it should.

The flag burning law is much like the proposed gay marriage ban amendment: wholly unnecessary. It seeks to protect something that doesn't need protection.

I should make it clear I don't support flag burning. The symbolism of such an act is lost on me, as I ceased worshiping that American idol years ago. But if others want to do so it's not my place to interfere. There is a difference in not supporting something and actively campaigning against it, no matter what some angry consternatives say.

As I see it, there are two elements to the flag:

The physical. The material. This is the thing you buy in the store.

Flags aren't typically free. Well, sometimes the little ones are, but I'm talking about the full-sized ones that people salute. When you buy a flag it belongs to you. It's an article of commerce like any other. So while the flag may belong to all of us, this flag belongs to you.

If you buy a lamp and then take it home and smash it to pieces, whose business is it? Admittedly, that'd be kind of psycho, but not criminal.

The patriotic. This is a thing you can't buy. And this is where the contention begins in earnest.

People have died for the US flag over the years. People hold the flag precious and sacred. They don't want you messing with it. Problem is, by outlawing flag burning you're legislating a belief. You're saying, "This is important to me, so it has to be important to you, too - under penalty of law."

A lot of people hold crucifixes in high regard. That doesn't enable them (so far) to prevent a Satanist buying one and affixing it to his dining room wall upside down. He doesn't see the object the same way, and he doesn't have to.

Now Bogs, you say, what about all those radicals overseas burning US flags? Don't you want to take a symbolic stand against them? Well, symbolism is the issue here. They can destroy the cloth, but that shouldn't destroy its value for anyone who holds it dear. There are more flags where that came from, anyway.

You also have to consider the source of some of these flag burnings, like those overseas radicals I mentioned. Some of them kill and destroy over the Sunday comics, for God's sake. There's no sense in most of their actions, so just take that as some small comfort.

The best bet for anyone who wants to outlaw flag burning is probably to pursue some "unlawful incendiary display" statute - not specific to flags - that addresses the danger of lighting things on fire in public places. But that'd never pass on a national level; it's more the kind of thing you see in local statutes.

I do hope Congress stops taking symbolic election year stands and gets on to important, impactful issues soon.

Monday, June 26, 2006

It's Not A Purse, I Swear!

I bring lunch to work with me. It's usually some small frozen meal; work has an arsenal of like 30 microwaves. (Funny, I don't recall seeing a pacemaker warning. Hmm.)

My lunches require refrigeration, so although I can put them in a fridge at work, I have to transport them in an insulated cooler. For some reason I chose one of those soft ones so many people own.

The thing works like a charm. Cold or frozen items are in same condition when I arrive at work, so no problem there.

The "issue" the cooler creates is: I feel awkward walking around with it. It's a soft material, and it's got a rounded top with a handle. There's just something a little too purse-like about it.

I feel as if when I'm carrying it around other people - women especially - I want to hit the deck and start blasting my delts with pushups, or shoot an animal, or offer to open a jar of ketchup for them. Anything to make me seem more manly while toting my lunch purse.

Maybe I'm just projecting. Maybe people aren't looking at me. Maybe they aren't thinking, You just know he's got Evian, sliced avocados and some California rolls (sushi) in that thing.

But maybe they are. So I've tried to develop some ridiculous new strategies for preventing any misconceptions.

For instance, I've tried carrying the cooler in ways other than by the handle, like by its end, so the handle is facing forward, or by resting it flat in my hand. All the sexual ambiguity is in the handle, you see.

I guess I just need to do one of two things: Become secure in my lunch-style choices, or get a new cooler with, like, pictures of power tools and shit on it.

Yeah, I think I'll skip out to my car and go get a new one.

PS: F13 is now up.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Abortion Law Temporarily Aborted

South Dakota's "no abortions, no exceptions" law (aka the "Uncle Fucka Law") will get another chance to be aborted by the citizenry of that state.

The law, passed by the South Dakota Legislature, was set to go into effect on July 1, but challengers have gathered sufficient signatures to put the issue before voters on the state's November ballot.

Gee, now there's a democratic idea - let the people decide!

Had the ban gone into effect as scheduled, the instances of inbred preemie babies born to jailbait girls would have been way higher than normal for South Dakota. Way.

Voters male and female will make the decision for all of the state's women in November. Let's hope the, um, bastards make the right decision.

Above, a confused protester uses a free speech
demonstration tactic at a pro-life rally

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Saddam On Trial Part VIII: Defenseless Defense Lawyers

Khamees al-Ubaidi, lead defense lawyer for Saddam Hussein during his current trial, was kidnapped and shot to death earlier this week in Baghdad.

Iraqi officials have narrowed the likely suspects down to three or four billion people.

Imagine if a Johnnie Cochran or an Alan Derschowitz had been kidnapped and murdered during the OJ trial. On second thought, don't - it's too much of a turn-on.

As much as I don't care for people who defend scoundrels as part of "just doing their jobs," I can't see any sense in this at all. Saddam will get new - and very brave - lawyers, and his trial will continue.

Essentially, people who ostensibly want to see Saddam brought to justice may have just delayed that very thing from happening.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Coalition Of The Dwindling

Japan may not be leaving the IWC anytime soon, but their 600 troops are leaving Iraq within weeks.

The announcement means Japan will be joining other members of the "coalition of the won'ting" such as Italy in cutting and running from the terrorists. At least, by contemporary US political standards, that's what they're doing.

The US-led coalition forces have said that as Iraqi forces stand up, they'd stand down. Iraqis are now taking over from the Japanese. One wonders what the contingency plans are for when coalition members step out.

The ever-tenuous situation in Iraq is not going to get any easier with fewer personnel on hand to deal with it. So tell me, Dear Leader, what's the plan for filling the gap? Or would admitting we don't have one be giving too much away to the enemy?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Shame On The Shamu Killers

Japan, which has continually subverted an international ban placed on whaling 20 years ago, has been slowly gaining clout within the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the body that put the ban in place. It's done this in part by getting numerous small countries, some without direct access to an ocean, to side with it on the commission in exchange for financial incentives.

This week the IWC held a vote to end the whaling ban, and while supporters were shy of the 75% margin needed to do so, they did garner a considerable 50%+ showing for their side. Japan likely knew they would not yet overturn the ban, but, like those American consternatives who recently tried to push through a gay marriage amendment, they did it to publicly reaffirm where they stand on the issue.

Japan's influence in the IWC has an analogue to Republicants' influence in the US. After years in the minority, the latter regained control of the US government, and began to bring to fruition what many people had long feared. They looked upon the beauty of nature and could only see its profit potential - as in the case of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and too many others to mention.

Both parties share the goal of gutting (in Japan's case, there is a literal dimension to this) longstanding, sensible protections of our natural world at the behest of big business. Both need to be prevented from doing so.

Japan is by no means starving; they are merely eager to find something else to put on a bun and sell in a fast-food joint. Much of the whale meat Japan now acquires through a shady "research" loophole in the ban ends up commercially available - i.e. sold for profit - in Japan's restaurants and grocery stores. Apparently the research was regarding how to commoditize another part of nature.

Japan is joined in this "vital research" by Iceland. Norway makes no pretense of conducting research, and continues to kill whales despite the ban. But it's Japan that's clearly steering the IWC ship back in the direction of our mammalian cousins. (Where is a pilfered Klingon ship when you need one?)

Some of the IWC countries voting with Japan are popular Caribbean tourist destinations, and there has been some talk of boycotting travel to those locales. As they know where their bread and butter comes from, some of the countries have already labeled such a boycott "economic terrorism." Terrorists being the popular villain of the day, you see, it's "in" to call anyone with whom you disagree a "terrorist."

It's like the Hitler thing, where political enemies are compared to Hitler. Exactly like the Hitler thing, actually, in that it's a bunch of shit. If tourists who decide to skip the Caribbean are really terrorists, so was Rosa Parks and the bus-boycotters she inspired. And we know that wasn't the case. Nope, the Caribbean contingent are just smoking too much ganga. Or maybe too little. Blaze that shit up, mon.

There's no real call to action from me here; I merely wanted to make others aware that bloody atrocities may soon be widespread on our oceans once again, and to register my disapproval. As when I took Canada to task for hunting seals and China to task for eating dogs, I expect and welcome comments about my cultural ignorance, the plentiful supply of animals, etc.

Oh, I do feel so very ashamed for my compassion.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dems Take Mr. Jefferson To The Cleaners

Call it midterm election year posturing if you will, but Democrats have removed embattled Rep. William Jefferson, D-Louisiana, from his post on the House Ways and Mean Committee.

Jefferson is being investigated on allegations of bribery, so his continued presence on the committee would reflect poorly on the party, election year or not. I'm glad some Democrats care about that; Republicants seemed so intent on keeping Tom DeLay in his post that they preemptively loosened their ethics rules just to accommodate his imminent indictments. Nice try.

But, regrettably, there are some similarities in the two scandals. Tom DeLay alleged DA Ronnie Earle's political aims were responsible for his woes, and Jefferson is blaming Nancy Pelosi's political aims for his. I'd hoped for better in the latter case.

When you use your office to do illegal or unethical things, it's your own fault. Your own lies and/or conceit keep you from acknowledging that.

There have been some allegations of racism by Jefferson, an African-American, and his supporters. That's unfortunate, because you should always wait until you actually see a wolf to cry "Wolf!" lest the value of making such a claim be thenceforth diminished. That goes for Rep. McKinney, too.

The race card should not be played so readily. It cheapens the struggles of those who actually are/were victims of racism. In Jefferson's case, it's a knee-jerk reaction that distracts from the facts.

If there is a cancer on the body politic, and it is connected to the duties of office, have it out. That's the principled thing to do. You may have ulterior motives in doing so (e.g. covering your party's ass), but it's still the right thing to do.

We're still waiting on the right to do the right thing.

PS: The new Fragmentia 13 is up.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Dangerous Mother-Truckers

I drive quite a long distance to get to my current job, and encounter many, many large trucks along the highway. These things have come to epitomize danger on wheels for me of late.

Yesterday, for the second time in a week, a large chunk of truck tire tread came hurtling at my windshield and hit it with disturbing force. The window is still in one piece, for now.

I've seen trucks travelling along as one of their tires shreds to pieces, flinging heavy rubber in all directions and sending surrounding vehicles scattering to avoid a collision. The truck drivers are seemingly unaware this chaos is happening, even though it often takes several minutes to shred a large tire bare.

Many of these trucks can travel along unaffected by the loss of a tire; they have 17 others to keep them on the road. And again, they're so big and loud, their drivers may not even be aware what's happening.

There are some truck drivers who are very aware about the trouble their trucks are causing, because they address it right on the outside of the vehicles.

Gravel-hauling dumptrucks, a rock from one of which once broke my windshield just a week after I bought my car, invariably have a sticker reading:


Hey chief, I'm not sure that's correct. I think all vehicle operators are required to secure their payloads. I'll have to check the state statutes, but while I do, here's my sticker for you:


Who do these assholes think they are? If a piece of your vehicle (or of its cargo) comes loose and damages someone or something, you may well have to answer in court, bucko. So put that in your Confederate flag and burn it!

The wheels of commerce will keep spinning, and indeed they must. It's just unfortunate that they'll keep on flinging dangerous crap at us in the process.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Who(m) DUI You Think You're Fooling?

An open letter to Rep. Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., who just pled guilty to driving under the influence (DUI) of an intoxicant...

Paddy, me boy, I enjoy the drink meself, but I also know that after a few pints of the bitter it’s designated driver time. You should know that too, lad.

Don’t go giving the long shillelagh of the law a reason to rap you on the knuckles that'd put Sister Mary Elephant's skills to shame. And don't go making excuses that medicines to help you sleep and make your belly feel better caused you to crash your car, stumble around, speak incoherently and try to unlock the gate to someone else's home while the cops were waiting.

I mean, yeah, the stuff can make you drowsy, but I'm not going to use my melatonin as an excuse for bad driving. Surely "temporary demonic possession" (TDP) would better explain that to the arresting officers. But you were stocious, mate. Fluthered. Stonkered. Hammered. A few jars too many. You're a Kennedy, for Christ's sake; it's in your genes.

So, now you'll pay the fines and do the AA thing. One bad decision behind the wheel doesn't mean you're an alcoholic, but just humor the people, ok? It could be much worse.

As for what this incident may do to your future in public office: No worries, you still may be president one day, just like your uncle, and stop the Venezuelan Missile Crisis. Hell, a DUI didn’t stop what’s-his-face from becoming a two-termer.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Kids Are Alright (The Adults Are Another Story)

Monday I wrote that Congress and the FCC have kicked broadcast indecency where it hurts with hefty new fines.

I’m not a parent myself, but I’ve never been able to fathom the standards some people set for their children’s viewing habits.

Take for instance some members of my family. Their kids are in their mid to late teens now, but when they were younger their folks made some curious viewing choices for them.

Braveheart. Honestly, this slaughter-fest is the favorite of just about every consternative I know, including my family members. So, they let their young kids watch it. I have a pretty high tolerance threshold for disturbing movies, but after viewing just a small portion of this movie I turned it off. Too much wanton violence.

Ok, it also put me off because it was an ego project for Mel Gibson, who directed and produced and starred as the heroic martyr, but that’s beside the point.

The rationale for allowing the kids to watch this movie was that it was “historical.” I should have brought over my copy of Quills, about naughty writer Marquis de Sade, for the kids to watch. Historical – French Revolution, legendary writer – but also quite risqué, as is befitting the subject. How do you think this historical dandy would’ve gone over?

The real story behind the historical criteria became transparent when the kids were also allowed to add The Matrix and Spawn to their collection: Violence of any era is ok, profanity is frowned upon but fleeting, and nudity/sex are big no-no's.

Against my advice they showed their kids the brutal Starship Troopers, thinking it was a Star Wars-type movie. They all enjoyed the action/violence/mayhem but, as I was told later, they fast-forwarded through "the boobies." There is a coed shower scene in there, to my recollection, and maybe a bedroom scene or two.

I took the kids to see Black Hawk Down with their parents’ blessing, but when I took one of them, by then 16, to see V For Vendetta, that was a different story. For the latter, when I explained what movie we were going to see, the concerned parent seemed wary about the subject matter and R-rating, but reluctantly allowed me to proceed. (It if had been called V For Vagina, it would have been a guaranteed non-event.)

Black Hawk Down was a true story about heroes of the American establishment, while V For Vendetta was a satirical yarn about an anti-establishment “terrorist.” Both were quite violent. Both movies left the kids relatively unharmed, I might add.

I enjoyed talking about V4V with the kids in particular, as it allowed me to point out that both Jesus and the soldiers of the American Revolution were anti-establishment. It’s easy for patriotic Christians to forget these facts.

I don’t think I will ever understand the “logic” in allowing children to watch people causing each other pain, while forbidding them from watching two people giving each other pleasure. I’m not suggesting one should intentionally show sexual content to kids, merely that 1) it’s hypocritical (and unfathomable) to find one acceptable and not the other, and 2) that the kids will probably be ok if they see a breast or two.

The ideology thing, though, I disagree with, but get completely. It’s about maintaining the status quo and not challenging traditional ideas about what constitutes a hero and what constitutes a villain (as in V4V). Bad cowboys wear black hats and good cowboys wear white ones. And that’s how some people like it.

The people I’ve described here surely welcome the new indecency fines, based on their track record. They are birds of a feather with our elected officials, who seem to be preoccupied with the evils of human flesh, but not on the evils of destroying human flesh. Why should those with such incomprehensible, hypocritical and self-serving standards determine what I can see on TV?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rove Dodges Bullet, Nation Faces More Bullshit

It looks like presidential adviser Karl Rove won't be facing any charges related to the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. Suddenly I hear millions of anxious Republicants sighing in relief.

What I'm wondering now is that, since Rove is no longer in the hot seat, will the White House be willing to answer questions about him?

As you may recall, ever since Rove's involvement in the leak was made public, the White House has been tight-lipped. Standard operating procedure has been to say that any question with Rove's name in it allegedly (and conveniently) referred to an "ongoing investigation," and that he (then, White House spokesman Scotty McClellan) wasn't going to comment until the investigation was complete.

Ok, so now it's apparently complete. Here's the question at least one reporter asked that should now be answered:

Regarding President Bush's knowledge of what Rove may or may not have done, did the president ever just ask Rove if he had any involvement in the Plame leak? He sees the guy at work every day, after all.

My prediction about any questions current spokesman Tony Snow may now be asked about Rove is that we'll hear something like:

"Mr. Rove has been exonnerated of these baseless charges... old news... ready to move forward... valued member of the president's staff... looks forward to continuing his work with the president... blah blah blah..."

We'll hear all that in one form or another from Snow and possibly from Rove himself, but not a direct answer to, say, that question about what Bush and Rove may have discussed about the Plame matter.

How it works is, during an investigation the White House simply "can't talk about it." Once that's done it's "old news," so why bother talking about it. Clever, eh?

The president and his team hedged their bets and won. They stalled and never had to acknowledge anything damaging about Rove, no matter how true. Let it never again be said "obstructionism" is an exclusive tool of the left.

UPDATE: A few other sites are asking the same question.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Indecent Priorities

Well, Congress finally got something done. That's what happens when partisanship is set aside and lawmakers work together toward a common goal.

Congress' "accomplishment" was a new bill to increase broadcast indecency fines to protect the tender sensibilities of the American people. There's nothing like a little "wardrobe malfunction" or four-letter-word to get Congress off its ass and into action. I feel cleaner already.

The bill, which will raise the maximum fine for airing "indecent" content to ten times its current amount, garnered 379 yeas and 35 nays from Congress. That's almost every Democrat and Republicant voting the same way. Amazing.

All that's left now is for President Bush to sign the bill, and he undoubtedly will. He needs a win now and then.

I'm thrilled our elected officials have tackled issues such as energy, healthcare, national security, the deficit and presidential malfeasance, enabling them to give such strong attention and support to a fringe issue. They've really earned those six-figure salaries this year!

Pathetic turds.

Though Congress is finally united on an issue, and actually accomplishing something, it's unfortunate that this something amounts to nothing when so many legitimate issued remain unresolved.

Only in America.

PS: This week's Fragmentia 13 is now on the air.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ding-Dong! The Dickhead's Dead

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has finally felt the big “owie.” Yup, it’s been confirmed by physical evidence that the man and his closest aids all bit the big one thanks to a pair of 500-pound bombs. Props (no pun intended) to the US flyboys who dropped them.

Al-Zarqawi is – I mean was, and it’s nice to speak of him in the past tense – the guy who started the beheading craze in Iraq. He‘s believed to have performed some of them himself; the cowards in those grotesque videos were always masked, so we can’t be sure.

By now al-Zarqawi & Co. have no doubt met the Virgin Nazi: “No virgins for you!” (The afterlife’s a bitch, eh?) Al-Zarqawi is no marytr, he's merely maggot-fodder.

I was in Dublin when the gruesome dead pictures of Odai and Qusai Hussein hit the media. This time my surroundings aren’t so memorable, but I will be drinking a few pints to mark the occasion (and also as a belated tribute to the late Billy Preston, who’s left this planet for outta space).

It's not in my nature to feel joy at the death of another human being. However, al-Zarqawi and his pals don't qualify for that designation.

Note: It was after I titled this post that I found this one. I'm no James Frey.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

This Post Has No Title (Just Words And A 'Tude)

Just when you think Ann Cun, err, Coulter has said the most inappropriate thing ever, she puts out a new book and draws attention to it with a real whopper.

According to Coulter, several women who lost their husbands in the 9/11 attacks are “witches” who are really enjoying their fame and wealth.

It would never occur to a cretin like Coulter, but I imagine any of those women would give up everything they’ve gained as a result of 9/11 if they could have their loved ones back.

They never chose the spotlight, they were merely unlucky enough to have family members caught in one of the biggest, most infamous tragedies in history.

Naturally, they drew the media’s attention. And, naturally, they earned money from 9/11-related lawsuits, though whatever the amount, it can’t possibly be enough.

It also seems
not to have occurred to Coulter that it's hypocritical of her to criticize anyone profiting from someone else's suffering, as that's what the shrill, tactless hack does herself. Her books and public appearances make her plenty of money, and anyone unfortunate enough to read or hear her words surely suffers nausea and other ill effects.

I suspect Coulter has an issue with the fact that these women so selfishly pushed for the creation of the September 11 Commission, which President Bush and other prominent conservatives opposed it. Damned truth and accountability! Sometimes they are so, as a recent film suggests, inconvenient.

No, those women aren’t witches, they’re widows. Got that, bitch?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Inside The Iran Incentives

Several Western countries, including the US, have put together an incentive package to offer Iran in exchange for that country curtailing its nuclear ambitions. The details are here.

So far the Iranians like what they see, but given their track record we have no reason to ululate just yet.

Some proposals which were rejected by the participating countries before the final draft was submitted are listed here:

· Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was to be supplied with a new Lexus, outfitted with complete gold package, moonroof, leather seating and XM satellite radio, every year for the remainder of his presidency.

· Kelly Clarkson was to agree to give a special performance at Ahmadinejad’s kid’s birthday party.

· Ahmadinejad was to be told in advance how the upcoming seasons of 24, Lost, Desperate Housewives and his other favorite shows will end.

· The Iranian people were to be given an unlimited supply of American blue jeans, Elvis Presley records, cigarettes, chocolates and stockings.

· The US was to facilitate the handover of former US President Jimmy Carter to Iran for trial on charges of aiding the late Shah.

· Alternately, Iran was to be given an amount equal to all the profits - adjusted for interest and inflation - from Georgia peanuts sold worldwide during President Carter’s term of office.

· All Texas oil operations were to be shut down and outsourced to... Iran!

· A Flock Of Seagulls were to allow unlicensed use of “I Ran” by the country as its new national anthem, because that song is way cool.

· Iran was to be allowed to annex the neighboring country of Iraq, provided they “keep those crazy muthas, err, mullahs in line.”

· President Bush was to agree to stand before the UN and say that Ahmadinejad is "the man!"

· The iconic Yankee Stadium was to be renamed "Alltel Wireless Presents Ayatollah Khomeini Memorial Field."

It's still unclear why these concessions were rejected, though there is speculation that the US opposed having to bear such a large portion of the burden.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Disturbing Revelations For 06.06.06

On this Sixth day of June, of the Year Naught Six, I reflect on natural and manmade calamities, some of which you might say rise to the level of “biblical proportions.”

All profoundly altered my view of the world in general and of my own country in particular. Some revealed a side of us I never wanted to believe existed.

On 9/11/01 the sky roared and rained fire and human bodies down on us. This is some of that “biblical proportions” stuff I was talking about – much more to come on my 9/11/06 blog.

This happened, allegedly, because some fanatical religious people hated America and our “policies” so much that they felt we had to suffer in a big way. No detail was spared in the planning of this cataclysm, nor innocent life spared in its execution. (I almost forgot - there are no innocents among infidels.)

Oh, and it happened because a handful of nuts were able to get box cutters on a plane. That’s all it took to knock America off its feet, at least for a time. God, we suck!

So we eventually undertook an ill-conceived conflict in the Middle East (more biblical stuff) that was a detour from our original, legit mission over there: Get the fuckers who did the deeds I spoke of in the last few paragraphs.

Last time I checked, Osama was still running around taunting us whenever the mood strikes him, and the Taliban and Al Qaeda were still in business, albeit from mobile headquarters.

Oh, but we got Saddam! He's Han Solo encased in carbonite in Jabba's lair. Quite a trophy.

We strayed from our payback mission, and were inexcusably unprepared for our new operation.

I guess we get the war we have, not the one we might want or wish to have
. Destroy the infrastructure, disband the army, leave the gates open to the coyotes and send our people out in tin cans on wheels with no armor.

Not all those people are innocent, though. Those who carried out torture and killings on prisoners or civilians went seriously off mission. They’re Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, sitting amongst the severed heads of the natives. The horror. The horror.

The horror was very much my own; I honestly didn’t think we were capable of such base acts, especially in the 21st century. I was naïve, now I’m ashamed and disillusioned.

9/11 leads to Abu Ghraib: Evil truly begets evil.

Hurricane Katrina was a domestic disaster that was almost equal parts natural and manmade. We can’t control the weather, but we can plan, we can act, and we can care.

What I saw in the aftermath of that storm was many of the most disadvantaged, vulnerable people in this modern, sophisticated country of ours bundled together under ratty blankets and sleeping on asphalt for days on end. Others were just floating motionless down rivers that were once streets.

What I heard from many fellow citizens was that those idiots should have just hopped in their cars and checked into a four-star hotel somewhere inland before the storm. It was their own damn fault they were in this situation now. The words “poor,” “homeless,” “elderly” and “infirm” just don’t translate for some.

Evil is not cursing, fornicating, drinking and carrying on. Those are trifling details in the big picture.
Willful ignorance, indifference, hate – these are the evils that create disasters, or exacerbate them. How's that for a revelation?

The locus of evil is right here on earth, where misguided inhabitants make bad decisions that
immeasurably impact others every day, not with some mythological devil.

If we’re ever going to turn this thing around, we’ve got a hell of a job ahead of us.

Insert: The Last Judgment by Jan van Eyck
(My brothers used to scare the crap out of me with this image when I was young.)

More on van Eyck
Whoa, bitch, that kid ain't mine!

Monday, June 05, 2006

A Marriage Amendment Not Made In Heaven

It must be getting close to election time. That's the only explanation I can think of for why some politicos are once again pulling out the divisive, ridiculous issue of a gay marriage ban amendment. (We last heard about it around the '04 elections.)

President Bush and Pennsylvania commuter resident/Republicant Senator Rick Santorum - both men notably embattled even within their own party - are among the prominent officials looking to write bigotry into the US Constitution.

Thus far amendments have been added to the Constitution only to expand or protect rights, not to restrict them. Radical consternatives are now looking to make history by changing that tradition.

This is a bad, bad idea about which I have sufficient faith that the American people will one day look back upon with embarrassment. Some of us already feel that way, of course.

Imagine if a Jesse Helms, George Wallace or Strom Thurmond had been able to shoehorn an amendment restricting the rights of "nigras" to vote or own property into the Constitution back in the 60s. A shocking thought, that - at least nowadays.

I'm sure those individuals are/were racists, but I don't know what guys like Bush and Santorum are. Undoubtedly homophobes, but in supporting an amendment they are also likely trying to appeal to their far-right constituents. You know - the type who would actually vote for a Helms, Wallace or Thurmond.

What no one who supports a gay marriage ban seems to be able to do is put succinctly why such a ban is necessary. They talk in broad strokes about "harm to the foundations of our democracy" and the tradition of matrimony in America meaning "one man and one woman."

Beware of anyone who can't give you verifiable specifics on something they feel so passionately about: They're undoubtedly full of shit.

I've been in situations where I'm surrounded by consternatives (family and their friends) talking on this issue, and only decorum (i.e. it's not my home) has stopped me from giving this theoretical example:

You're here with your wife, and you love each other deeply. Your marriage is "solid." Across town at this very moment two men are getting married. How is your marriage impacted by that union, to the extent you think changing the Constitution is necessary? Oh, I see, it's not harmful to you so much as it's harmful to society in general? Do elaborate. (See my "broad strokes" above for the continuation of this conversation.)

The discouragingly high divorce rate among straight people in the US is a real issue with quantifiable impact. Kids are often caught in a tug-of-war between their parents, who pit them against the other parent. People are destroyed financially and emotionally. It ain't pretty.

Straight marriage seems to be an endangered institution in the US - independent of any sexual orientation issues. Why don't we try to fix things that are broken, and leave the things that aren't alone?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Workplace Dirt (aka Attack Of The Clones)

Those who've read my blog with any regularity know that in recent weeks I've gotten a new job, albeit a temporary, part-time one. It beats the dole any day.

There are people and situations in this job that seem strangely familiar; they have parallels in my former workplaces. I think back and realize the names and faces have changed but the people are essentially the same.

Like this interesting group that sits just over the divider from me.

These folks are a lively bunch. Translation: They're pretty noisy. They seem to always be having a good time, laughing and such, but I'm sure they get their work done. I'm jealous of them, to a degree, but I also sometimes have difficulty concentrating on my work.

There's one rather, um, outspoken African-American woman who's very nice, and quite funny. Oh, and she used to suffer horrible PMS, but birth control pills helped her.

How the hell do I know that? I'm one of many who heard it, I'm sure, across the five-foot-tall divider that separates she and I. She was having a discussion with a bleach-blonde (more identifying people by appearances - this Bogs must be prejudiced, the reader thinks, not realizing I am substituting these for names to protect the identities of those mentioned herein) whose cubicle is just across from hers.

The latter explained that she takes the pill to "regulate," and later made it known that she gets "plenty of protein" in her diet. The context of the diet comment, which was hinted at by the speaker's tone of voice, became clear after I heard the reactions of several men around her, ranging from delight to disgust.

I imagine the disgusted comments came from the two flamboyant gay men in that group. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) They seem pretty open about their orientation, and good for them! But, they're kind of loud in their effeminacy.

Being the new - and temporary - kid on the block, I dare not make any waves about these disturbances. It's not so much the content, though, as the volume and frequency of their conversations. Hell, this stuff is amusing, otherwise.

And it amazes me, too, because as I said, each of these people strongly reminds me of a person or persons with whom I used to work. I mean in terms of appearance, manner of speech and personality.

Maybe people do fall into basic "types." Or maybe the notion that everyone has a twin or a doppleganger somewhere is true. I don't know. But I do now know a few things I probably shouldn't (and so do you).

Ahh, thank Guinness it's Friday. That's all that's really important.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Is It Getting Hot In Here?

Al Gore's global warming film, An Inconvenient Truth, is doing reasonably well, but naturally has its share of critics. And not the Roger Ebert kind, either.

According to hurricane expert Bill Gray of Colorado State University, Gore "believed in global warming almost as much as Hitler believed there was something wrong with the Jews."

Gray's another ass who didn't get the moratorium memo: No more Hitler or Nazi analogies in public comments for at least a century or two. They're mostly incorrect and always offensive, whatever side they come from.

But Gray's lack of tact is not the topic here, it's global warming, a dismissive attitude toward which he shares with President Bush and many, many others.

Some say there's no evidence mankind is to blame for global warming, or that the jury is still out, or that global warming doesn't even exist.

Many on the "skeptics" side seem to have a vested interest in global warming being a hoax, like people connected to the petroleum industry. That's a little suspicious.

There is some evidence to support that many of man's "habits" are eating away at the earth's protective barrier and changing climates worldwide. The results could ultimately be catastrophic for all living things.

Here's how I see it: If we're wrong about global warming, what do we have to lose by developing alternative fuels, good conservation habits and strong anti-pollution policies?

If we're right about global warming and we don't change our direction, what then? When it comes to breathing, I'd prefer to err on the side of caution.