Friday, June 30, 2006


There’s a headline I’ll bet you thought you’d never

Highlights of the famous Graceland Tour from news


"It turns out he's an Elvis fan, so he and I are then
going to go to Graceland," Bush said, to laughter,
according to the transcript. "Think about the American
president traveling to Graceland with the prime
minister of Japan. Let me ask you something -- 60
years ago, would you have thought that would be

Elvis didn't buy the house until 1957, so probably


“It turns out this will be the first time Bush has
visited the shrine. The only other American president
to have visited is Jimmy Carter, according to
Graceland publicist Kevin Kern, although a reader
helpfully pointed out that another president, Oscar
Arias of Costa Rica, toured the Jungle Room in 2001.”


“The Japanese leader, who humorously serenaded a 2005
birthday party for President Bush with Presley’s song,
I Want You, I Need You, I Love You, shares the King’s
January 8 birthday and personally selected 25 Elvis
songs for a 2002 limited-edition charity CD that was
released in Japan, and quickly sold out.”


“In the green-carpeted "Jungle Room" where Elvis
recorded some of his songs, Koizumi put his arm around
Lisa Marie Presley and said, "Hold me close, hold me
tight". He also put on sunglasses and struck a classic
Elvis pose.


“Bush gave an old-fashioned jukebox replete with Elvis
tunes as a parting gift to Koizumi who is stepping
down in September. Koizumi has been one of Bush's most
loyal supporters in the war on terrorism.”

“Bush and Koizumi, who both love baseball, became
friends five years ago after playing catch at Camp

“A few months later, Koizumi pledged strong support
for the United States after the September 11 attacks.
He also took a political risk in sending troops to
Iraq, though they are now being drawn down.”


“Attracting more media attention were four Elvis
look-a-likes who donned white jumpsuits to protest the
hunting of whales by the Japanese for scientific




“Brit, what do you think of the program
and what do you think of the Times' decision to reveal


“I would say about the program that it's
probably less important in some ways than the
wiretapping or the phone intercept program. But I have
to say that the case for revealing it seems even
worse, even weaker.”

“The editor of The New York Times said something to
the effect, it's a matter of "public interest."

Well, that can apply to almost anything! Juan
and I were talking about this earlier.

“That applies to ball scores.”

“And you know, I mean, women with their breasts
exposed are a matter of public interest to some


That’s true, I’ll give him that.




“The President has staked out powers that are a
universe beyond any other Administration. This
President has made claims that are really quite
alarming. He's said that there are no restraints on
his ability, as he sees it, to collect intelligence,
to open mail, to commit torture, and to use electronic
surveillance. If you used the President's reasoning,
you could shut down Congress for leaking too much.
His war powers allow him to declare anyone an illegal
combatant. All the world's a battlefield -- according
to this view, he could kill someone in Lafayette Park
if he wants! It's got the sense of Louis XIV: 'I am
the State.' "

– Bruce Fein, a Republican
legal activist, and associate Deputy Attorney
General in the Reagan Justice Department.


Cat Blogging

Monday, June 26, 2006


Scientists say they have discovered part of the skeleton of a dodo, the large, flightless bird which became extinct more than 300 years ago.

Alongside the skeleton was a copy of the Constitution of the United States of America, abandoned in 2006.

A scientist said it was the first discovery of fully preserved bones which could give clues as to how the Dodo bird lived its life. Scholars are hopeful to learn more about what sort of rights the Constitution once granted its citizens.

The bird is thought to have been hunted to extinction by European settlers. It is believed that the American people, in the full thrall of nationalism, and in fear for their lives, gave up the Constitution in favor of an elected dictatorship.

"The chances of a single bone being preserved a remarkable event; and here we have a whole collection of them," he said.

"We're very lucky to have found a copy of the Constitution," said one researcher. "The last known copy was destroyed in case it gave anyone any funny ideas."

Little is known about the dodo, a famous flightless bird thought to have become extinct in the 17th Century. The Constitution was in place for more than 200 years before an undeclared war on terror required its limits on government power be jettisoned.

The dodo was mocked by Portuguese and Dutch colonialists for its size and apparent lack of fear of armed, hungry hunters.

The Constitution's rights were mocked by political conservatives and nationalists.

The Dodo, an exinct flightless bird

The Constitution, formerly set limits on U.S. government actions


Friday, June 23, 2006


So the media has gone crazy with this Miami terror story.

From "The New York Times:

“The seven men, who lived in a windowless, one-story
warehouse that was raided by F.B.I. agents on
Thursday, included five American citizens, one
permanent legal resident and one illegal immigrant
from Haiti, according to prosecutors.”

“John S. Pistole, the F.B.I.'s deputy director said it
was "more aspirational than operational," but
illustrated the threat posed by small groups without
connections to international terror networks.”

“They asked him [an FBI informant] for money, weapons,
binoculars and boots and in return pledged loyalty to
Al Qaeda and offered to assist in a supposed plot to
blow up federal buildings in five cities.”

“Mr. Pistole said the group had no actual connection
to Al Qaeda.”


Ok, so, just so I'm clear: Seven homeless guys living
in a windowless garage in Miami asked an FBI informant
if he could please get them some shoes and in return
the agreed to tell he what he wanted hear about some
crazy massive terror plot.

That sound about right?



From the AP:

"Report: Abramoff used Norquist to distribute funds"

Anti-tax advocate acted as a buffer
for lobbyist's activities

WASHINGTON (AP) -- "In Jack Abramoff's world, prominent Washington tax-cut advocate Grover Norquist was a godsend.

Moving money from a casino-operating Indian tribe to Ralph Reed, the Christian Coalition founder and professed gambling opponent, was a problem. Lobbyist Abramoff turned to his longtime friend Norquist, apparently to provide a buffer for Reed.

The result, according to evidence gathered by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, was that Norquist's Americans for Tax Relief became a conduit for more than a million dollars from the Mississippi Choctaw to Reed's operation, while Norquist, a close White House ally, took a cut.

Without citing any specific group, the Senate panel found numerous instances of nonprofit organizations that appeared to be involved in activities unrelated to their mission as described to the Internal Revenue Service.

Thursday's 373-page Senate report on Abramoff's influence-peddling said some nonprofits channeled money from one entity to another in an effort to obscure the source of funds, the eventual use of funds and to evade tax liability.

The report said some tax-exempt organizations apparently were used as extensions of for-profit lobbying operations. The committee forwarded 108 documents to the Senate Finance Committee in February about nonprofits, 28 of them dealing with Norquist's group.

Norquist's office says its tax-cut mission is the same as that of the Choctaws, who were bankrolling a grass-roots campaign by Reed's organization to block potential competitors."

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Michelangelo's Florentine Pieta

Michelangelo created this Pieta for his own funerary chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, between 1548-55, but left it unfinished. (The Magdalen is by one of his pupils, Tiberio Calcagni).

He gave it to his friend, Francesco Bandini, and the statue was sold to the Medici Grand Dukes in the mid 17th century. It was at first placed in the crypt in San Lorenzo then, after 1721, behind the high altar in the Cathedral. It was moved to the in the left transept, in 1933, where it remained until 1980.

English As the Official Language

Thoughts on English as the Official Language:

Uber-American John Wayne often described the epitaph wanted carved on his headstone:

It was in Spanish.

Feo, Fuerte y Formal**

**"He was Ugly, Strong, and had Dignity".

Monday, June 19, 2006

State Dept. Memo Details Deterioration of Life in Iraq

From the memo from the U.S. Embassy:

* Woman report men harassing them and telling them to cover up and stop using cell phones.

* Taxi driver who brings employee to the green zone checkpoint has told her he cannot let her ride unless she wears a headcover.

* A woman must now wear a full "abaya" after receiving direct threats in May. She says her neighborhood, Mhamiya, is no longer permissive if she is not clad so modestly.

* Staff members have reported that it is now dangerous for men to wear shorts in public; they no longer allow their children to play outside in shorts.

* People who wear jeans in public have come under attack from what staff members describe as Wahabis and Sadrists.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Actual Spacesuit Used in the Mercury Space Program, as seen in the film, The Right Stuff.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Arctic Dips in Height, Sea Levels Rise

By Jonathan Amos
Science reporter, BBC News

"Arctic sea level has been falling by a little
over 2mm a year - a movement that sets the region
against the global trend of rising waters.

A Dutch-UK team made the discovery after
analysing radar altimetry data gathered by
Europe's ERS-2 satellite.

It is well known that the world's oceans
do not share a uniform height; but even so,
the scientists are somewhat puzzled by their results.

Global sea level is expected to keep on
climbing as the Earth's climate warms.

To find the Arctic out of step, even temporarily,
emphasises the great need for more
research in the region, the team says."

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bring Me the Head of Abu al-Zarqawi

In ancient times in many cultures, it was common practice to display an enemies head on a pike and parade through town after a victory.

When Oliver Cromwell was overthrown, his head was left out in the open for decades. Eventullay it was put in a box and displayed for local schoolchildren. This week’s “New Yorker” describes how in 1671, the Indian leader Metacom, known to the English as King Philip, he was forced to sign a treaty with the Plymouth Colony. Four years after signing the treaty, he led an uprising against the English. The colonists won, and Metacom’s head was cut off, mounted, and rotted on a pole in Plymouth for 25 years.

While it may not be easy to imagine what it was like to live in those times, recent events may help. For the past two days every newspaper and media web site and have triumphantly displayed the head of Abu al-Zarqawi, the just-killed leader of “al qaeda” in Iraq. No doubt a bad guy, though of course the U.S. has a habit of taking guys who are evil enough and turning them into a cross between the bogeyman and that shark from “Jaws.”

The rather repulsive display passed “unseemly” around yesterday afternoon and has progressed into full-blown “horrifying.” This guy was real scum – a psycho, not even Iraqi, will be missed by no one -– but for god’s sake, we killed a man. We didn’t free Iraq, or liberate anyone, or achieve anything. We didn’t even arrest him. We dropped 2 500 pound bombs on his house and he was killed. Or survived and then died. Or something. The truth is a little hard to come by with these guys.

But not only is all this celebrating offensive and ridiculous, building him up to be more important than he was, but we’ve done this end-zone dancing before, only to be shocked when the mission wasn’t accomplished.

I actually heard a journalist ask if the troops could come home now.

But then Blair said violence would increase in the short term. And in the long term someone will take Zarqawi’s place.

So what does that mean? It’s means we’re still screwed.





- The New York Times, June 9, 2006



Mike Brown,formerly of FEMA and the Arabian horse thing has released what he says is an e-mail sent by a top Bush administration official that described a Sept. 7, 2005 Cabinet meeting in which President Bush urged everyone to continue to place most of the blame for the Katrina response on Brown.

I'm not going ignored, George....


Apparently Armed Forces Radio hired Lund Media Research to conduct of U.S. soldiers to make recommendations for future programming.

The fighting men and women want less of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and NPR. Also they don’t like country music and prefer hip-hop, and rap.

This makes sense. These guys were born when – 1986? So they turned 15 in 2001.

So yeah, maybe scale back the obese Oxycontin addicts and throw on some Eminem.


“These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.”

"By the way, how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy."

– Ann Coulter, on the 9/11 Widows she calls “the Witches of East Brunswick"



Front Page, New York Times:

* “Mideast Truce Threatened After Shelling”

* “Zarqawi Said to Briefly Survive Airstrike”

* “Liberal Bloggers Gather in Las Vegas”

“Hundreds of liberal (they'd say progressive) Internet bloggers crawled out of their cybertunnels for face-time and political networking here at the first-ever YearlyKos convention.”

– New York Times, June 9, 2006.

Sorrow or Sadness Over the Present or Future Evils of the World

Well, I hope you watched last night because it was damm exciting. We were jumping up and down as it came down to one word for the championship title of the 79th Annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. The girl from New Jersey scored a victory for all America – well, she beat a Canadian, but still – to become the first girl since 1999 to win. Eighth grader Katharine Close spelled “ursprache'' correctly to win, while the other one missed on “weltschmerz,” if anything, an easier word.

Easy, right? Sure. You knew them all. Of course.

Actually, Close said she was relieved when she heard the final word and realized she knew how to spell “ursprache,” guaranteeing her about $45,000 in cash and scholarships.

She is the first champion ever from New Jersey. (They’ve been doing this since 1925.)

Most finalists -- 196 -- attend public schools, 26 attend private schools, 13 attend parochial schools and three attend charter schools. Thirty-seven were home schooled.

BTW, “ursprache'' means a “reconstructed, hypothetical parent language."

“Weltschmerz,” another noun of German origin, is defined as “sorrow or sadness over the present or future evils of the world, a sentimental sadness.”

But you already knew that.


“BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 1 — Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lashed out at the American military on Thursday, denouncing what he characterized as habitual attacks by troops against Iraqi civilians.

In his comments, Mr. Maliki said violence against civilians had become a "daily phenomenon" by many troops in the American-led coalition who "do not respect the Iraqi people."

"They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion," he said. "This is completely unacceptable." Attacks on civilians will play a role in future decisions on how long to ask American forces to remain in Iraq, the prime minister added.”

– The New York Times, June 2, 2006

This is the man WE put in power.


Bush chose a new Secretary of the Treasury this week. (Henry Paulson). On what basis did Bush say he made his decision?

(A) Paulson’s vast experience in economics

(B) Paulson’s reputation for integrity

(C) Paulson’s vision for boosting the U.S. economy

(D) Paulson’s popularity among Republicans, Democrats,
and leaders in the financial community

(E) Paulson’s "ability to explain economic issues in clear terms."

Answer: E

Of course.



"A newly discovered fragment of the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament indicates that, as far as the Antichrist goes, theologians, scholars, heavy metal groups, and television evangelists have got the wrong number. Instead of 666, it's actually the far less ominous 616."

- National Geographic