April 30, 2002

Majority Believes in ESP

from the watch-me-bend-this-spoon dept.

A new survey conducted by the National Science Foundation finds that belief in "pseudoscience" is relatively widespread and growing among Americans. Among the other goodies contained in the results is the interesting factoid that only 45% of those surveyed knew that the statement "Lasers work by focusing sound waves" is false. (Hint: Think light, people.)

Posted by jbc at 11:55 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Darryl Strawberry Gets 18 Months

from the victimless-crimes dept.

After violating his probation for the sixth time, former baseball star Darryl Strawberry has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. His crime in this case was that he broke the rules of the residential treatment center he was staying at by 1) smoking, 2) having sex with a resident, and 3) trading baseballs for cigarettes. Whew; good thing we've got him back behind bars.

Posted by jbc at 02:20 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

'Bondwoman's Narrative' Authorship Researched

from the slavery-from-the-inside dept.

An interesting (to me, at least) story is the effort to identify the author of The Bondwoman's Narrative, a novel written in the 1850s that describes the life of a fugitive slave. Although accounts of slave life have a long history in this country, with early works like Uncle Tom's Cabin having been among the bestsellers of their day, nearly all of those books, even those purportedly written by blacks, were actually written by whites. The Bondwoman's Narrative is different, though; experts believe the novel may actually have been written by an escaped slave. One of the most interesting pieces of evidence: the way the author introduces black characters simply as people, not bothering to mention their blackness until subsequent events in the story make it clear.

Posted by jbc at 02:02 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

McCartney Halts Auction of 'Hey Jude' Lyrics

from the antiques-roadshow dept.

Paul McCartney (excuse me; Sir Paul McCartney) has obtained a court injunction halting an auction of the original handwritten lyrics to 'Hey Jude', claiming the lyrics had disappeared from his home under mysterious circumstances. The best part of the story is the original response given by Christie's, the auction house, which had appraised the value of the sheet of notebook paper at more than $100,000: that if Sir Paul wanted his lyrics back, he should just bid on them at the auction. The judge said, uh, no.

Posted by jbc at 01:52 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jesse Ventura On the Ropes

from the schadenfreude dept.

Jesse Ventura, the former professional wrestler and political independent who won the Minnesota governor's race a few years back, has been facing some political setbacks lately (budget problems, a disdainful legislature, and low poll numbers), and his opponents in the mainstream political parties are piling on.

Posted by jbc at 01:42 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wiccagate Probe Urged

from the freedom-of-worship dept.

From the L.A. Times comes the story of a recent pagan ceremony in Lancaster, CA, that was disrupted by Satan-fearing Christians who surrounded the pagans, quoted scripture at them, and blared Christian pop tunes. The pagans called the sheriff's department, but either because the disrupters included people with ties to the department, or because the sheriffs were just too darned busy (depending on who you ask), no one responded for more than four hours. Now the pagans want the disrupters prosecuted under hate-crime laws, but apparently the law only protects religious services conducted inside a "tax-exempt building."

Posted by jbc at 01:29 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 29, 2002

Chinese Chef Busted for Opium Seasoning

from the wonder-if-it's-one-of-the-Colonel's-11-secret-herbs-and-spices dept.

From Guardian Unlimited comes the story of Bi Jingxiang, the owner of a restaurant in Beijing, who has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for sprinkling ground opium on his spicy fish dishes. The District People's Court apparently didn't buy his claim that the drug is a traditional condiment renowned in his hometown for its many beneficial effects.

Posted by jbc at 09:16 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dean To Out Deep Throat

from the silly.-everyone-knows-it-was-Hal-Holbrook. dept.

John Dean, the Nixon lawyer who served four months in prison for his role in the Watergate cover-up, has announced that on June 17, the 30th anniversary of the break-in, he will spill the beans on who "Deep Throat" really was. (For those of tender years who don't remember Watergate, Deep Throat was the shadowy guy in the parking structure who gave sinister dramatic hints to Redford - er, Woodward - on where the bodies were buried in the White House, allowing the Washington Post to keep the story in the headlines until Nixon went batshit and resigned.)

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Yarkoni Shunned for Criticizing Israeli Army

from the questioning-authority dept.

The L.A. Times has the story of Yaffa Yarkoni, a 77-year-old Israeli singer well-known for her renditions of patriotic songs. Interviewed on radio shortly after she viewed images of the destruction in Jenin, Yarkoni criticized the West Bank incursion, likening Israeli actions to that of the Nazis during World War II. "We are a people who have been through the Holocaust. How are we capable of doing these things?" In response, the Israeli performing artists' union cancelled a scheduled tribute to Yarkoni, her own performances have been cancelled, and she reportedly has received so much hate mail and so many angry phone calls that she now fears to appear in public.

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April 28, 2002

Review: Who's Who in Hell

from the get-your-obituaries-here dept.

From The Observer comes a review of Who's Who in Hell, journalist Robert Chalmers' new novel that focuses on the adventures of newspaper obituary writers. Or something like that; I got a bit lost part way through the review. But it still sounds fun.

Posted by jbc at 05:27 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lerner: Jewish Critics of Israel Not 'Self-Hating'

from the convenient-labels,-pesky-facts dept.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, a leader of the Tikkun community, has an excellent opinion piece in today's L.A. Times: Israel's Jewish Critics Aren't 'Self-Hating'.

Posted by jbc at 03:59 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Blueprint for Gulf War II

from the just-like-the-last-gulf-war,-only-better dept.

The New York Times (via the Financial Times) has a story outlining likely scenarios for dubya's upcoming Gulf War: The Motion Picture. Originally the plan had been to launch the war this fall, but now the big thinkers have pushed the war's debut back to early 2003, with the extra months being used to wrap up that pesky Israeli-Palestinian plot line.

Posted by jbc at 02:43 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

NRA Claims Responsibility for Dubya Election

from the bragging-or-complaining? dept.

The National Rifle Association claimed responsibility for the latest Bush presidency at the organization's annual convention yesterday. By denying Gore votes in gun-happy states like Arkansas, West Virginia, and Tennessee, the theory goes, the NRA played a critical role in conveying the election to Bush. True enough, I suppose, but no greater a role than was played by Ralph Nader, Jeb Bush, Kathleen Harris, and the U.S. Supreme Court in giving dubya that little Florida "victory." Anyway, the story reminds me of the child-gun safety lecture I attended the other day, and the funny/scary bumper sticker my friend Conner told me about: "You can have my gun when you pry it from my curious 8-year-old's cold, lifeless fingers."

Posted by jbc at 02:19 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 27, 2002

International Spy Museum to Open

from the spy-vs.-spy dept.

Coming soon to the nation's capital: the International Spy Museum, where visitors will reportedly be assigned new identities upon arrival, then will be quizzed during their visit to see how well they remember their cover stories. Mm, okay.

Posted by jbc at 03:02 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Four Arrested in Who Wants To Be a Millionaire Scam

from the cheaters-never-prosper dept.

A fourth person has been arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation into alleged cheating on the Who Wants To Be a Millionaire television program - the original, British version, not the American version with Regis Philbin that is (thankfully) no longer running 24/7 this side of the Pond. Investigators believe that contestant Major Charles Ingram was helped to win by a conspirator planted in the audience who used carefully timed coughs to feed him the answers.

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April 26, 2002

Man Bites Dog

from the well,-slamms-him dept.

It's basically just a sad story about someone with poor self-control taking his frustrations out on his pet, but I'm passing on this link for another reason: It's an object lesson in my own stupidity. See, I saw the headline Fort Lauderdale man jailed in puppy slammming death, and immediately had to follow it to find out what this weird new verb ("slammming") referred to; obviously it was some new street argot I hadn't picked up on before this. It didn't occur to me that a mainstream news site like the Miami Herald's, with a fancy serifed type treatment on their logo and everything, would let a simple typo like that propagate to the four corners of the Web.

Posted by jbc at 09:44 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mapping the Mind of Bill Gates

from the better-bring-your-GPS dept.

Andrew Orlowski at The Register has a cool piece where he tells it like it is with respect to Bill Gates' antitrust testimony. Word.

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Squirrel Intifada at Stanford

from the cute,-furry...-and-deadly dept.

From Yahoo News comes the story of suicidal squirrels that have taken to leaping out into the path of oncoming cyclists at Stanford University. Students are reportedly suffering mental trauma over the attacks, causing some to question the morality of their own presence on the 8,180-acre campus. "The squirrels were here first, I know, but I need an education, don't I?" sobbed Katie Founds, distraught after nearly biking over the body of a dead squirrel. Meanwhile, the school's administration says it will not be intimidated by the rodent onslaught. "We will never give in to terror," vowed University President John Hennessy.

Posted by jbc at 03:07 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

No Sanity Test for Love

from the judges-are-no-fun dept.

Killing a very funny story before it even had a chance, Judge Robert Alsdorf has ruled that celebrity widow Courtney Love does not have to undergo psychiatric testing. The testing had been requested by the two surviving members of Nirvana, who are engaged in a long-running legal dispute with Love over the Nirvana back catalog, and who argued in court that her mental problems were causing her to make irrational business decisions.

Posted by jbc at 02:04 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Alternative to Big Bang Theory Offered

from the science-messing-with-our-heads-again dept.

Challenging the widely held theory that the universe came into existence in a Big Bang, physicists Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok have proposed that instead, the universe has undergone an endless series of expansions and contractions. I'm not sure why, but these sorts of cosmological debates always strike me as funny. Your mileage may (almost certainly will) vary.

Posted by jbc at 01:57 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Student Sues Over Drug-Humor Suspension

from the don't-make-me-come-over-there dept.

Joseph Frederick, in addition to suffering the stigma of having two first names, was suspended from his high school recently after he hoisted a banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" at an off-campus event. Now he, along with the Alaska Civil Liberties Union, are suing the school for violating his free-speech rights. Among the things the suit alleges is that the school's principal doubled Frederick's 5-day suspension to 10 days after the boy quoted Thomas Jefferson to her.

Posted by jbc at 01:43 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 25, 2002

Get Your War On

from the why-am-I-always-the-last-to-know? dept.

I realize it's very much old news to anyone with half a clue, but I just discovered Get Your War On, and have been ROFLMAO as a result. Those who are offended by harsh language need not apply, though something tells me those of you who fall into that category wouldn't enjoy it much, anyway.

Posted by jbc at 11:06 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Bull Semen Collection 101

from the animal-husbandry-(or-maybe-wifery) dept.

My weather-obsessed acquaintance Imagery slid this one my way: Nerve.com's interview with Dr. Steve Wickler, a Cal Poly prof who teaches courses in collecting semen from bulls. It's a big, freaky world out there, people.

Posted by jbc at 04:09 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

IWC Meeting Opens in Japan

from the would-you-like-blubber-with-that? dept.

Japan is reportedly pushing hard for a resumption of commercial whaling at the just-opened annual conference of the International Whaling Commission. This would allow an expansion of Japan's "harvesting" of whales beyond the 400 to 500 they currently kill each year for "scientific research" purposes. Japan's IWC representatives claim that whales are becoming so numerous that they pose a threat to the world's fish populations. I was going to invent an absurd quotation on that, but then decided there wouldn't be any point. The whole thing is thoroughly depressing, anyway.

Posted by jbc at 02:11 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 24, 2002

French Fries, Potato Chips Carcinogenic, Study Finds

from the would-you-like-cancer-with-that? dept.

A new study carried out at Stockholm University has determined that deep-fried and oven-baked carbohydrates contain dangerously high levels of acrylamide, a "probable human carcinogen." Not to worry, though; the researchers determined that the carcinogens are not created when the same foods are prepared by boiling. So, boiled fries, anyone?

Posted by jbc at 07:41 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dubya's Earth Day Imagery

from the day-late-and-a-dollar-short dept.

I realize Earth Day is so two days ago, but I can't stop turning over the images in my head: dubya with an axe, dubya with a hammer, and wondering: is that really the message he wanted to send? I mean, most politicians try to plant a tree on Earth Day, not chop one down and turn it into tract housing. Yes, I realize that's not what dubya was actually doing during the photo op; he was "building a trail" and "repairing a bridge," but still, that's the image he conveyed: Earth Day = dubya wielding an axe and hammer. And after mulling those images over for a while, I'm convinced that yup, that's exactly the message he wanted to send. He was making a statement, aimed directly at Al Gore and his tree-hugging friends: conserve this, conservationists. So, while I disagree with the message, definite style points for dubya.

Posted by jbc at 07:17 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Atlanta Police Consider Buying Segways

from the stop-or-I'll-scoot! dept.

From CNN comes this story about various groups in Atlanta that are considering buying Segways, the pricey scooters that fueled widespread speculation as to their nature (when they were just a rumored society-changing invention) and then a collective head-scratch (when they were actually unveiled). The Atlanta PD actually isn't one of the groups listed in the article, but the accompanying photo shows two police officers testing Segways, and I'd already written my headline, so I just said fuck it, and left the headline unchanged. Don't you hate me sometimes? Oh, and I also like the comment late in the article about how the Georgia state legislature has passed a law limiting Segways, which have a nominal top speed of 15 mph, to no more than 7 mph when traveling on sidewalks. The new law joins earlier laws, still on the books in Georgia, limiting horseless carriages to the average speed of a horse-drawn cart, and limiting flying machines to flying no higher than an adult man can jump from a standing start.

Posted by jbc at 04:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Elmo Testifies Before Congress

from the symbolic-on-more-levels-than-one dept.

Sesame Street's Elmo, the perpetually three-year-old Muppet with no impulse control, testified before Congress yesterday, telling the House's Education Appropriations Subcommittee that funding for children's music education was an important issue. As ymatt, who brought the story to my attention, observed, "I guess Congress is used to having puppets give testimony." I also like the nice angle the photographers got as Elmo tried to eat his microphone; makes a nice followup to yesterday's photo of Christie Kerr kissing her golf trophy, don't you think?

Posted by jbc at 04:12 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Onion on Events in the Middle East

from the the-new-Onion's-here,-the-new-Onion's-here! dept.

It's always a joyous occasion for me when a new Onion comes out; the latest features a very cool post-mortem on recent events in the Holy Lands: Mideast Peace Process Derailed, Burned To Ground, Shoveled Over With Dirt. (In case you hadn't noticed, lies.com wants very much to be just like the Onion when it grows up.)

Posted by jbc at 04:05 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Israel Retracts Agreement to Jenin Probe

from the had-my-fingers-crossed dept.

Less than a week after Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said his country would welcome a U.N. fact-finding mission in Jenin, proclaiming that "Israel has nothing to hide regarding the operation in Jenin...our hands are clean," Israel has retracted its agreement to the probe. After a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, an Israeli government spokesperson explained that "when the Israeli government said it would welcome a probe by a U.N. commission into events at Jenin, that should not have been taken to imply that we would actually welcome a probe by a U.N. commission into events at Jenin."

Posted by jbc at 02:17 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 23, 2002

Play Based on Saddam Hussein Novel to Open in Baghdad This Week

from the what-he-really-wants-to-do-is-direct dept.

A romantic novel widely believed to have been written by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has been turned into a play that will open this week in the Iraqi National Theater. The novel, titled Zabibah and the King, is the story of a king who falls in love with an unhappily married woman. The woman in the story is raped on January 17 - the same day the U.S.-led attack on Iraq began in 1991 - after which the king captures the rapists, restores the woman's honor, and dies. Although the novel was published anonymously, the enthusiastic reviews it received in the state-controlled Iraqi media left most observers convinced it was actually written by Saddam.

Posted by jbc at 02:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Painting Fuels Speculation That Shakespeare Was Gay

from the much-ado-about-not-a-hell-of-a-lot dept.

From Reuters comes this story of a 16th-century portrait, long believed to be of a British noblewoman, but now believed to show a foppish male friend and patron of William Shakespeare, leading London tabloids to speculate that The Bard was actually light in the loafers. Asked for comment on his supposed outing, Shakespeare would only say, "The course of true love never did run straight - er, smooth. Never did run smooth."

Posted by jbc at 02:22 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Moussaoui Trial Opens with a Bang

from the one-out-of-two-ain't-bad dept.

The trial of suspected 9/11 collaborator Zacarias Moussaoui opened in Alexandria, VA, yesterday, and things immediately became interesting as the Moroccan-derived Frenchman asked to be heard, then launched into an hour-long diatribe against his jailers, the prosecution, his defense lawyers, the judge, prospective jurors, the U.S., Israel, and Russia. Claiming he could not be represented properly by his non-Muslim court-appointed defenders, he asked to be allowed to use the $30,000 he has in the bank (currently frozen as suspected al Queda assets) to hire a Muslim lawyer, or, barring that, to be allowed to represent himself. He also asked for a computer and better lighting in his jail cell. Finally, he asked that he be allowed to waive trial by jury, instead having his case (and potential death sentence) decided solely by Judge Leonie Brinkema. Brinkema said okay on the computer and better-lighting requests, ordered a psychiatric evaluation to determine if Moussaoui was fit to represent himself, and said she'd get back to him on the waived jury thing.

Posted by jbc at 01:54 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Gates Keeps Cool in First Day of Testimony

from the who-do-you-want-to-snow-today? dept.

Projecting a meek, mild-mannered image, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates testified in the company's antitrust trial yesterday, impressing observers with his failure to even once accuse the judge, the prosecution, or his company's competitors of being idiots. In a move that turned out badly in terms of the hearing's entertainment value, Brendan Sullivan did not conduct the nine holdout states' cross-examination, leaving that instead to antitrust expert Steve Kuney. Bummer. Gates will continue testifying today.

Posted by jbc at 01:32 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 22, 2002

Dr. Richard Paley on Evolutionist Propaganda

from the chmod-666-and-pray dept.

Awesome person Janus brought the following to my attention: Dr. Richard Paley's essay pointing out the evil, Satanic influences in both PBS's current "Evolution" series and the OS X operating system from Apple Computer. It's hard for me to decide if Dr. Paley is serious, or is just out to yank our collective chain. I suspect he might himself be serious in trying to save us from godless evolutionism and Macintoshes, but is being made fun of without his realizing it by the people feeding him his information. For example: "According to one of our readers, the new MacOS X contains another Satanic holdover from the 'BSD Unix' OS mentioned above; to open up certain locked files one has to run a program much like the DOS prompt in Microsoft Windows and type in a secret code: 'chmod 666'. What other horrors lurk in this thing?" What horrors indeed.

Posted by jbc at 07:57 AM | view/comment (38) | TrackBack (0)

Christie Kerr Kisses Her... Trophy

from the no-comment dept.

From Yahoo News comes this interesting photograph of golfer Christie Kerr celebrating her first-ever win on the LPGA tour at the Longs Drug Challenge in Lincoln, CA, yesterday. I'm not saying anything. Update: Damn that Yahoo News. Don't they know that URLs are sacrosanct? Anyway, here's another (smaller) version of the same photo.

Posted by jbc at 06:38 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Bill Gates to Testify Today

from the kinder,-gentler-Microsoft dept.

So, today's the big day for Bill Gates, who will testify in person for the first time as part of the marathon antitrust proceedings against Microsoft. He'll be cross-examined by Brendan Sullivan, the lawyer who represented Ollie North during the Iran-Contra hearings, and who famously remarked, when being told to let Ollie object for himself, "I'm not a potted plant. Iím here as the lawyer. That's my job." This could be good.

Posted by jbc at 02:59 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Brownstein on Dubya's Heart/Mind Battle

from the I-think-the-mind-is-outgunned dept.

Ronald Brownstein has a nice piece in today's L.A. Times that focuses on the ongoing struggle between dubya's heart (which wants to listen to hawks like Cheney and Rumsfeld, and just start blowing shit up in Iraq), and his head (which wants to listen to folks like Colin Powell, who says we need to work for a diplomatic solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict first).

Posted by jbc at 02:18 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dubya, Gore to Deliver Dueling Earth Day Speeches

from the round-one-of-the-rematch? dept.

As described by this story from SF Gate, dubya and Al Gore will both be delivering Earth Day speeches today, providing a cool opportunity to compare the presidential candidate who won the popular vote with the one who won the vote in the Supreme Court. Speaking of the upcoming verbal duel, dubya spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "The president has a strong record on the environment, and the environment is one of the reasons he defeated Al Gore in the election of 2000." Really.

Posted by jbc at 01:54 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Attempt to Arrest Kissinger for War Crimes Fails

from the what-doesn't-kill-you...-raises-your-speaking-fees dept.

In an interesting followup to the story I posted the other day (on how Henry Kissinger's lies on Angola and Cuba have recently been exposed), a British activist has been denied in his bid to have a court issue a warrant for the arrest of Henry Kissinger. Kissinger, who is due to address a gathering in London's Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday, was the chief architect of U.S. foreign policy during the period when the Nixon administration conducted indiscriminate bombing of civilian populations in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam; human rights activist Peter Tatchell says that's a violation of the Geneva Convention, and wants Hank arrested. District Judge Nicholas Evans declined to act, however, saying Tatchell needed the backing of Britain's Attorney General, something he currently lacks.

Posted by jbc at 01:36 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 21, 2002

Five Aussies Arrested for 4/20 Irreverence

from the don't-bogart-that...-whatever-that-is dept.

From Reuters (via Yahoo News) comes the story of five Australian drug activists arrested for publicly smoking what appeared to be a 36-inch joint. Except it actually wasn't; a spokesman explained that the item was simply a prop made with tobacco and "legal herbs". Police were unimpressed, saying the protesters would be charged anyway, for resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and, especially, for making them look stupid.

Posted by jbc at 06:21 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Love Competence Questioned by Nirvana Survivors

from the here-we-are-now.-entertain-us. dept.

Bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer David Grohl have charged Courtney Love (widow of dead Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain) with incompetence. They want a psychiatric evaluation performed to determine if Love's alleged craziness is responsible for the trouble they have been having in wringing enough cash from the corpse of Nirvana for them to live a life of ease. My take? No, they just suck.

Posted by jbc at 02:31 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

The Telegraph's Version of Jenin

from the inching-closer-to-truth dept.

From news.telegraph.co.uk comes yet another version of the Israeli Defense Forces' behavior in Jenin. This one, like the earlier one I posted from the Jerusalem Post, is very much from the Israeli point of view, being based mainly on interviews with soldiers and officers who were on the scene, and taking pains to defend their actions, but unlike that one, it acknowledges many of the less-savory realities that other accounts have described: buildings bulldozed with innocents inside, Palestinian civilians used as human shields by IDF soldiers, and wounded Palestinians bleeding to death while Israeli gunfire kept emergency medical personnel from reaching them.

Posted by jbc at 02:19 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Steve Bing Questions Hurley Baby's Paternity

from the how-does-it-feel-to-be...-one-of-the-beautiful...-people dept.

Old news to you celebrity watchers, of course, but I guess it's time to acknowledge the ongoing sniping taking place over the paternity of actress Elizabeth Hurley's new baby. The Independent has the latest info, describing how movie producer Steve Bing is going to court in an effort to establish the paternity of the baby, Damian, born last month. This seems odd, since, at least according to the Hurley camp, she's never objected to having the baby's paternity established. My own prediction: yeah, Bing's probably the father - unfortunately for the child, who gets to look forward to having a real wanker for a dad.

Posted by jbc at 02:15 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tonya Harding Arrested for Drunk Driving

from the if-it-ain't-one-thing-it's-another dept.

Fresh from the ass-whupping she gave Paula Jones as part of Fox's Celebrity Boxing event, Tonya Harding is back in the news today for having lost control of her pickup, crashed into a ditch, and failed the subsequent breathalyzer test. Some people have the worst luck.

Posted by jbc at 02:03 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

April 20, 2002

The Real Story on 420

from the posted-at-4:20-(UT)-on-4/20,-no-less dept.

From the LA Times comes an article describing the cultural phenomenon of "420" (or 4:20, or 4/20) as a reference to pot smoking. No, it turns out not to be a police code, or a reference to Hitler's birthday. The real story of where the term came from is a pretty cool example, though, of how weird associations like this come into being. Something to think about at 4:20 today...

Posted by jbc at 04:20 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Video Proves Moon Landings a Fake!

from the NOW-how-much-would-you-pay? dept.

Courtesy Google's AdWords program comes this site purporting to sell a video showing the Apollo 11 astronauts faking their flight to the moon. Only $19.95, and it comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. Pretty cool, huh? While you're there, don't miss the Top 10 Reasons Why No Man Has Ever Set Foot on the Moon.

Posted by jbc at 03:45 AM | view/comment (58) | TrackBack (0)

Military Seeks Exemption from Environmental Rules

versicherungsvergleich und private krankenversicherung

Posted by jbc at 03:12 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Kissinger's Lies on Angola

from the falsehood-is-the-ultimate-aphrodesiac dept.

An historian from Johns Hopkins named Piero Gleijeses, working with newly obtained documents, has exposed an official U.S. lie from the 1970s: that South African troops invaded Angola on their own, without our help, and only in response to a prior, Soviet-backed invasion by Cuba. Actually, according to the evidence turned up by Gleijeses, and published in his new book Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976, the truth was exactly the opposite: the U.S. helped plan and carry out the South African incursion, and the Cuban troops arrived only afterward, and without prior Soviet knowledge or assistance (though the Soviets did help later on). Kissinger, as Gerald Ford's Secretary of State at the time, was the Administration's point man on spreading the official version of reality, a lie to which he has never admitted, and probably won't have to now. Which is pretty much the way these big lies work: you don't have to keep the truth secret forever, just long enough (25 years, in this case) so that the only people who still care about it are stuffy academics and conspiracy junkies.

Posted by jbc at 02:15 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

April 19, 2002

The American Standard Type R

from the on-the-net,-everyone-knows-your-car-is-a-toilet dept.

Mark Leinhos would be just another sad, twisted example of car-obsessed American youth, except he apparently also has a sense of humor, which led him to create a web-based tribute to his toilet (along with all the obligatory glamour photos of his extensively modified Mazda Miata). Follow the pics of me on my ride link at your own risk, however.

Posted by jbc at 03:42 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dubya's Lying in Context

from the they-don't-tell-'em-like-they-used-to dept.

Michael Kinsley has a column in the Washington Post today that talks about the various lying styles of our past three Presidents. The sad conclusion is that, for the most part, dubya so far has failed to live up to the standard of his predecessors in this all-important area of national leadership. He just trots out Ari Fleischer and has him mouth, deadpan, some ridiculous assertion that no one could possibly believe. Where's the fun in that? Where's the sense of style that gave us "read my lips: no new taxes" and "that woman, Miss Lewinsky"? Sigh. Those were the days.

Posted by jbc at 02:24 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Cats Landing on Feet Google Answer

from the I-(heart)-google dept.

Yet another use for everyone's favorite search engine: asking (and receiving expert answers to) obscure questions about animals. Like, at what height will a cat NOT land on its feet?. My favorite part of this answer is the bit about the rumored "buttered-toast-cat antigravity device": "Buttered toast always lands buttered side down; cats always land feet first; tie a piece of buttered toast onto the back of a cat and it can never hit the floor!"

Posted by jbc at 12:57 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 18, 2002

Powell Fails, World Notices

from the downhill-from-here dept.

So, Colin Powell has come, seen, and fled, prompting a chorus of bitching from just about everyone. As reported in news.com.au, Arab news accounts are being way scathing, painting the U.S. as an accomplice to massacre, and saying the Administration's only purpose in sending Powell was to give Sharon political cover in order to sew up the Jewish vote in the upcoming U.S. midterm elections. In Britain's Guardian Unlimited, Simon Tisdall says Sharon knew full well that Powell lacked his boss's backing, and therefore could ignore him with impunity. Meanwhile, the Boston Globe pursues the "what next?" angle, anticipating a fierce debate as dubya's handlers try to herd his tiny mind in one direction or another.

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The Jerusalem Post on Jenin

from the same-rubble,-different-spin dept.

Margot Dudkevitch, writing for the Jerusalem Post, has a different take on what happened in Jenin. I especially like the part about how the soldiers gave the women and children candy and escorted them to safety inside a building, only to be ambushed by terrorists hiding inside. I hate it when that happens.

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The Economist on Jenin

from the rubble-and-corpses dept.

Now that journalists are being allowed back into the Jenin refugee camp, more stories are coming out. While most focus on the horrific conditions reporters are able to see firsthand, a consistent undercurrent is the question of just what took place there over the past two weeks, in particular the treatment of civilian noncombatants by Israeli troops pursuing Palestinian fighters. While the consensus is that we'll never really know for sure, the facts that are emerging, such as they are, aren't pretty. The Economist has a good story on it: What Happened at Jenin: Under the Rubble of the Refugee Camp.

Posted by jbc at 01:21 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

French Prime Minister Squirted with Ketchup

from the would-you-like-fries-with-that? dept.

From Ananova comes this cool photo+story showing what kids do for fun in France these days: they squirt ketchup on the prime minister. After the attack the PM apparently escorted the kids outside and gave them a stern talking-to, after which they reportedly were "very sheepish". This contrasts with the likely aftermath if a pair of U.S. teens tried that on dubya; in our current hyper-vigilant climate I doubt there'd be enough of them left for their parents to identify.

Posted by jbc at 12:17 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 17, 2002

Mother Claims Acne Drug Drove Son to Suicide Flight

from the where-to-start? dept.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is one of several sites carrying the story of a lawsuit filed by Julia Bishop, the mother of the 15-year-old boy who last January wrote a note praising Osama bin Laden, then flew a private plane into a Tampa office building. In her suit, which targets drug company Hoffmann-La Roche, Bishop claims that her son, an otherwise happy, well-adjusted child, was made psychotic by use of the company's Accutane acne medication. Although Accutane has been associated with suicide, and carries a warning label to that effect, the company's position is that teenage acne sufferers are simply more prone to suicide than the general population. "We continue, as do the experts, to believe there is no link," said company spokeswoman Carolyn Glynn.

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ABC News on 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

from the beware-the-alien-dubya-menace dept.

ABC News is running a pretty interesting article that looks at the wave of conspiracy theories that have sprung up around the 9/11 attacks, including that of a French author who claims the Pentagon was not actually hit by a plane, but was instead bombed, and even nuttier stuff about aliens, dubya conspiring with bin Laden, and so on and so forth. The article quotes experts who say conspiracy theories are an essential part of the American character, and points out how the Internet makes it so any wacko with some HTML skillz (/me waves cheerfully to the folks at home) can come off as being just as credible as, say, the New York Times, causing people to become even more unstuck than they otherwise would be.

Posted by jbc at 04:54 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

AMD Chief Admits Being Ignorant Stooge

from the hey,-you-write-the-headlines,-then dept.

Under cross-examination as part of the ongoing antitrust proceedings between Microsoft and the nine holdout states, Advanced Micro Devices CEO W.J. "Jerry" Sanders III admitted yesterday that he had not actually read either of the proposed settlements (either the original wrist-slap from dubya's emasculated Justice Department, or the ensuing tougher one from the nine states) before trashing the latter in court. Instead, his testimony was based solely on a phone call he had with Bill Gates, in which the Microsoft chairman told him the states' plan was "crazy". Sanders explained that during the same call Gates had agreed to announce Microsoft support for AMD's next-generation microchip, which, Sanders testified, "really gave me a hard-on. I mean, this is Microsoft we're talking about. I'd sell my soul for less than that. Already have, actually."

Posted by jbc at 02:17 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Lurie: Osama bin Laden Is Dead

from the news-of-the-world dept.

Ranan Lurie has an opinion piece in today's L.A. Times where he speculates that Osama bin Laden is dead. He reasons that, given the imperatives of Middle Eastern leadership, which place a premium on developing and maintaining a cult of personality, bin Laden surely would have demonstrated that he is still alive in the latest round of released videotapes, had that been possible. That he is shown only in what appear to be old scenes pre-dating the 9/11 attacks says, to Lurie, that he is either horribly disfigured, deathly ill, or dead, with the last option being the most likely.

Posted by jbc at 02:01 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 16, 2002

Anti-Nudity Effort Fails at Georgia College

from the don't-look-now dept.

According to this story from Ananova, a campus group has failed in its effort to ban two nude scenes from a student play at Kennesaw State University in Georgia. The play is based on John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, and features one character (male) jumping naked into a pond and another character (female) breast-feeding a starving man. Rachel Brooker, head of the school's anti-nudity campaign, vowed to fight on, saying, "If God had wanted us to see each other naked, we wouldn't be born wearing clothes."

Posted by jbc at 08:32 AM | view/comment (5) | TrackBack (0)

Man Breaks Wind During Surgery, Ignites Genitals

from the roasted-nuts dept.

From Ananova comes this account of a Danish man who was having a mole removed from his posterior when he inadvertently released some methane, which came into contact with the electric knife being used by his surgeon. The gas ignited, in turn igniting the alcohol solution he'd been prepped with. Ouch. He's suing now (naturally), for pain and suffering, missed work, and an inability to make love to his wife.

Posted by jbc at 08:15 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kooky 404 Page

from the funny-because-it's-true dept.

From mamselle comes this funny (to me, at least) error message. Actually, I do need some fresh air.

Posted by jbc at 07:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Net Blamed for CD Sales Dip

from the post-hoc-ergo-prompter-hoc dept.

A new study is being cited by the music industry as proof that file-sharing systems and CD burners are hurting sales of music CDs. Interesting how, in the days before they managed to kill off Napster, increased CD sales were happening despite the popular song-swapping service. Now that Napster is gone, the drop in sales is being blamed on the (arguably less useful) services that replaced it. I've got a better explanation: Napster helped CD sales, reacquainting people with their favorite forgotten music and with new music that the suckily degregulated radio industry wasn't exposing them to. It is the record industry itself that is responsible for sowing the seeds of its current harvest of ill-will. Serves them right.

Posted by jbc at 07:02 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Corn: Neocons Pressure Bush on Saddam

from the grinding-ideological-axes dept.

David Corn has an opinion piece at workingforchange.com in which he discusses neoconservatives' growing impatience with dubya on the get-Saddam issue. Leading luminaries of the Right are reportedly growing concerned over the increasing murkiness of the President's thinking on this whole War on Terra thing. The failure to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Sharon in the pursuit of a Palestinian Final Solution sounded the warning bell, and a go-it-alone invasion of Iraq is now emerging as the litmus test, apparently, for whether the hawks will give dubya their support in the next election.

Posted by jbc at 03:46 AM | view/comment (4) | TrackBack (0)

Botox Approved for Cosmetic Use

from the your-government-at-work dept.

The good people at FDA have officially approved Botox, the purified form of botulism bacteria, for cosmetic use, as reported by a story at Canada.com. Doctors have been prescribing it for their Hollywood patients for years, of course, to clear away wrinkles or paralyze sweat glands, under FDA's previous approval for medical use. This new approval means Allergan, the manufacturer, can now advertise the $400 injections specifically as a cosmetic aid. Oh. Goody.

Posted by jbc at 02:01 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Anna Nicole Smith Wants $30 Million More

from the $88-million-doesn't-go-as-far-as-it-used-to dept.

Former Playboy playmate Anna Nicole Smith, who recently won an $88 million judgement against the estate of her fabulously wealthy late husband, is back in court asking for an additional $30 million. Explained Smith, "People don't understand all the expenses I have. I mean, $88 million sounds like a lot of money, but when you actually start adding everything up, it goes pretty fast."

Posted by jbc at 01:45 AM | view/comment (2) | TrackBack (0)

Argentine Ant Supercolony in Europe

from the ants-go-marching-one-by-one-hurrah dept.

CNN is one of several outlets carrying an AP story about a supercolony of Argentine ants that stretches for 3,600 miles along the European coastline from the Italian Riviera to northwest Spain. The ants, which were accidentally introduced to Europe in the 1920s, cooperate with neighboring colonies, rather than competing with them.

Posted by jbc at 01:25 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Truth About Jenin

from the good-luck-on-this-one dept.

Skirmishing continues over the question of how many Palestinians have been killed in the Jenin refugee camp, and in what manner. Israeli military sources put the death toll at "dozens", most of them gunmen shot in house-to-house fighting. Palestinian sources claim "hundreds", many of them civilians, including women and children buried alive as buildings were demolished by Israeli bulldozers and tanks. Some interesting items to appear today are a piece from the Independent, in which a reporter who managed to enter the camp paints a picture very much in line with the Palestinian position, and an editorial from the Jakarta Post, calling for a United Nations investigation. Ananova also has a story about an Amnesty International team that has arrived to investigate.

Posted by jbc at 12:21 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 15, 2002

Applebaum: Dubya's Mideast Initiative in Tatters

from the statement-of-desire-does-not-a-policy-make dept.

Slate's Anne Applebaum has written an opinion piece that points out the obvious about emperor dubya's new Middle East clothes: he isn't wearing any. More specifically, the President's demand that Sharon withdraw from the West Bank immediately, followed by Sharon's casual ignoring of same, has left U.S. prestige in the region at a new low. "If rhetoric could have solved his conflict, it would have been over a long time ago. But in order to create a genuinely new policy, Bush would have to take sides, one way or another, and put his money, or his military, where his mouth is." So far, no sign of either from dubya; it's all mouth so far.

Posted by jbc at 10:30 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thomasson: Let Sharon and Arafat Fight Each Other Directly

from the pay-per-view-rights-alone-would-be-astronomical dept.

It's only mentioned briefly in the course of an otherwise garden-variety piece on the Israelis' and Palestinians' irreconcilable differences, but Dan K. Thomasson has a suggestion for resolving the current Mideast impasse: let Sharon and Arafat fight each other directly. Which I realize is an old idea, but it got me to wondering, seriously, if you did that, which one would win? Arafat isn't getting any younger, but Sharon was carrying some extra pounds the last time I checked.

Posted by jbc at 06:39 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Father Sues Over Daughter's Ecstasy Death

from the another-drug-war-propaganda-related-death dept.

From ABC News comes this 20/20 story about 16-year-old Brandy French, who died after taking Ecstasy for the first time, while the friends who gave her the drug spent hours, literally, trying to decide if they should risk calling 911 or taking her to a hospital. Now the girl's father is suing her friends, hoping to send a message to others who might find themselves in a similar situation. Too bad he didn't name the Partnership for a Drug-Free America in the suit, for the role that organization plays in fostering the environment of fear and ignorance that leads to deaths like these.

Posted by jbc at 02:56 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Panel Calls for Illinois Death Penalty Reforms

from the oops,-goofed-again.-sorry dept.

From Reuters comes the story of a report to be issued soon by the Illinois commission charged with coming up with reforms to reduce the number of innocent people executed in the state. Among the suggestions are the outlawing of convictions based solely on the uncorroborated testimony of accomplices and jailhouse informants, and the videotaping of the entire police interrogation process, rather than just the confession obtained at the end. The commission unanimously concluded that no reforms would eliminate the possibility of innocent people being executed (no reforms short of doing away with the death penalty altogether, that is, a step that a majority of panelists reportedly supported). The commission, which spent two years preparing its report, was impaneled by Illinois Governor George Ryan after DNA testing led to a wave of overturned death-penalty convictions in the state.

Posted by jbc at 02:30 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 14, 2002

Woman Sues Pirate's Booty for Making Her Fat

from the shiver-me-timbers dept.

This story in Ananova caught my eye, in part because I just recently got the Pirate's Booty habit. I was unaware, though, that in January Robert's American Gourmet Food, makers of the snack, recalled it in order to correct an error in its labelling. Previously the label said each serving contains 2.5 grams of fat; in fact, outside testing has revealed that each serving actually contains 8.5 grams of fat. (Though this bag I'm scarfing from now says 5 grams. Hmm...) Anyway, a New York woman, Meredith Berkman, has now sued the company for $50 million, claiming the incorrect labelling made her gain weight. She refuses to say how much weight, exactly, though presumably that will come out if it actually goes to trial.

Posted by jbc at 06:07 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Ganis on Burger King's Veggie Burger

from the replacing-meat-with-chemicals dept.

Food activist Rich Ganis has an op-ed piece in the L.A. Times today (last one, I promise) looking at the new veggie burger announced last month by Burger King. Although the folks from PETA (that's the ethical-treatment PETA people, not the easting-tasty PETA people) think it's a great idea, Ganis disagrees.

Posted by jbc at 04:04 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Syberpunk's Engrish Collection

from the guilty-pleasure dept.

I'm ugly-American enough to get a kick out of Engrish (wacky English, as delivered by our good friends in Japan), and this collection from Syberpunk.com is one of the best I've seen.

Posted by jbc at 03:29 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Balzar to Suckers: Tax Code Is Broken - Badly

from the gubment-do-take-a-bite,-don't-she? dept.

Again from the L.A. Times Opinion section comes this story by John Balzar, titled Only Suckers Pay Taxes. Balzar lays out in painful detail just how badly the tax code in this country is broken, and who's paying the price. Hint: It's not the fat cats. So, anyone remember Jerry Brown's flat-tax proposal? Filling out the back of a postcard looks pretty good right now.

Posted by jbc at 02:58 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Way Old Lies: Go at Throttle Up

from the glad-to-say-I-was-wrong dept.

From March of 1996 comes this story in which I (Perfect Tommy, I mean) talked about the Challenger space shuttle disaster, and predicted that another such calamity would occur in the near future due to NASA budget cuts. Five years later, it's clearly time for an apology to all the hard-working folks at NASA, who've managed to keep their astronauts very much alive since then. I was reminded of the story by a news item about Barbara Morgan, a teacher who was Christa McAuliffe's backup on the original Challenger mission, and who later quit teaching, joined NASA full-time, and now is slated to fly in an upcoming mission. Anyway, follow the link below, or scroll down, to see the original story.


Posted by jbc at 02:53 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Wallerstein on Dubya's Looming Iraq-War Disaster

from the geopolitical-incompetence dept.

The L.A. Times has a fairly scathing op-ed piece from Immanual Wallerstein, in which the Yale University scholar says Bush has painted himself into a corner on Iraq, and now has little choice but to pursue a war with Saddam Hussein that will be a "disaster" for the United States.

Posted by jbc at 02:45 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Al Gore Re-enters Political Arena

from the new,-IMPROVED-Gore dept.

As reported in the Nando Times, Democratic hearts (well, some of them) are a-flutter in the wake of Al Gore's speech yesterday to the Florida Democratic Convention. Gore was clean-shaven and feisty as he offered his support for Bush's ongoing War on Terra, while criticizing the administration on issues like the environment and the squandering of the Social Security surplus.

Posted by jbc at 02:34 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 13, 2002

Charges, Countercharges, Re: Jenin Body Count

from the first-casualty dept.

An interesting, if depressing, story connected with the ongoing Israeli military operation in the West Bank is the war of words regarding the number, and nature, of Palestinian deaths in the Jenin refugee camp. As of yesterday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had announced they were going to start burying the bodies of dead Palestinians; Palestinians cried foul, claiming the IDF was seeking to cover up large-scale massacres of Palestinian civilians. In response, the Israeli Supreme Court issued an injunction last night halting the burials. The dead were unavailable for comment.

Posted by jbc at 07:46 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stephen Hunter Reviews Cameron Diaz

from the with-criticism-like-this,-who-needs-praise? dept.

Washington Post film critic Stephen Hunter has written a delicious review of Cameron Diaz and her new film, The Sweetest Thing. What makes the review so much fun is the way Hunter complains about Diaz's complete lack of acting talent, while admitting that he can't look anywhere else when she's on-screen. Anyway, you shouldn't miss it. (The review, I mean. I wouldn't suggest going anywhere near the movie.)

Posted by jbc at 03:35 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Charges Dismissed in Texas Drug Bust Case

from the lies,-damn-lies,-and-Texas-narcotics-officers dept.

Guardian Unlimited has the story of the dropping of charges against Tonya White, a woman accused of selling cocaine to Tom Coleman, a narcotics officer whose undercover investigation during 1998 and 1999 led to the arrests of 43 people. The problem in White's case was apparently that she didn't live anywhere near Tulia, Texas (the site of the alleged drug sale), and was able to produce bank records proving she was in Oklahoma, hundreds of miles away, at the time Coleman says she was selling him drugs. White's attorney says the outcome shows that Coleman, who worked alone and used no audio or video surveillance, was simply a liar willing to send innocent people to prison to further his own career.

Posted by jbc at 02:57 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pentagon Confirms Souvenir Photos of Lindh

from the life-during-wartime dept.

As legal maneuvering continues in the upcoming trial of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh, Pentagon sources have acknowledged that they possess souvenir photographs showing a shackled and blindfolded Lindh being "posed" alongside his Special Forces jailers. Lindh's lawyers say the photographs, which have not yet been provided to them, demonstrate that Lindh was not treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention, and that statements obtained from him therefore should not be admissable in court. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, bristled at the suggestion that Lindh was mistreated. "Hey, give me a break. We're trying to fight a war here. Sure; we put his nuts in a vise until he talked. You happy now?"

Posted by jbc at 02:17 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 12, 2002

German Chancellor Sues Over Hair-Dying Allegation

from the does-he-or-doesn't-he? dept.

CNN has a story about German Chancellor Gerhard Shroeder's efforts to get a court to stop a German news agency from saying he dyes his hair. The court declined to make a decision today, instead postponing its ruling until May 19. Apparently the issue is important to him because some conservative opponents have suggested that the 58-year-old's alleged hair dying reflects poorly on his trustworthiness.

Posted by jbc at 11:42 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson Engaged

from the she-always-picks-such-nice,-wholesome-young-men dept.

Just in time to take our minds off the ongoing Middle East bloodbath, the L.A. Times is one of several outlets carrying the AP story on Kid Rock's marriage proposal to Pamela Anderson last night, and her acceptance of same. Wishing them every joy.

Posted by jbc at 10:08 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

realultimatepower.net's Ninja Obsession

from the he's-joking.-I-hope. dept.

Worth a look is http://www.realultimatepower.net/, a site all about ninjas, at least as interpreted by a frighteningly typical adolescent American male. Then there's this site, which is a parody of the first one (I think, though since the first one is hopefully a parody already, I'm not sure if that's completely kosher), with the focus shifted to hippos.

Posted by jbc at 06:24 AM | view/comment (36) | TrackBack (0)

The Women of Maxim

from the no,-not-THOSE-women-of-Maxim dept.

From the Boston Globe comes this story about the women who work behind the scenes at men's magazine Maxim, giving the magazine a kinder, less-sexist side. Those interviewed claim that the resulting feminist influence is a key part of the magazine's success. Well, that, and the pictures of naked women.

Posted by jbc at 06:09 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

12-year-old Swallows 87 Heroin-filled Condoms

from the kids'll-stick-anything-in-their-mouths dept.

From CNN comes this story of a 12-year-old Nigerian boy who arrived in New York yesterday on a British Airways flight, then became ill, went to the hospital, and told police he had swallowed 87 condoms filled with heroin in return for a promise of $1,900 for smuggling the drugs into the U.S. The boy is in stable condition, facing charges, while the investigation continues.

Posted by jbc at 05:45 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sam Snead Beans Spectator

from the oops,-sorry dept.

Highlighting the unique nature of a sport where octogenerians participate in headline events, 89-year-old golfing legend Sam Snead teed off the opening ceremonial shot at the U.S. Masters golf tournament yesterday, sending a 100-yard slice into the gallery. Spectator Phil Harrison was knocked down and had his glasses broken by the errant shot, but apparently was otherwise unhurt.

Posted by jbc at 05:05 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Spiderman Sued for Altering Billboard

from the welcome-to-the-future dept.

This is one of those stories that starts off sounding pretty boring but just gets weirder and weirder the more I think about it. As described in an article from Newsday, owners of a building in Times Square are suing Sony (backers of the upcoming Spiderman movie) because in images of Times Square that appear in the movie's trailer (and presumably in the movie itself), ads for Samsung (a Sony competitor) that were displayed on the building at the time of the filming have been airbrushed out and replaced with ads for USA Today and Cingular Wireless. The specific charges in the suit are "deceptive trade practices" and "trespass". Trespass?

Posted by jbc at 02:58 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Traficant Convicted

from the bribery,-extortion,-racketeering,-tax-fraud... dept.

A jury in Cleveland has found U.S. Representative James Traficant (D-OH) guilty of a host of corruption charges, according to this CNN report. Traficant added to the news value of his conviction by his characteristically "flamboyant" behavior during the trial; representing himself (though not a lawyer), yelling at the judge, questioning a prosecutor's manhood, vowing to "kick their [the prosecution's] ass", etc. Traficant, who faces up to 63 years in prison, has vowed (profanely) not to give up his House seat, despite House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt's (D-MO) call for him to step down in the wake of his conviction.

Posted by jbc at 02:37 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Review of Two Towers Preview

from the yes,-just-the-PREVIEW dept.

The Louisville Cardinal wins some sort of award for this: A review of the 4-minute preview for The Two Towers that has been spliced onto the end of the The Fellowship of the Ring. So, um, is it December yet? Darn. How about now? Darn!

Posted by jbc at 02:08 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 11, 2002

Russians Claim CIA Drugged Defense Worker

from the have-a-cookie dept.

From Guardian Unlimited comes the story of a claim by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB - the successor to the KGB) that CIA agents secretly administered psychotropic drugs to a Russian defense worker in an effort to obtain information from the man. A CIA spokesman and the U.S. Embassy in Moscow declined comment.

Posted by jbc at 08:42 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Military Breakthrough: The Indestructible Sandwich

from the meals-ready-to-mutate dept.

From ABC News comes the story of a breakthrough at the Army Soldier Systems Center: a sandwich that remains edible (for certain values of the term) for up to three years. The secret? Control of the "water activity" of the included meat, achieved via an "array of chemicals". Yum.

Posted by jbc at 03:36 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nicotine-laced Treats Declared Illegal

from the want-some-candy,-little-girl? dept.

According to an article in the Washington Post, The Food and Drug Administration has cracked down on three online pharmacies that were selling nicotine-containing lollipops, saying the "smoking cessation products" had not been tested for safety. FDA attorney David Horowitz explained that "we at FDA understand the tobacco industry's need to find innovative ways to promote tobacco use among children, but they need to follow the rules."

Posted by jbc at 03:24 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 10, 2002

Dubya's Turnaround on the Middle East

from the up-close-and-personal dept.

From CNN (or AllPolitics, or Time, or something; I guess it doesn't make much difference these days) comes this insider's look at dubya's recent change of heart about the need to pay attention to the Arab-Israeli conflict. I find it pretty interesting, but I realize that for some it will fall squarely into the category of the sort of sausage-making that is better left unexamined. Like a train wreck, though, it's hard not to watch the President's mind at work, the wheels slowly turning as he listens to the miniature devils and angels on his shoulders, the Rumsfelds and Cheneys and Powells with their "nuke 'em! nuke 'em all!" or, conversely, "be a statesman! make peace!" exhortations.

Posted by jbc at 08:04 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Overturned Conviction Marks 100th Death Penalty Exoneration

from the oh,-gee,-sorry-about-that dept.

The LA Times has the story of an Arizona man who has been freed from prison after DNA evidence showed he could not have committed the murder for which he had been convicted and sentenced to death. Death penalty foes say this marks the 100th time since the death penalty was revived in the mid 1970s that a person sentenced to death has subsequently been found to have been wrongly convicted. Ouch. So, anyway, sorry about the 10 years you spent in prison and the messed up life and all that, but hey, it could have been worse, right?

Posted by jbc at 06:41 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Goldmember Rides Again

from the yeah-baby dept.

After some nasty scuffling, it appears MGM will let New Line use the name "Goldmember" for the new Austin Powers movie after all, according to an article at E! Online. Apparently the thing that tipped the scales was New Line's willingness to run trailers for Die Another Day, the upcoming Bond movie, before a certain heartbreakingly good fantasy trilogy from Peter Jackson & Co.

Posted by jbc at 04:21 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Stephen Fry: Miserable and Loving It

from the Jeeves-was-never-this-conflicted dept.

Actor Stephen Fry, the quintessential Jeeves from the British TV series based on P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories, has this fairly interesting interview currently running in the New Zealand Herald. The thing that makes it interesting to me, besides the fact that I love everything he's done, is the way he comes across as so dreadfully exhausted with the whole endless treadmill of movie publicity (Gosford Park is opening in New Zealand on Thursday, apparently), that he's just saying whatever nutty thing comes to mind, in the process painting a pretty compelling picture of a guy who really needs a vacation. This part, for example: "Fry appears perplexed when asked if he would ever entertain suicidal thoughts again. 'How can I know?' he asks in a tone of incredulity. 'I haven't the faintest idea.'"

Posted by jbc at 03:25 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 09, 2002

NORML Ad Campaign to Feature NYC Mayor

from the do-as-I-say,-not-as-I,-well,-you-know dept.

From Reuters' Oddly Enough (via Yahoo News) comes this unlikely item: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be featured in an upcoming ad campaign from the good people at NORML, in which the billionaire financial-information mogul is quoted as saying, in reply to a question on whether he ever smoked pot, "You bet I did, and I enjoyed it."

Posted by jbc at 11:14 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Jovial Brits Queue to View Dead Royalty

from the how-very-British dept.

I don't know why it's such a comforting thought, but there it is: the sun has long since set on their empire, their economy is in the loo, and their PM is a fratboy's poodle, but the British continue to lead the world in being British. In this case, by standing cheerily in line all day to view the Queen Mum's coffin. Well done.

Posted by jbc at 03:03 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Yale at Odds with Dubya Drug Policy

from the they-gave-him-lousy-grades-as-a-student,-too dept.

The Guardian has the story of Yale University's decision to join other colleges in reimbursing students who lose federal financial aid due to drug offenses. Under a law passed in 1998, but not enforced until our current education President took office, students convicted of drug possession can lose their financial aid money. The Bush alma mater joins Hampshire College, Swarthmore, and Western Washington University in its decision to offer scholarships to affected students. "It's really about fostering diversity," explains Yale spokesperson Tom Conroy. "Some people, including President Bush, apparently, think hard drinking is all that higher education has to offer today. We want people to know, though, that a rich, vibrant tradition of marijuana, cocaine, and LSD use that is alive and well at Yale University."

Posted by jbc at 02:33 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

US Losing Spy Satellite Edge

from the backyard-sunbathers-take-note dept.

The Guardian is one of several outlets carrying an AP story documenting the end of the U.S. government's traditional dominance in spy satellite imagery. Between the national programs of countries like China and India, and commercial entities like Ikonos, satellite surveillance is increasingly available to anyone who wants it. Speaking in a recent Senate hearing, CIA Director George J. Tenet gave a glum assessment of the situation: "The bottom line is, this is going to make it much more difficult for us to lie to other nations - and even to our own people. Frankly, it sucks."

Posted by jbc at 02:05 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 08, 2002

Sharon to Dubya: Make Me

from the fratboy-diplomacy dept.

The Financial Times (among others) has the story of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's ongoing rejection of dubya's call for an end to the Israeli military campaign in the West Bank. Speaking to the Knesset, Sharon vowed to continue the operation "for as long as it takes." In previous phone conversations with Bush, Sharon explained that he has been hampered in his efforts to wrap things up quickly by his concern over the large number of Palestinian civilians in the area. "They keep moving," Sharon reportedly told Bush, "which makes shooting them much more difficult and time-consuming."

Posted by jbc at 09:17 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Increase Seen in Lying on Job Applications

from the retroactive-self-promotion dept.

Reuters has a report of a recent study showing that lying on job applications has increased sharply. The study, by a British employee screening firm, looked at a sample of 877 CVs submitted with job applications during the last half of 2001, finding that 54% of the applications contained "inaccuracies" about such things as educational background and previous employment. The study also found that the incidence of inaccuracies shot up by 20% during the last quarter of 2001, apparently a response to job seekers competing for fewer openings during the current economic downturn.

Posted by jbc at 05:47 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pegleg Smith Liars' Contest

from the top-this dept.

From the LA Times comes this story of the 27th annual Pegleg Smith Liars' Contest, an event in which a bunch of people huddle under blankets in the middle of the Anza Borrego desert and celebrate the memory of a one-legged alcoholic prospector who was also a pathological liar by telling made-up stories about the man. No, really.

Posted by jbc at 02:51 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 07, 2002

Dubya to Sharon: Now Means Now

from the nobody's-listening-to-me,-dammit dept.

The Washington Post is one of many outlets carrying the story of dubya's increasing frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon over the latter's ongoing West Bank incursion. In any given war of words Bush is obviously going to be outgunned, but it's not clear to me that this is going to remain a standard-issue Mideast-peace nuance-fest. The President's "moral clarity" (read: near-total ignorance of the issues, combined with a post-9/11 sense of urgency) make him something of a wildcard, one that might play out in any number of interesting ways once he realizes (as everyone else already has) that he's out of his depth here.

Posted by jbc at 02:36 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 06, 2002

Woman Convicted of Tear Gas Attack

from the hold-still-for-a-second dept.

From Reuters (via Yahoo News) comes this story of a French mother of two who has been convicted of spraying tear gas on a stranger in a supermarket parking lot. The woman testified that she just wanted to see if the newly purchased product worked. (Jeez. French people. Why couldn't she just test it on her kids, like an American mother?)

Posted by jbc at 03:20 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mystery Shoppers

from the would-you-like-spies,-er,-fries,-with-that? dept.

From the LA Times comes this story of "mystery shoppers": folks who pose as customers in order to spy on retail employees. This sort of thing isn't particular new; I remember the dread with which we clerks viewed the prospect of being "shopped" by the owner's spies back when I was ringing up ciggies and beer at Mr. B's Liquor 20 years ago. But apparently the practice is growing, as businesses (especially fast food outlets) try to combat the erosion in customer service they've seen of late.

Posted by jbc at 02:57 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Way Old Lies: A Site By Any Other Name

from the forward-into-the-past dept.

From the summer of 1997 comes this reposting from the original lies.com site. This is the story I ran when I was thinking that the site might be taken away from me by George Rafter's bogus trademark-infringement action, which had caused me to reflect on why I'd created the site in the first place. Anyway, here it is (again).


Posted by jbc at 02:23 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

REM's Buck Acquitted

from the shining-happy-medicated-people dept.

Proving that having charismatic rock stars as character witnesses never hurts, REM guitarist Peter Buck has been acquitted by a British jury in his "air rage" trial. The jury apparently bought Buck's assertion that it was an unintended side effect of a sleeping pill, rather than a prodigious quantity of wine, that caused him to wig out on the British Airways flight. The prosecution branded Buck a liar, but jurors apparently found the testimony of U2's Bono, who characterized Buck as "famously peaceful," more compelling. Cool.

Posted by jbc at 12:58 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 05, 2002

Husband Forced to Watch E.T. 100 Times, Doesn't Kill Wife

from the love,-honor,-and-obey-the-crackpot-whims dept.

Yahoo News has the story of 25-year-old Sian Thurkettle, a British woman who has seen E.T. (the sappy Spielberg movie with the not-yet-drug-addicted Drew Barrymore) no fewer than 773 times. What I find most amazing about the story is Thurkettle's husband George, who despite having to endure his wife's being moved to tears during at least 100 viewings at which he couldn't manage not to be present, has so far managed to resist the urge to end either her life or his own. I guess he feels he owes her for her willingness to share the last name "Thurkettle".

Posted by jbc at 04:02 AM | view/comment (3) | TrackBack (0)

Mourning Our Pets

from the ashes-to-ashes,-kitty-litter-to-kitty-litter dept.

CNN is running this story of the explosive growth in the "pet-death industry". Among the things mentioned are the rise in pet cemeteries, pet sympathy cards, and support groups for grieving pet-death survivors. "Yet even as the options for mourning a pet multiply, many owners still fear their grief might be mocked or misunderstood," the article says. Oops. Look, for the record, I'm not the sort of choom who would mock somebody for their grief. Death is death, sorrow is sorrow, and people who can find it in their hearts to love and mourn for other living creatures, be they ape-descended tool-using hominids or otherwise, are okay in my book. Shame on me.

Posted by jbc at 12:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 04, 2002

Crocodiles Warn of Earthquake, Are Ignored

from the if-only-they'd-use-English dept.

In the wake of the recent 6.8-magnitude earthquake in Taiwan, officials at a wildlife park are reporting that 1,000 crocodiles started making strange grunting noises and scrambling for higher ground about 20 minutes before the quake struck. As is typical in such cases, human observers failed to make the connection between the animals' unusual behavior and the impending catastrophe until it was too late. One crocodile, speaking on condition that he remain anonymous, likened the scaly beasts' predicament to that of the character Legolas in the recent Lord of the Rings movie. "We say, 'Hey. There's some bad juju coming. We can feel it.' But does anyone pay any attention to us? Of course not. We're just dumb animals to you." The creature went on to point out that his species has survived essentially unchanged since before the age of the dinosaurs. "T. Rex never paid any attention to us either."

Posted by jbc at 08:15 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The IBM Songbook

from the onward-pinstriped-soldiers dept.

From Janus comes this mention of the IBM Songbook, a 1931 exercise in groupthink that I find both uplifting and disturbing.

Posted by jbc at 08:00 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 03, 2002

The Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants

from the I-must-have-this dept.

I've always been an avid collector of field guides, so when my friend Yarbelito showed me this one, I knew my life would never be the same: I will not rest until I've obtained my own personal copy of The Golden Guide to Hallucinogenic Plants.

Posted by jbc at 04:05 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Britney-Google Connection

from the ah,-more-about-Britney dept.

From the fine folks at BBspot comes a link to this gem: a Google page documenting the incidence of misspellings of "Britney Spears" in the search requests they see. So, there are apparently nearly 600 different ways to spell her name, all of which have been entered by at least a couple (and sometimes many more) users over the past few months, all of which Google will successfully interpret as being a search for her. Wow. That's just... um, something.

Posted by jbc at 03:20 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rudeness on the Rise

from the screw-you dept.

A majority of Americans believes society is getting ruder, a new survey finds. Citing things like reckless driving, cell-phone use in theaters, and poor customer service in retail stores, 61% of those surveyed said they'd noticed a definite trend toward ruder behavior in recent years. "Americans have always had a reputation for being self-centered and ignorant, which foreigners sometimes interpret as rudeness," observes Mark Ornosky of the National Rudeness Council. "But as a nation, the knock on us has always been that once you get to know us, we're actually fairly nice folks. What this survey shows is that we're making real progress in erasing that stigma, at least among ourselves." The challenge now, according to Ornosky, will be to turn that rude behavior outward, displaying it consistently in our interactions with others around the world. "Like the French," he says. "Those guys are assholes to everyone."

Posted by jbc at 03:11 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

"Get Hillary" Campaign Continues

from the bring-it-on,-Mr.-Nutty dept.

Anonymous nonbelieverineveryemailtrashtalkingidiot writes Subject: By Paul Harvey - Conveniently Forgotten Facts, and goes on to submit the entire Paul Harvey/Black Panther/Hillary Clinton hoax. Which is cool with me; anti-Hillary rants have a long and entertaining history at lies.com, dating back to the Web Walker's postings on the way old version of the site. But before anyone's blood pressure gets too high, I feel compelled to point to this more or less thorough debunking of the story.

Posted by jbc at 02:43 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 02, 2002

Dahmer Dolls Criticized for "Poor Taste"

from the maybe-try-tabasco? dept.

Stopping just short of being fairly amusing, CNN recently ran a story in which a lawyer representing families of the victims of murderer-cum-human-flesh-gourmand Jeffrey Dahmer lashed out at Colorado-based Spectre Studios, a company that markets a line of Jeffrey Dahmer dolls. Speaking without apparent irony, the families' lawyer criticized the dolls for their "bad taste," failing, however, to offer any helpful suggestions on how their flavor might be improved.

Posted by jbc at 11:40 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

Desperately Seeking Ladonia

from the give-us-your-tired,-your-poor,-your...-confused dept.

According to a recent item in the Risks mailing list, more than 3,000 Pakistanis have recently applied for citizenship in the country of Ladonia, filling out the nation's online citizenship application. This would be great, except that Ladonia is imaginary, existing only on the net and in the mind of one Lars Vilks, an otherwise-sane Swede who "created" the 1-square-kilometer nation, ostensibly located on the border between Sweden and Denmark, in 1996.

Posted by jbc at 11:16 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Salvia Goes Mainstream

from the this-message-brought-to-you-from-the-salvia-advisory-board dept.

Knowing that drug coverage is always good for ratings, ABCNews.com is running a fairly breathless article touting salvia divinorum as the new LSD. Hmm. What was wrong with the old LSD?

Posted by jbc at 02:58 AM | view/comment (1) | TrackBack (0)

Programmer Wins Right to Use F-word

from the Thomas-Jefferson-would-be-so-proud dept.

Striking a blow for coders everywhere, Timothy Boomer has won on appeal a case defending his right to curse like a sailor, in the process overturning a 105-year-old state law under which he had been ticketed in 1998.

Posted by jbc at 02:31 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 01, 2002

Annual Spasm of April Fool's "Humor"

from the okay,-I-noticed-your-"joke".-can-we-go-back-to-reality-now? dept.

I refuse to link to any of the 17 bajillion April Fool's jokes to be found on the net today. It's been at least two years now since I found any of these even remotely funny. Wake me when it's April 2, and I can go back to disbelieving things because their proponents are dangerously out of touch with reality, rather than because their proponents are intentionally spreading misinformation in a misguided attempt at humor. Hmm. Actually, I'm probably just jealous. Whatever.

Posted by jbc at 09:53 AM | view/comment (0) | TrackBack (0)