The Elecktronick Tyger Roares
31 December 2005
  New Year silliness, from my friend, Cynthia Rose
Computer firework display over the New York Skyline.

Or, of course, you can go here for Cindy's homepage, chockfull of Good Stuff To Know if you're planning on visiting the British Virgin isles...

Or you can click here.

30 December 2005
  Every day, in every way, things are getting better and better...
From the BBC, 29/12/05:
Death threats cut Iraq oil flow

Iraq's largest oil refinery has been shut down following death threats to tanker drivers, jeopardising supplies of electricity across northern Iraq.


Although billions of dollars have been spent on infrastructure since Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled, fuel and electricity production have not reached the levels maintained before the US-led invasion of Iraq.


Elsewhere in Iraq, about 12 Shia Muslims were killed by insurgents after apparently failing to heed warnings that they should move out of their homes in the mainly Sunni town of Latifiya, about 30km (20 miles) south of Baghdad, officials said.


Also on Thursday, a suicide bomber killed four police officers and wounded five at a checkpoint near the interior ministry in Baghdad, officials said.

The attacker was dressed in a police uniform and blew himself up as police cars were entering the ministry, a police source said.
I wonder if Mr. Rumsfeld would care to repeat his remarks of a while back in which he said we weren't facing an insurgency?
29 December 2005
  New Content on My Website
Actually not much -- a new featured review of a not-so-new Mercedes Lackey book.
  They Just Don't Get It, Do They?
... or, "As Above, So Below".

Having been stung by its part in the Shrub's blatantly illegal warrantless wiretapping scandal, the NSA now finds itself red-faced over another violation of the regulations under which the Federal Government, including NSA, are supposed to operate. (A rather more minor violation, admittedly, but still.)

Basically, it is against Government policy for Government websites to place "cookies" that will persist past the end of the session on computers that connect to them. The NSA has been setting cookies that expire in like 2035.

As reported on AP (29/12/05):
NSA Web Site Plants 'Cookies' on Computers

[T]he issue raises questions about privacy at a spy agency already on the defensive amid reports of a secretive eavesdropping program in the United States.

"Considering the surveillance power the NSA has, cookies are not exactly a major concern," said Ari Schwartz, associate director at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a privacy advocacy group in Washington, D.C. "But it does show a general lack of understanding about privacy rules when they are not even following the government's very basic rules for Web privacy."


Meanwhile, Sony, which has, of late, gotten badly beaten up in the still-on-going "Digital Rights Management Rootkit" controversy, of which i spoke here back in November, has tried a "guerilla marketing" campaign that may be blowing up in their faces as embarrassingly, albeit not so damagingly. (So far.)

Again, AP (29/12/05) :
PlayStation Graffiti Ads Spark Controversy

The black-on-white graffiti shows wide-eyed cartoon characters riding the [Sony] PlayStation like a skateboard, licking it like a lollipop or cranking it like a Jack-in-the-Box.

But there's no mention of the Sony or PlayStation brands — nor any hint the wordless display is an ad.


"They're breaking the law," said Mary Tracy, who runs the Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight, a watchdog group that fights illegal or ill-advised billboards in Philadelphia.

Tracy said Sony ignored the zoning process that regulates outdoor commercial advertising in the city.

Some people just don't learn.
  Today's Weird Video
I promise -- this is not like the car commercial.

But i would really really appreciate it if someone familiar enough with the Japanese language and culture could explain this one to me...

And are those really Jackie Chan, James Brown and (maybe) Bill Cosby?
28 December 2005
  A Couple of Minor Things
(A) You ought to go over to Guy H. Lillian III's Challenger site and check out issue 23. Chall has been a long-running science-fiction fanzine of the classic dead-tree variety (issues back to #17 are available at the site). The dead-tree edition of #23 is available for like $6, if you want it...

Since Guy is a long-time New Orleans resident (and still lives in Louisiana), much of this issue is concerned with Katrina and her aftermath, including an article by former NOLa resident Linda Krawecke (longtime expat in England).

(At this point, some may say "I thought you said that this was a science-fiction publication. What is stuff about Katrina doing in it?" Very good, Grasshopper. You are beginning to perceive the Zennatureof the science-fiction fanzine. Now step over here so i can hit you with the fish.)

Good stuff -- good articles, good artwork, good letters from readers. Good all 'round.

(B) If anyone is actually reading this thing, you can now sign up for an e-mail notification whenever one of my pearls of white-hot wisdom hits the ground and lies there steaming. The Bloglet registration form is over in the sidebar and shall be unto the end of time, selah, but i'm going to try to stick a copy of it into this post, too... let's see if it works...

Enter your email address below to subscribe to The Elecktronick Tyger Roares!

powered by Bloglet

  Comix -- Buy 'Em and Help Nourish and Protect 'Em (v 1.1)

Jen Breeden Publishes Second Devil's Panties Collection

While ago on this blog, I was moved to mention Jen Breeden's webcomic, The Devil's Panties [Not porn! Not Satanic! Shucks!] and say how great it was.

It still is.

But now there's a second collection of the strip coming out, and you need to pre-order it.

"What?!?" say you, "A second collection, forsooth, an' i have not the first such on my shelves?"

Senator, i'm glad you asked me that. If you click Right Here, you can order Vol. 1. (Or, for that matter, at this address, you can order a Geebas on Parade collection.)

Support Your Local Comic Shop

Armed with that info, you should go to your local comics shop and order a copy. (Don't know where your local comic shop is? (Or if you even have a local comic shop?) Use the Comic Shop Locator. Always patronise your local comic shop.

(No, wiseass, i don't mean pat it on the head and tell it you're sure it's doing the best it can...)

And, if you really don't have a local comic shop, or the one you do have is like the one on The Simpsons, then i suppose you'll have to online-order The Devil's Panties here.

But you really ought to support your local comic shop (if you have one) because, in many ways, the fact that the good comics shops are out there, getting by on a smile and a shoeshine, promoting things and making sure that the Good Stuff gets noticed, is the only thing that's keeping a lot of comics and comics-related stuff going.

The Comic Book Legal Defence Fund Defends Your Rights.
Support it.

And while you're doing all that stuff, head over to the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund's website, and find out about the never-ending struggle to protect comics and comic pulishers and writers/artists from over-zealous, bigoted or downright stupid would-be book-burners,

The CBLDF is a worthy cause.

They have all sorts of interesting fund-raising promotional material that you flat can't get anywhere else; not only do you get Reely Neet Stuff, but you help fight for the rights of people like Gordon Lee, the North Georgia comic shop owner facing some serious charges for ludicrous reasons. (A slightly more recent press release at the CBLDF site covers some somewhat encouraging developments in the Lee case.)

"The Devil's Panties" strip for 12/28/05 is © copyright by Jennie Breeden. The CBLDF member card is © copyright CBLDF.

27 December 2005
  This is really an "Onion" gag that escaped, right? Please?
Bin Laden's Niece Poses for GQ
The magazine which last month boasted topless images of Jennifer Aniston has pulled off another coup by featuring terrorist Osama Bin Laden's niece posing seductively in lingerie. Sexy brunette Wafah Dufour - who hopes to launch a pop career - is depicted in America's GQ magazine reclining on satin sheets wrapped in a feather boa and sporting high heels. The 26-year-old hopes the daring photo shoot will put an end to speculation she condones her uncle's violent crusade against the Western world, including the September 11 World Trade Center attacks. She says, "It's really tough that I always have to explain myself. I was born in the States, and I want people to know I'm American, and I want people here to understand that I'm like anyone in New York. For me, it's home."
From IMDB "Movie & TV News"
  At Least I know It's Getting Posted...
I've been wondering if anyone at all has discovered this blog -- i suspect not.

However, it's out there on the Web, anyway -- 'cos tonite i got the following e-mail:


Please forgive me for contacting you like this. I am just one British twentysomething who has come up with an idea that has attracted support and interest from Richard Branson, three television companies and a book company and I was wondering of you would like to spend £10 or $17 dollars in order to get your blog to the Globe.

The idea is simple: "One British twentysomething, twelve global locations, twelve extreme lifestyles" I will be living twelve very different lifestyles - with a millionaire, with one of the poorest communities in the world, with a family in the hottest weather on earth, a community in the coldest location on earth, in a monastry in Beijing and many many more. I will actually living these lifestyles, recording it for a television programme and it will go out live on a blog and podcast which will be seen by many as I have planned many interviews on television programmes, radio stations and for magazines across the Globe'

In order to cover the cost of this trip and website expenses etc I am seeking support from the blogging community. For the minor cost of £10 I will promote your blog on the day that you chose to sponsor, with a strap lilne of your choice and a link to your site, ensuring that the site that you are developing can be seen by many many people - all for only £10.

At first i figured that this must be spam.

However, lower down there was a link which i followed to

So, maybe it's legit.

If i had the ten quid (or the seventeen bucks, for that matter) to spare, i think i'd kick in just to see what happens...
  Amusing Things
Skip The Boring Family Stuff and get straight to The Fun Stuff, if you like...

Hi. Been a couple days since i did a post -- i figure that my readers (all about two of you) would be busy Christmassing (our Xmas wasl owkey and somewhat boring, but later today, i'm driving down to visit my mother and my brother and his family and my sister an her family, so that's okay.

OTOH, i ordered my gifts for sister and family through Amazon, and, chintzy bastard that i am, i ordered used copies of the books (from more than one seller). Well, the Muppet Show Season 1 DVD set for mother and my brother's family came in.

The special 2-in-1 compilation book for my sister-in-law came in.

Volumes 1, 3, & 4 of "The Immortals" are in.

Volume 2, alack, is not.

I'm gonna wait till noon or so before leaving for Milner (it's like a two-hour drive but my sister isn't due there till 2PM or so) -- maybe the Nice Mailman will be here by then.


The Fun Stuff

The other day, i was reading my favourite webcomics, when, in the author's notes at the bottom of the page at Zap! (which you ought check out), i found a link to what was, he said, supposed to be an outtake from a Brit car commercial, in which the car apparently simply vanished.

After i checked that out, i bethought me of how there were other great places to find offbeat or funny videos. I wanted to post a link to the "TV Commercials" at TechnicalVirgin (Warning, site is PG13 at least), but they're not there, even though the rest of the site is. (ah-ha! Found a site that has it. Did you ever wonder why there's no such sin/crime a Gomorrahry?)

OTOH, i hunted around for some i recalled, and i found the Evil Ford SportKA commercial. [No animals or cars were hurt or killed in the making of this commercial (no matter how it looks)].

The infamous "Barbie-Dumps-Ken-for-GI-Joe" Nissan spot; used Van Halen's cover of the Kinks classic; would have been better with the original. (Mattel sued; i think they lost.)

I found a Mother Lode of great online video at Al Lowe's humor site.

(Overall, i'm glad i came to this guy's site via the video links rather than the main page; here in Atlanta we have generally come to regard the "Eat More Chikin" cows as Something That Ran Its Course Long Ago.)

And the radio commercials are even more worn out.

And i really really don't like their sandwiches, either.

Ummm. I'm sorry. Back to great online videos.
While virtually all the videos you can access from Lowe's site are neet, let me recommend a few that are worth seeking out:

For those of us who are tired and more than tired of the Computer Format Holy Wars, may i recommend "Every OS Sux", a sincere and succinct statement in the form of a lo-tech music video, what i'm sure must have been one of the more embarrassing moments in Bill Gates's life, in "Blue Screen of Death".

Which leads me to the Swiss Micro$oft commercial that ran until the home office saw it... "Password Required", forsooth.

Getting somewhat lower tech -- i can't understand a word, but the girl is cute and the "origami" is neet, in the Tee Shirt Folding clip.

I think the Flying Lawnmower really is flying. (The loops and hammerhead stall are particularly nice.)
Herding cats -- the Superbowl ad.

An ad i don't expect to see on my teevee any time soon -- for a sexy toy. (Warning: PG13) From GagReport, also source of the TechnicalVirgin clip a ways up the page.)

EEk. PuffyAmi Yumi perform the theme from the animated Teen Titans; those who recall Secret Agent may be amused.

And my absolute favourite -- the infamous "B****r" Toyota ad from New Zealand. (Ummm, make that "Toyota 'B****r' ad", i think.
24 December 2005
  State by state Cost of the War in Iraq. So Far.
Click here for an interactive map ( from the "Center for American Progress") showing how much the Iraq war has cost each state vs. how much each state has received from the Federal government in Homeland Security and "No Child Left Behind" money.

Incidentally, this reminded me, and i went and hunted up this little piece on the "Red State/Blue State" dichotomy (from "Dispatches from the Culture Wars"). After pointing out that even though the red states are the bastions of God-fearing, moral, homeloving Christian Conservatives, in general they have higher rates than the blue states of homicide, divorce, teenage pregnancy and the like, he comes to this interesting statistic:
Surely those Real Americans in the red states are more self-reliant and hardy than us effete blue staters. With all the talk from red staters about smaller government and keeping those liberal pork project spenders in the Democratic party out of their pocketbook, it's those effete blue staters who feed at the public trough and take our well-earned tax dollars from the big spenders in Washington, right? Er...well, no. According to a study by the Tax Foundation, of all the states that receive more federal money than they pay in Federal taxes, 76% of them (25 of 32) are those self-reliant, small government red states. And of the 10 states that pay the most in Federal taxes and get the least in return, 7 are blue states.
(I note here that i'm pretty sure that i have read that the state that has the highest taxes-paid-to-Federal-money-received deficit is what talk show hosts like to refer to as "The People's Republic of Massachusetts".)
21 December 2005
  It's a Little Late for Gift Ideas, But It's the Thought that Counts...
Some off-trail items you might not have considered for gifts this year, for those whose inclinations in reading or film/music preferences often lead them to odd places. If you rush, as of Right Now (01:11 22/12/2005), some of them can still be here by Christmas!

Oh! What a Lovely War

Richard Attenborough's first film. As i recall, Len Deighton sued to have his name taken off as writer. It's almost quicker to say who of the British theatrical nobility aren't in it than to list which are.

Cast Includes:

John Gielgud .... Count Leopold Von Berchtold
Jack Hawkins .... Emperor Franz Josef
Kenneth More .... Kaiser Wilhelm II
Laurence Olivier .... Field Marshal Sir John French
Michael Redgrave .... Gen. Sir Henry Wilson
Vanessa Redgrave .... Sylvia Pankhurst
Ralph Richardson.... Sir Edward Grey
Maggie Smith .... Music Hall Star
Susannah York .... Eleanor
John Mills .... Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig
Dirk Bogarde .... Stephen
Corin Redgrave .... Bertie Smith

Views World War One through a distorting mirror as an amusement pier at Brighton, switching back and forth between realism, symbolism, and surrealism.

Began as a radio documentary called Long Trail Winding, collecting the songs soldiers actually sang, then a stage musical, then a film.

First time i saw it i was sitting in the rain at an outdoor theatre at Cam Ranh Bay, Viet Nam, in 1970.

(The link appears to be to a site that will sell you a bootleg copy; so far as i can tell, it has never been released in NTSC format for home use, though it has run a few times on cable.)

Clueless George Goes to War
Nasty, Brutish and short (30 pages).

Not unlike its protagonist, who is, of course, totally fictitious, bearing no resemblance at all to any Presidents, living or dead.

In a World War Two Afrika that didn't exist, but probably should have, Colonel Pfirsich Marie Manfred Rommel, the Field Marshall's potentially "embarrassing" brother who is, shall we say, a bit light in his jackboots, commands the 469th halftrack, support and gravedigging battalion, a place to stash the odds and sods that every army finds itself stuck with.

Some of the things that the Peach and his men get into are hilariously funny, some are hair-raising, and some are sad, with the horrible sadness that can only come in war time.

Here are the first first seven "Peaches", as Frau Barr was feeling her way into the character, the milieu and the overall story. (There are significant changes between issues 1 and 2, with Pfirsich's batman Udo becoming a bit less of an "old soldier" type, the elimination of a somewhat nasty streak of homophobia manifested by some of the troops, and making Pfirsich just a bit less of a nellie caricature, and more a real person.

I chose the "Lioness" quartet to represent Tamora Pierce's refreshingly girl-friendly YA fantasies because Alanna the Lioness is sort of an axis around whom much of the other characters and stories in Pierce's "Tortallan" universe revolve.

It is because of Alanna's example that Keladry of Mindenhall, the "Protector of the Small," decides at age nine that she wants to undergo page and squire training in order to become a knight. And it is becuase Alanna managed to get through the training disguised as a boy, and is now the King's Champion that the King has made it possible for Kel or other girls to do so.

Any of Pierce's books would be excellent reading for almost any age of fantasy afficionado, or gifts for girls or young women who enjoy fantasy but aren't content to be just the Mayden Fayre needing to be rescued from the Grimly Tower... girls who, if you don't keep an eye on them, are liable to grab their big brother's sword and saddle up a horse and set out looking for a few wrongs to right, themselves.

((And for somewhat older ladies who are more likely to picture themselves doing the Mighty Smiting of Caitiff Rogues than they are to see themselves shrieking helplessly for rescue, may i recommend Elizabeth Moon's "Paksennarion" stories, collected in the single volume The Deed of Paksennarion?))
  Do You See What I See?
No, this is not a post about "The Little Drummer Boy". Though it might be fun to try to track down some of the more outre versions of that song -- David Bowie and Bing Crosby, for instance, or Joan Jett, but...

Take a look at these two covers for books written by my younger brother, David Weber.

The first is the cover that was originally issued on the second book in his "Honor Harrington" female-Hornblower-in-space series, Honor of the Queen, issued 1993.

The second, by David Mattingly, now the sole cover artist for the series, is for the sixth book, Honor Among Enemies. (I told Dave that since the boook at least starts out being about a pirate-chasing assignment, i'd have called it Honor Among Thieves, but i can see why his title fits a little better, if being less snarky at the same time).

Anyway, when ...Among Enemies came out in --'98, was it? -- as soon as i looked at that cover, it seemed as if there were something i ought to be remembering. As if it reminded me of something.

But i couldn't think what.

But then i finally thought of ...of the Queen, and i said "Ah! Of Course!"

Okay -- here's the question -- do you see what i saw in the two covers?

Please make a comment or drop me an e-mail if you do

(Or even if you're just reading this and don't care about the covers; i sometimes wonder if anyone is reading this at all...)

(Honor Among Enemies cover art copyright (©) by David B. Mattingly; Honor of the Queen cover art copyright (©) by original artist or by Baen Books)
20 December 2005
  Ride 'Em Jewboy!
When he first announced, i (and a lot of other people, let's face it) {Hmmm -- has Molly Ivins had anything to say about this?} wondered whether Richard "Kinky" Friedman was serious about running for Governor of Texas.

Not that i didn't figure the Kinkster would be hard pressed to be worse than the usual run of Governor those people usually serve up for themselves, but because i sort of thought he was too smart to give that particular meat grinder even a quick peek at his wedding tackle.

Well, the man is really doing it. He's got a fairly serious-looking website, he's getting real press attention (also here ) and, oh, yeah, in some Yankee rag called The New Yorker.

Then there's his downloadable animated campaign video, and the teevee ads alluded to in some of the newspaper coverage.

And just think -- after you've been Governor of Texas, about the only thing left to do is be President!
  Well, THAT Didn't Take Long...
I considered heading this post "...I Could Just Moult", referencing the Disney Aladdin, but i thought this was too serious a matter for such levity. *snerk*

This Just In:

In an amazing show of collegiality and good-feeling, major Iraqi opposition religious and political leaders waited nearly twenty-four hours before denouncing recent elections as fraudulent...

Iraq's Sunni Arabs Demand Election Inquiry
By ELENA BECATOROS, Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Sunni Arab and a key secular party charged Tuesday that parliamentary elections were tainted by fraud, and demanded an inquiry into preliminary results showing the governing Shiite religious bloc with a larger than expected lead.

With politicians barely containing their hostility toward each other, the bitter climate raised questions about U.S. hopes that the Dec. 15 vote will lead to a more inclusive government involving Sunni Arabs, the minority group that formed the core of Saddam Hussein's government and is now the backbone of the insurgency.
Well, if anyone other than George W. Bush didn't see that coming, he hasn't been watching.

But then, again, neither has George W. Bush, has he?

  Japanese Glass Table Illusions
Very nice close-up penetration illusions.

Even though i have a pretty good idea how most of it works, i can't see it.







Watch his right hand after the first illusion.

And consider carefully the way in which the girl selects whether she wants the salt shaker or the pepper mill for the second.

Also look Very Closely at the coin at the very end, after the final illusion.
19 December 2005
  Wow! I Are For Real!
After reading a few other blogs, i decided that this one needed a Disclaimer Statement.

So i found one that i liked, added a little extra snarkiness and a specific legal citation tracked down elsewhere, and VIOLA! the trick she is done!

You could look down at the Very Bottom of the page, where it is printed in teeny-tiny letters, but why should you strain your eyes?


DISCLAIMER: Unless unambiguously noted, all opinions expressed on this blog are those of the owner/author. *** The author's opinions do not represent those of his employers (if he had any), nor of anyone else beside himself, which specifically includes his wife, mother, step-daughter or unborn step-grand-daughter. *** All original material is copyrighted and property of the owner/author. If you use it at least have the decency to give me credit for it. Don’t steal it or I reserve the right to irritate you to heck and back, to tell everyone in the blogosphere you're a big poopyhead, or even to sue. *** Other info may have been copyrighted by someone else; the author believes that such work as is quoted here does not exceed reasonable "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law as i understasnd it. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. *** Opinions in comments or trackbacks are not mine, so if you have a problem with those, sorry, I can’t help you. Did the jerk you're honked off with leave a URL or e-mail? If so, go bug him. *** Anyone mentioned in relation to a crime is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. *** E-mail Contact: fairportfan AT All e-mails are presumed to be for publication on the site unless I am specifically told otherwise. *** All comments are subject to deletion, revision or derision should the author find them offensive, irrelevant or just simply take a dislike to you. *** Trolling is not tolerated. Trolls will be savagely mocked one time and then ignored *** This disclaimer modeled (with extra added snarkiness) on that of "Queer Conservative".
  Sir! In order to preserve the Constitution it was necessary to destroy it, Sir!
At a news conference, Bush bristled at the suggestion he was assuming unlimited powers."To say `unchecked power' basically is ascribing some kind of dictatorial position to the president, which I strongly reject," he said angrily in a finger-pointing answer. "I am doing what you expect me to do, and at the same time, safeguarding the civil liberties of the country."

Well, certainly he's doing about what i expected him to do; as to the second part of that sentence -- that is at best a matter of opinion

The Shrub, his wiretaps, and his opinions on the Constitution and law:

Bush Vows Domestic Surveillance to Continue
AP - Washington - 19 December 05
Bush said the warrantless spying, conducted by the National Security Agency, was an essential element in the war on terror.

"It was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war. The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy," he said.

Normally, no wiretapping is permitted in the United States without a court warrant. But Bush said he approved the action without such orders "because it enables us to move faster and quicker. We've got to be fast on our feet.

"It is legal to do so. I swore to uphold the laws. Legal authority is derived from the Constitution," he added.
AP - 19 December 05 -Washington
Bush Vigorously Defends Domestic Spying
"I can fully understand why members of Congress are expressing concerns about civil liberties," the president said. "I want to make sure the American people understand, however, that we have an obligation to protect you, and we're doing that, and at the same time, protecting your civil liberties."

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, said he received a single briefing earlier this year and that important details were withheld. "We need to investigate this program and the president's legal authority to carry it out," Reid said.

Bush was cool toward investigations, saying, "An open debate would say to the enemy, `Here is what we're going to do.' And this is an enemy which adjusts." He said the administration had consulted with Congress more than a dozen times.
And possibly the scariest report, Doug Thompson, Capitol Hill Blue, says:
GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”

“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”

“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.”
Any betting on whether eventually (if not by the end of the current Republican Administration, by the end of another, if the citizenry are so stupid in '08) we have to carry internal passports and show them if we travel, in order to assure our safety from terror?
  I'm So Happy we have Faux News to tell us the Truth ... or at least what we want to hear.
Fox News is still trying to sell the Shrub's lies that there was a link between Iraq and al Qaeda that made it imperative to go to war against Iraq.

Low on the Hog published
an article on 28/11/05 scrupulously detailing the Administration's lies, half-truths and distortions that were designed to convince a large portion of the public that there was such a link, in order to "justify" Bush's drive for a war in Iraq as self-defence and anti-terrorism, rather than an aggressive action to punish Saddam Hussein for embarrassing the Shrub's Daddy.

The reason that such an article seemed like a good idea was (and still is), of course, that various right-wing types were (and still are) saying the man didn't lie.

The proximate cause of the Low on the Hog article was an incident involving Chris Wallace (Mike Wallace's son) on FOX News Sunday, 27/11/05. Quoting the post:
Yesterday, FOX's Chris Wallace went after Carl Levin on Fox News Sunday. He was ostensibly questioning Levin about his position that Bush mislead Americans by linking Iraq and al Qaida. In fact, he was overtly arguing the Bush line, using a single piece of incomplete footage and then trying to bully Levin into agreeing he was mistaken. (Crooks and Liars has footage.) I'll leave aside, for the moment, the egregious departure from journalism this represents (though it's a rich vein to mine).
I find this amusing, if only because any number of right-wingers have accused Mike Wallace, over the years, of distorting facts and bullying interviewess into saying things they didn't mean that weren't true.

The reason i'm coming to it at this late date is because i started working on an essay for an apa-zine (for any who read this who don't know what an apa-zine is, e-mail me and i'll try to explain; my favourite simile is that it's like a USENET newsgroup with a two-month latency...); inspired by several recent little snippets i've seen quoting one or other Wallace.

I wasn't aware of just how far Wallace the Younger has gone in attempting to discredit his father; and then i hit this little goodie:
Chris Wallace: Mike Wallace Has 'Lost It'


"He's lost it. The man has lost it. What can I say," the younger Wallace lamented to WRKO Boston radio host Howie Carr on Friday.

"He's 87-years old and things have set in," the Fox anchor continued. "I mean, we're going to have a competence hearing pretty soon."
Nice way to talk about your 87-year-old father on broadcast radio.

Back in early November (o2/11/05), Chris interviewed Mike on his FOX Sunday show; apparently things sounded a bit different, though there was some sniping:

Mike and Chris warmly shook hands as they met in the green room. They talk frequently, but hadn't seen each other in months.

Fox News Channel chief Roger Ailes was there to see the confrontation.

Chris said he gets e-mails saying "You're just like your father." He says it's not intended as a compliment.

"Even a liberal reporter is a patriot, wants the best for this country," Wallace the Elder said. "And people, your fair and balanced friends at Fox, don't fully understand that."

At the interview's end, Mike said "I love you and I'm proud of you."

"All right, we don't want to cry. We're done," said Chris.
(assembled from various souces)

Of course, what apparently set Chris off was Mike's interview with the Boston Globe on 08/12/05, in which he said, in response to the question
Q:What would you ask President Bush [who has refused, showing more intelligence than i usually credit him with, to even consider doing an interview with Wallace] if you had the chance?

A. What in the world prepared you to be the commander in chief of the largest superpower in the world? In your background, Mr. President, you apparently were incurious. You didn't want to travel. You knew very little about the military. . . . The governor of Texas doesn't have the kind of power that some governors have. . . . Why do you think they nominated you? . . . Do you think that has anything to do with the fact that the country is so [expletive] up?

In the same interview, in what i suspected was snarkiness as soon as i heard it, and still do, Wallace referred to FOX Chairman/CEO, Roger Ailes, and the way he built FOX:
Roger Ailes is a man I admire very much. He understood there was a market that was not being served. He was right.
Yeah, there were a lot of knuckle-draggers out there who really needed something that would claim to be a "Fair and Balanced" news organisation while feeding them justifications and rationalisations of their Neanderthaloid view of the word.
17 December 2005
  Ah, the City by the Bay...
San Francisco Renting Christmas Trees

The trees involved are a tad non-traditional, but the idea is neet.
SAN FRANCISCO - It might just take a Christmas miracle to deck out these spindly branches, and at $90 a tree they're anything but cheap. But like Charlie Brown's sad sapling, it's the thought behind them that shines through.

The city is renting 100 young potted trees, from fruitless olives to Brisbane boxes, to homes for the holidays. Instead letting them get tossed to the curb when holiday is over, the city will pick them up in January and plant them in a neighborhood in need of greenery.


I can remember -- just barely, i must have been about three or four -- that the first two years after my folks bought our first home in Cleveand, we had live Christmas trees, which Dad planted on each side of the front steps. I'm not sure what kind they were, though they were definitely evergreens; from what i recall of their shape, i'm guessing firs.

These days, live evergreens are too flippin' expensive for the average homeowner to do that with, but cut trees are hideously wasteful, and jam up landfills or require recycling programs (They can be fun to dispose of in the fireplace, though -- "fun" in the sense of "make sure you hve 911 on speed dial before you try it", that is), and artificial trees are nasty.
16 December 2005
  As I was saying, when I was so rudely interrupted...
At 05:30 EST (UMT-5)15 December 2005, i was sitting down at the keyboard to do a post to this blog -- about what, i have totally forgotten, but it would have been REELLLY GREAT.

Twenty-seven hours later the power came back on.

Ice storms are the bane of upper Georgia and both Carolinas -- temperature just above freezing for several hours, cold rain falls, a little bit of evaporation chills the water where it collects on trees, cars and power lines, and -- presto! --down go the trees and powerlines, black ice everywhere on the roads, half-million people (literally -- well, 405,000) without power in a four-state area...

(Tree branch fell on a car -- not ours -- in the parking lot behind the apartment, broke windows.)

Fun Fun Fun.
14 December 2005
  One Application to Create, Deploy and Manage Your Web Sites

...0ne to find them, one to bring them all and in the darkness bind them...

((Couldn't help it when i read the Subject: line))

What do you want your Web site to do today?

Ektron's Web Content Management system gives you all the tools you need to create, deploy, and manage your Web site - all rolled into one application
  Susblood Labs, LLC Announces New Suicide Bomb Deterrents

Here it is! Now you, too can do your part in the suppression of international terrorism!

As Susblood Labs, LLC, the manufacturer of the "Infidel's Revenge" Suicide-Bomber-Deterrent-Device-and-Ballpoint-Pen combination, point out, a major incentive for suicide bombers is their belief that dying in such a matter as part of the jihad against the Crusader Bush, and his minions guarantees them a place of honour in Paradise with twenty-seven beautiful virgins at their beck and call.

[Didja ever wonder what they promise the female suicide bombers?]
[Rude mental image of al Quaeda recruiter holding up hands about two feet apart...]

But not if they are rendered ritually impure at the moment of the attack.

And that's where the "Infidel's Revenge" Suicide-Bomber-Deterrent-Device-and-Ballpoint-Pen comes in, as explained by the manufacturer:
How it works:
In the extreme heat of a terrorist explosion the components in the pens' chambers combine, and vaporize. The result is a fine atomized mist of fully active, reconstituted porcine plasma (pig's blood) permeating the entire scene; defiling the flesh and soul of the suicide bomber; paradise lost for terrorists and incentive eliminated for would-be-terrorists. Our products are safe, non-toxic and do not affect the eternity of infidels.
Other Susblood products designed to combat terrorism include:

Large-size hermetically-sealed capsules with a six-year shelf life, based on recombinant DNA technology, designed to be placed in buildings, busses, etc., to deter suicide-bomber attack

Susblood Lab, LLC: "Finally, we can all do something to bring an end to global terror."
  A Special Crippled Cellphone for Kids?
Lookie here. This is the new "Migo" phone. With a mere two-year comitment to a "family" plan, you can get this little beauty for a mere $99.99. Verizon advertises it as the first kid-friendly wireless phone.

Note the cute little green "Hello Kitty" style logo.

Note the three different colours of wrist straps.

Note the three different-coloured carabiners for attaching it to backpacks.

Note that the "Super Simplified Keypad and Interface" -- with five, count 'em, FIVE total keys for the four parental-approved (and programmed/locked in) numbers little Buffy or Herkimer is allowed to use it to call, plus a great big red "call the cops" key right in the middle.

No mention of GPS, so perhaps they either aren't planning to offer that to parents for their kids' phones, or maybe the comes on a later model at $200 or more.

Also no mention of how draconian incoming call control is going to be; if there's no firewall or equivalent i'd at least bet on some form of "Mom's White List".

And it has a "Booming" speakerphone.

Just what you need with, say, a teenage girl with hormones and girlfriends or boyfriend, and a "booming speakerphone".
13 December 2005
  And, Now in the Interest of Equal Time for All Nutbars...
...we present a "Christian" diatribe "proving" that C.S.Lewis is a Tool of the Devil, and the Narnia books are Satanic Snares created to Lure Our Children to Damnation, to counterbalance the previous post from a British atheist (who said much the same thing, but had a harder time making her case, since she didn't have the Devil handyto blame it all on).

They begin:
John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley all died on the same day.
They all went to the same place.
Kennedy went to hell because he trusted in the Roman Whore.
Huxley went to hell because he trusted in himself alone and his hybrid Eastern mystic notions.
And, Lewis went to hell because he invented a new god, and he ended his life a Taoist.
We will prove it here.
Neet, Huh?

The whole thing -- ten or twelve excruciatingly ugly and ludicrous files, may be found here.

The gist of the authors' method of dissertation consists of picking passages out of Lewis's writings or those of others about Lewis, and then appending Scripture that vaguely sounds like it might have something to do with what they previously quoted if you twist it hard enough, and look at it slantendicular, and then going "There? See? That proves it!" and going on to their next "point".

They do include a good picture of the Bird and Baby (Eagle & Child), the Inklings' Oxford "local", though...

Speaking of which, they reprint the following LETTER FROM A READER -- Sept. 16, 2000
Dear Steve,

I was browsing thru your site after my previous e-mail and came across this in your section on C.S. Lewis: One of Lewis' favorite pubs, "The Eagle and Child," familiarly known as "The Bird and Baby." This inn-sign is actually a representation of the pagan god Zeus/Jupiter in the form of an eagle carrying off a boy called Ganymede to Olympus to serve as a sexual plaything. I don't know whether that was why Lewis was attracted to it, but it can hardly be coincidental that such a foul and disgusting image should be associated with a pub frequented by such a person as Lewis.

Incidentally, the authors of this site reject salvation by works (the idea that you have to do something good yourself other then just kiss God's ass enough to be saved), which was to some extent Lewis's belief, they being of the type that teach that if you just keep telling Him how much you love him and wanna be his punk forever and ever over and over long enough, he might deign to reach down and "save" you.

If he doesn't, tough luck, bud -- you just weren't a Good Enough Person. Fry in Hell.

They also get all up in arms over Lewis's contention that a person, onced "saved" could become "not-saved", no matter what he might do in later life; that, just as it is impossible for us to be "saved" by works, just so is it impossible for the "saved" to be damned by works.

As near as i can tell, this means that once you're saved you can go on a cross-country pillage of rapine and murder*, and when the cops finally gun you down, straight up to Heaven you will go.


At least glance through it to see what kind of people have our beloved President's ear.


*Or, say if you were to strap on a bomb and blow yourself up in a crowded public place, not only would you go to Heaven but you'd get...


Sorry --that's the Bad Guy Religious Funnymentalists.
  Why Do Some People Get So Worked Up?
Looking at a list of blogs, the name "Queer Conservative" caught my eye.

As far as i'm concerned, what i find offensive in that title is the word "Conservative", given the way that term is currently being (mis)defined and (mis)used.

I mean, i happen to be straight, but i'd be a lot less worried if society as a whole thought i was gay than i would if everyone assumed i was a Bush "Conservative".

That being said, one of his posts, entitled NARNIA: A REVIEW BY A NON-BELIEVER, bringing to light a frothing-at-the-mouth review written by an obvious atheist, definitely caught my eye.

Lord, almighty, and i thought the Funnymentalists like the Shrub and his buddies were the real hellfire'n'brimstone shouters.

Herewith we have British columnist Polly Toynbee, telling us, in a review entitled 'Narnia represents everything most hateful about religion' (the Guardian), how hateful The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is.
Why? Because here in Narnia is the perfect Republican, muscular Christianity for America - that warped, distorted neo-fascist strain that thinks might is proof of right. I once heard the famous preacher Norman Vincent Peale in New York expound a sermon that reassured his wealthy congregation that they were made rich by God because they deserved it. The godly will reap earthly reward because God is on the side of the strong. This appears to be CS Lewis's view, too. In the battle at the end of the film, visually a great epic treat, the child crusaders are crowned kings and queens for no particular reason. Intellectually, the poor do not inherit Lewis's earth.
(This is not one of the passages QC quoted; it rather tickles my fancy, though.)

At an earlier point, making a point that Britain is highly secularised these days and that Gibson's "Passion of the Christ" (allegedly) flopped there, she continues:
Most British children will be utterly clueless about any message beyond the age-old mythic battle between good and evil. Most of the fairy story works as well as any Norse saga, pagan legend or modern fantasy, so only the minority who are familiar with Christian iconography will see Jesus in the lion. After all, 43% of people in Britain in a recent poll couldn't say what Easter celebrated. Among the young - apart from those in faith schools - that number must be considerably higher. Ask art galleries: they now have to write the story of every religious painting on the label as people no longer know what "agony in the garden", "deposition", "transfiguration" or "ascension" mean. This may be regrettable cultural ignorance, but it means Aslan will stay just a lion to most movie-goers.
and finishes up
Children are supposed to fall in love with the hypnotic Aslan, though he is not a character: he is pure, raw, awesome power. He is an emblem for everything an atheist objects to in religion. His divine presence is a way to avoid humans taking responsibility for everything here and now on earth, where no one is watching, no one is guiding, no one is judging and there is no other place yet to come. Without an Aslan, there is no one here but ourselves to suffer for our sins, no one to redeem us but ourselves: we are obliged to settle our own disputes and do what we can. We need no holy guide books, only a very human moral compass. Everyone needs ghosts, spirits, marvels and poetic imaginings, but we can do well without an Aslan.
I just love people who have to run around telling little kids there is no Santa Claus.

The rant as a whole has to be read to be believed.

Years ago, the Velvet Underground had this woman's number:

...there's even some evil mothers
Well there gonna tell you that everything is just dirt
you know that women never really faint
and that villians always blink their eyes
that children are the only ones who blush
and that life is just to die

But anyone who ever had a heart
they wouldn't turn around and break it
and anyone who ever played a part
They wouldn't turn around and hate it...*
(Lou Reed, "Sweet Jane")

People who are very very afraid often want others to share their fears. People who hate need support from others who hate, so that they won't have to consider whether it's everybody else who's wrong, or whether it's just them...


*Incidentally, the best version of "Sweet Jane" ever recorded --and that's a quasi-quote from Lou Reed -- was done on their first album by Two Nice Girls, an Austin-based gay female trio, who combined it seamlessly with Joan Armatrading's "Love and Affection" in an ethereal arrangement that's almost too pretty to bear...

Like most truly beautiful music that doesn't fit the procrustean formats at Clear Channel and its ilk (may they burn in Radio Hell!), it is long-since out of print and unavailable.
  Rating Films, It's a Dirty Business, but Someone's Gotta Do It...

Documentary About Ratings Board Rated NC-17
In an ironic twist, the MPAA ratings board has assigned an NC-17 rating to a documentary film about the ratings board itself. (...) funded by the Independent Film Channel (IFC). (...) the documentary, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, [received] the most stringent of all ratings because of "some graphic sexual content."

IFC [citing the secrecy with which the MPAA works, said] "We decided to pull back the curtain and dare ask the question, 'Why?'"
12 December 2005
  Pizza 2010 -- PSA
On AdCritic -- a Public Service Announcement from the ACLU

"Pizza 2010".
Ordered a pizza lately?
  It's Chickenman! (BawK-BaWk-bawk-BWA-A-A-A-W-WCK!)
Seminal British blues man Long John Baldry released an excellent album in 1972, in which he assured us that Everything Stops for Tea. My review at my website is here. (Go ahead -- i'll wait here till you get back.)

An excellent album, you should buy it, not what i came here today to talk about.

No, this post is about something else entirely that everything stopped for.

It's Chickenman! (BawK-BaWk-bawk-BWA-A-A-A-W-WCK!)

It's like 14 CDs, it's like $129 dollars or so, and it's every blessed episode Dick Orkin ever made featuring Benton Harbor, shoe salesman and part time superhero, the Wonderful White Winged Weekend Warrior -- CHICKENMAN!!"

"Welll, what sort of predicament does the Wonderful White Winged Weekend Warrior find himself in, this afternoon..."

Some of you* may remember a little doodah that we got involved in forty or so years ago... What was the name of the place... Oh, yeah -- Viet Nam!

Every afternoon around 1700 hours -- 16:45, maybe? EVERYTHING in the ET shack and the radio spaces at the Us Naval Comm Station at Cam Ranh Bay for the next episode of the Wonderful White-Winged Weekend Warrior on AFVNR.

I'm not a hundred percent sure, but i thought that i heard that it went out on all the AFVNR stations simultaneously, throughout the country.

Cheese, if Mr Charlie had discovered that we were all listening to "Chickenman" and not really paying attention to much else, it would have been such an opportunity for co-ordinated assaults throughout the country, while we were all under the spell of the Wonderful White-Winged Weekend Warrior as he attempted to crush crime and/or evil.

Or maybe not.

I have this mildly bizarre mental image of guys in black PJs and BFGoodrich sandals (thank you Tom Paxton) in hidden bunkers, spiderholes and safehouses, gathered around transistor radios tuned to AFVNR and laughing way too hard to even consider starting trouble for the next fifteen minutes or so...

Would it had been so.

Would simple laughter could bring peace forever.

Last night i had the strangest dream...

Buy Chickenman, laugh yourself silly as, for the umptenth time, The Commissioner walks into the closet trying to leave his office -- and think about those guys in holes and bunkers and ET shops laughing themselves silly for a while and forgetting the war for that fifteen minutes, at least.

And remember the guys in Baghdad and other places that were once beautiful cities till we decided to "liberate" them... and think whether it's worth it.

*I'll be posting a link to the semi-bitter semi-tirade i cut out up there elsewhere; i'm talking about something fun here.
  A Dirty Duck. No, no -- Not THAT Dirty Duck...
09 December 2005
  Minor Details about the Previous Post
John Byrne is apparently a friend of Tom Batiuk, who does Funky, but, beyond that, pencilled the strip for a couple months or so beginning on 30/03/03.

Anyway, Byrne's run on the strip at least partially set up the bust/trial sequence.

And it included one little in-joke:

In the entire run, Byrne pencilled all of the strips, but inked only one panel, (seen here) since the inking, as usual, modified his pencilling somewhat and he had, as well, simplified his overall style to fit with Batiuk's usual style.*

However, to get the most out of the in-joke, of course, he had to make sure that the WW sketch came across solidly as his own work...


*Which Batiuk, in the meantime, has himself midified, moving toward a bit more realistic style than the very loose cartoony style he used when Funky was a high-school gag-a-day strip.)

[panel from funky winkerbean copyright © by Batom, Inc, Wonder Woman copyright © by DC Comics]
  It Ain't Over Till It's Over.
Back on 21 November, Peter David, comics and SF writer, referred in his blog to artist John Byrne's appearance as an expert witness in an obscenity trial, charging a small local comics shop with selling obscene materials to minors.

No, it wasn't the case up in Rome, Georgia, which i believe is ongoing as we speak, and in which the Comic Book Legal Defence Fund (long my it wave) is involved.

No, this was the trial of John, owner of Komix Korner, the comic shop in the syndicated newspaper comic strip Funkie Winkerbean.

Back in May -- 3 May, 2005, to be exact, a friend of the owner, meaning to do him a favour, referred her mother to the shop to buy a gift for someone who liked comics. Her mother is (a) a total jerk ("serial idiot" is the phrase Becky uses when she hears about her mother's actions later) and (b) a City Councilwoman... And John wound up busted for selling obscene material to minors.

The trial began ( November 12), with the afore-mentioned John Byrne appearance on November 17 and 18.

Byrne's testimony is immediately followed by the high school art teacher who speaks glowingly of art and the creative process and then refers to cartooning and comics as trash.

However, on 29 November, John is acquitted, followed by a party at Montoni's, the pizza parlor that is the moral center of the Funky universe (and in whose basement the shop is located).

All over, right?

The Good Guys won, no?


As of today, Tony Montoni is wondering why city workers have totally closed and begun tearing up the street in front of Montoni's, just as the holiday season, which he says are "our busiest part of our year", begins.

Lessee -- who's affected by that shutdown?

Montoni's, where the conspiracy against decency has its headquarters, the Komix Korner, in the basement, and Lisa Moore's second-floor walkup law office,

And what do all of thse people have in common?

They made a City Councilwoman look ludicrous at the comic shop trial, and personally humiliated her on the witness stand.

No matter who you vote for, the Government aways get in.

[panel from funky winkerbean all characters copyright ©
by Batom, Inc]

08 December 2005
  What was this Man THINKING?
From the Seattle Intelligencer for Wednesday, 7 December 2005:
The evidence against Joice is so overwhelming that even his lawyer told jurors he was the shooter. A witness took down the license plate number of Joice's rental car at the scene, police found a "murder kit" including a 9 mm pistol and a fake beard in his trunk, and surveillance video from a hardware store shows Joice purchasing materials for a homemade silencer.

Joice's attorney, Micheline Murphy, hopes to convice the jury that the shooting was not premeditated attempted murder because Joice didn't intend to kill Jung - a difficult task, considering the lengths Joice went to to plan the attack. Joice is facing a standard sentencing range of 20 to 25 years if convicted

Apparently, this guy Joice, a former Snohomish County Prosecutor and Jung, prominent in the local Korean community, were hooked up in a contract dispute, and Joice was constantly missing court dates and Joice was "repeated[ly] fail[ing] to meet deadlines and follow court orders".

So the two were supposed to show up in court and discuss it with with the judge; Jung intended to ask the court to find Joice in contempt.

Instead Joice (wearing a false beard) showed up early in a rental car, and, with a 9mm pistol fitted with home-made silencer and a bag to catch the spent brass, opened fire.

Jung suffered severe brain damage, losing the ability to speak.

Meanwhile, Mr Brilliant Committor of the Perfect Crime turns in his rental car, calls a cab from the rental office, apparently planning to go home, get his own car, and appear at the hearing as if unaware that anything has happened.

Except that witnesses gave the cops the full number of the rental, they call the rental offices almost immediately, discovered that the car had been turned by a customer who left on foot. They were able to verify that someone had called a cab from the area of the office, and got there before the cab did...
Officers drove to the pickup address, and found Joice, dressed in a suit as if he were heading to court.

In Joice's Mill Creek home and attached three-car garage, they found crudely made silencers. In the trunk of his own white Lexus, they found the "murder kit." Attached to the pistol was a plastic baggie to catch spent bullet casings.

So he makes his own silencer (not actually hard to do, they work on the same principle as an auto muffler; as a matter of act, you can pick up the parts to make a pretty good one- or two-shot suppressor for 9mm Kurz/.380 pistols in any grocery store for about two bucks...).

He gets a fake beard.

He rigs a plastic bag to catch the spent brass so that the cops can't match it to the gun (God knows why he plans to keep the gun; with as much water as there is in the Seattle area, stripping it and tossing the bits into several different bodies of water sounds good to me).

Rents a car, presumably anonymously.

Shoots the guy several times, at least once in the head.

Screws up over the cab; i'd have walked further away and waited longer, however he doesn't, presumably so he won't be too late for the hearing, which is to be his alibi.

This guy's been watching too much "CSI" and way too many Steven Seagal films.

And his attorney is going to try to convince the jury this wasn't premeditated murder.

That, maybe, he just planned to scare him a little.

As Henry Fonda says in Once Upon A Time in the West, "People scare better when they're dyin'."
07 December 2005
  Cheney Says Emperor's New Clothes Still Getting More Beautiful Daily
Cheney insists 'steady progress' happening in Iraq
By Patricia Wilson - Tue Dec 6,12:56 PM ET

Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday joined the White House push to counter growing discontent with the Iraq war, acknowledging challenges ahead but insisting "steady progress" had been made on the political and security fronts.

06 December 2005
  Honest; it was on fire when I lay down on it...
So Tom Delay's atorneys are claiming that even though (well, probably they'd say "even if", but what they mean comes through) he did what the DA has charged him with and he's been indicted for, the indictment should still be thrown out.

For why?

Because, they claim, in Texas law, you only commit "money laundering" if you are dealing with actual, physical bills and coins, not with checks.

In other words, had he gone around to Big Business types with a black bag, accepting cash contributions to his PAC, passed those on in a big bag with dollar signs on it to the Republican National State Elections Committee, and then received in return several smaller bags of nickels and dimes individually marked with the names of Texas lawmakers, whose aggregate equalled the big bag he sent to the RNC, that would be money laundering in an attempt to avoid Texas campaign finance statutes which forbid direct corporate contributions to candidates.

BUT, they say, even if he did exactly the same thing, it wouldn't be money-laundering!

It might be violating the election codea.

it might even be CONSPIRACY to violate the election code. (It would not, of course, be conspiracy to commit money laundering, since it wouldn't be money laundering... Welcome to the fun house.)

But it certainly -- oh, no, not ever, could not, not possibly be money laundering 'cos it wasn't, you know, really money -- it was,like, just checks.

Hmmm. Now why might this be so important, that they are practically admitting that he might have, well, sort of, accidentally done something resembling what the indictment says he does, bt trying to get that particular charge thrown out on a technicality?

Well, permit me to quote from an AP story relating to this little matter:
Conspiracy to violate the election code carries up to two years in prison. Money laundering is punishable by five years to life. Conspiracy to commit money laundering carries two years.

To me, "two-years-and-you-serve-about-eleven-months-in-a-country-club" sounds preferable to "five-to-life-in-the-Very-Bsd-Place."

Anyway. The judge ruled that checks "are clearly funds and can be the subject of money laundering," and that was the end of that particular foolishness.

Then Delay's attorney's tried another tack, claiming it couldn't be money laundering, under Texas law, which involves criminal funds, if the funds hadn't been illegally obtained. (Which they admittedly hadn't -- it was legal to give them to Delay's PC, just not directly to the candidates.)

To which the judge responded (i'm starting to like this judge -- and remember, this isn't the original judge; Delay's people got a recusal because the original judge was a Democrat, and so, they said, prejudiced. One wonders gleefully what the original judge would have had to say by this point) that the money became suspect when "it began to be held with the prohibited intent."

He ruled that if prosecutors could establish that Delay and his minions collected corporate money "with the express intent of converting those funds to the use of individual candidates," or converted legally collected funds by asking the RNC to send the same amount back to Texas candidates, "then they will have established that money was laundered."
Conspiracy to violate the election code carries up to two years in prison. Money laundering is punishable by five years to life. Conspiracy to commit money laundering carries two years.
05 December 2005
  Requiem for a Plastic Hero: "An Ace in the Hole", By Eric Chase Anderson
NYTimes OpEd piece about Viet Nam hero Congressman "Duke" Cunningham and his bribery revelations.

"Memories, like heroes, they never grow old" (Eric Bogle, "Front Row Cowboy")

But sometimes the heros turn out to be all too human.
Richard Reeves begins a column, Fri Dec 2:
President John F. Kennedy was considered a historian because of his book "Profiles in Courage," so he received periodic requests to rate the presidents, those lists that usually begin "1. Lincoln, 2. Washington ..."

But after he actually became president himself, he stopped filling them out.

"No one knows what it's like in this office," he said after being in the job.


[James Buchanan, widely regarded as the worst President ever] was the guy who in 1861 passed on the mess to the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln. Buchanan set the standard, a tough record to beat. But there are serious people who believe that George W. Bush will prove to do that, be worse than Buchanan. I have talked with three significant historians in the past few months who would not say it in public, but who are saying privately that Bush will be remembered as the worst of the presidents.
He goes on to quote an informal poll by the History News Network at George Mason University, which received responses on this question from 415 historians (which was, to be fair, admittedly only about one in three of the total queried, which does tend to push this a bit in the "everybody's got one" direction, despite the respondents actually like, you know, theoretically knowing what they're talking about).

Let's just say it looks bad for the Shrub.

And the results in a capsule?
338 said they believed Bush was failing, while 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever. Worse than Buchanan.
And, ominously, it wasn't a just bunch of raving liberals who downchecked the guy: should be noted that some of the criticism about deficit spending and misuse of the military came from self-identified conservatives...
It looks bad for the Man from Texas.

Reeves runs through a list of bullet points, not the least of which is:
He is ignorantly hostile to science and technological progress
In his summation, Reeves admits that it's still too soon to decisively judge Bush Minor (after all, al Quaeda could pull off another big op in the USA and give him another opportunity to look like a Man Who Has Some Idea What He's Actually Doing), and the final word won't be in for years after he is (finally) gone.

Meanwhile his final two sentences contain a deliciously bitchy snapper ending...
  Neet Pictures.
I don't know how many of my (hypothetical) readers will have read the Illuminatus! trilogy by Wilson and Shea.

Of the ones of you who have, you may remember annoying signs that turned up in public places, signed "The Mgt", which everyone assumed stood for "The Management" but actually was "The Midget", a Discordian Little Person.

Someone of the same bent has been operating in Britain, according to these amusing BBC photos.
04 December 2005
  One of my Recent Amazon Reviews
Everything Stops
for Tea

Long John Baldry

My review:

I [Hadn't] Got This CD yet...
7 November 2005
5 of 5 stars

... but as soon as i [could] afford to order some music, [i did and i have it], though.

However, i have strong and fond memories of the original album, so this review is based on those (thus, i won't be discussing the bonus tracks or the CD quality/packaging).

I guess that the saddest thing i have to report, to begin with, is that Long John stepped on a rainbow two months before the release of this disc, dying in hospital in Vancouver on July 21, 2005.

But the important thing is that great artists -- even mediocre or poor artists, for that matter, live on after their deaths through their works.

An example -- I was just listening to "Before the Moon", a Fairport Convention live recording from 1974 featuring the late great Sandy Denny, who died in 1978; but there was her incredible voice and music, right there for me to hear for the very first time, thirty-one years later.

And so it will be with Long John; with any luck, as long as there are blues fans, Baldry's work will be available to electrify our consciousness.

Long John (at 6' 7", there weren't any other nicknames more likely) Baldry was born in England in 1941, and by the time he was twenty, he was spreading the gospel of the blues.

It is virtually certain that, without Baldry's influence, the growth of British blues would have been rather different; one almost wonders if there would have been any significant Brit blues movement (or English Invasion, as we know it) at all.

Consider the following list of some of the early bands that Baldry either formed or fronted vocally, and of some of the people who were in them:

1962-Blues Incorporated
Mick Jagger
Alexis Korner
Jack Bruce
Charlie Watts
Notes: Brian Jones, Keith Richards, and Paul Jones (also appeared with Blues Incorporated)

1963-Cyril Davis and The All Stars
Jimmy Page
Nicky Hopkins

1964/65- Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men
Rod Stewart

1965/66- The Steam Packet
Rod Stewart
Brian Auger

1966-1968 -Bluesology
Reg Dwight (later known as Elton John)

(Reg Dwight took the "John" part of his stage name from Long John.)

So, when it came time to make this album (and "It Ain't Easy", which, i believe, came out the year before) there were a lot of old mates Long John could call on, and two of them -- the afore-mentioned Messrs. Stewart and Dwight -- each produced one side of both LPs, and contributed performances, as well.

"Mother Ain't Dead", a folk-gospel, with Stewart and Baldry duetting, is almost painfully beautiful.

"Wild Mountain Thyme" is a lovely reading of what i believe is a semi-genuine Scottish folk song.

"Iko Iko" is a New Orleansy, hard-edged, percussion/guitar driven call-and-response number (The MP3 can be downloaded at the official Long John Baldry website, and i heartily recommend it.); somewhere in my collection, i have a recording of "Iko Iko" featuring Professor Longhair and Gatemouth Brown, and i think Baldry's is the better.

The title song is a British music hall number from some revue from the 30's or 40's -- a nice change of pace, and the intro, portraying Baldry as a Power in the music industry (John Lennon is begging him to use one of his songs on his next album...) being driven totally up the wall by the pressures of fame, surviving the day only because "Everything Stops for Tea" is nicely silly. (BTW, pianist Ian Armit supplies the voice of hopeful songwriter, "Mr. Lennon")

I haven't heard any of the bonus tracks, but if "I'm Just a Rake & Ramblin' Boy" is the Ramblin' Jack Elliott song i suspect it is, i look forward to it with great anticipation. (It was, though it turns out to have not been written by Elliott. OTOH, it's still a great song, well-served here.)

An interesting thing about "Iko Iko" is that it's a classic example of the folk process in action, even in the age of recording and archiving, which is suposed to freeze the music once it's recorded and released.

The first hit recording was by new Orleans/New York girl group, the Dixie Cups, who were goofing in the studio between sessions, not realising that the mikes were on, and accidentally laid down what became the master track of a Mardi Gras Indian call & response chant learned from their mother that was eventually their final Top 40 hit. An article about it and an MP3 of the Dixie Cups' original is available on line -- notice how different Long John's version is.

Based solely on the original content from 1972, let alone the neet-sounding bonus tracks, you need this album.

(BTW -- the cover painting, portraying Baldry as the Mad Hatter in an "Alice in Wonderland" setting, is by Ron Wood. Yes, that Ron Wood.)
My interests are broadranging -- comics, music, movies and good ol' science fiction mostly dominate. My Five Most Favouritest Films are (this week) Once Upon A Time in the West, Dark Star, O Lucky Man, Day for Night and Whatever I Watched Recently That Was Good. Currently that's Day for Night.

My Photo
Name: mike weber
Location: gainesville, Georgia, United States

Latter fifties, married, out of work (had knee surgery and haven't gotten back to work); my (step) son-in-law is back from Iraq, but a lot of boys are still over there. Support our troops -- throw the Republicans out!

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / February 2007 / August 2007 / April 2008 /

  • Baby pics; My [step] granddaughter.
  • Experiments in stereo (3D) imaging
  • Cowboy Mouth: Butt-Kickin' New Orleans Rock'n'Roll
  • Fairport Convention -- Pretty much the founders of modern Brit folk-rock
  • The Radio Ranch: Dick ("Chickenman") Orkin's freelance radio production facility
  • Laire of the Elecktronick Tyger -- my Web Page, such as it is. Book, movie, CD and comics reviews
  • My Amazon profile. Read my reviews. Buy things.
  • Long John Baldry: Arguably the most important force in the early days of British Blues.
  • Dark Star (DVD) -- See where George Lucas got some of his ideas.
  • Fallen Angel (TPB) Collects the first 6 (of 20) issues of the DC run.
  • Google News
  • The Nutbar Files:
  • 911: The "True" Story
  • A Typical "Moon Hoax" site
  • Powered by Blogger

    This requires a Java-enabled browser.
    Terror Alert Level
    Alert Level
    Cost of the War in Iraq to Date
    (JavaScript Error)

    Try - share your musical tastes, find others who share them, and generally interact in a music-oriented on-line community.

    My Blogroll
    (some ringers)

    DISCLAIMER: Unless unambiguously noted, all opinions expressed on this blog are those of the owner/author.  ***   The author's opinions do not represent those of his employers (if he had any), nor of anyone else beside himself, including his wife, mother, step-daughter or infant step-grand-daughter.  ***   All original material is copyrighted and property of the author.  If you use it at least have the decency to give me credit for it.  Don’t steal it or I reserve the right to irritate you to heck and back, to tell everyone in the blogosphere you're a big poopyhead, or even to sue.  ***   Other info may have been copyrighted by someone else; the author believes that such work as is quoted here does not exceed reasonable "fair use" of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes..  ***   Opinions in comments or trackbacks are not mine, so if you have a problem with those, sorry, I can’t help you.  Did the jerk you're honked off with leave a URL or e-mail? If so, go bug him.  ***   Anyone mentioned in relation to a crime is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.  ***   Contact: fairportfan AT All e-mails are presumed to be for publication on the site unless I am specifically told otherwise.  ***   All comments are subject to deletion, revision or derision should the author find them offensive, irrelevant or just simply take a dislike to you.  ***   Trolling is not tolerated.  Trolls will be savagely mocked one time and then ignored.  ***   This disclaimer modeled (with extra added snarkiness) on that of "Queer Conservative".