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November 30, 2005

Cindy Sheehan's 16th minute

Sweetness and Light has the photos of the Cindy Sheehan book non-signing. And, via WuzzaDem, we see a hilarious article from Editor & Publisher on the dispute that these photos created: "Cindy Sheehan Claims Photos Falsely Implied Her Book Signing was a Flop."

Click here to read more . . .

Two visitors

I had to laugh at two searches that led recent visitors to Pillage Idiot:

1. what is milla jovovich's' bra size ?

2. www.donkeys sex.

The first is a fascinating question, especially since I still have little idea who she is, but I can tell you for sure that my visitor went away disappointed. The second is a variant of a common search here (that'll teach me to joke about the sex lives of Republicans and Democrats), but the interesting thing is that my visitor is from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Maybe he's looking for his 72 virgins.

UPDATE (12/1): Another Saudi visitor: "youngest naked teens."

Click here to read more . . .

On the other side of the Potomac

While we're sweating the countdown on Wesley Baker here in Maryland, Governor Mark Warner of Virginia has commuted the death sentence of Robin M. Lovitt to life without parole. (Sorry to keep up this death penalty stuff. Kind of a downer, isn't it?)

A clerk disposed of the evidence after the state supreme court upheld Lovitt's conviction, and the governor is concerned that Lovitt no longer has the wherewithal to have a DNA test to support his claim of innocence.

Two observations: First, isn't it interesting that suddenly Ken Starr is a hero to a certain group of people? It's kind of like the Pope. When he says abortion is immoral, it's an improper injection of religion into public policy. But when he tries to stop an execution in some state, he's expressing a great moral truth.

Second observation is that if you really have a sincere concern about guilt or innocence, what's so great about life without parole? You know, if we had no death penalty, virtually no one would give a damn about these people. We wouldn't have high-priced law firms doing "pro bono" defense. (A friend of mine refers to this as "pro malo," by the way.) We wouldn't have people digging up new evidence of innocence. We wouldn't have commissions investigating the capital punishment system. We wouldn't have moratoriums implemented by crooked governors. We wouldn't have candlelight vigils. We wouldn't have irresponsible Eurotrash organizations condemning us at every pass. And these bastards would be rotting away in prison under life without parole. If they're innocent, how would they be helped? They wouldn't. But a bunch of death-penalty opponents would make themselves feel a little better.

Click here to read more . . .

Repeat after me

Repeat after me: Murderers in Baltimore County get the death penalty; murderers in Baltimore City don't.

It's as simple as that. It's not your race that gets you a death sentence; it's your bad sense of geography. Cross Slade Avenue on Park Heights and you're a goner if you off someone there. Same thing in Catonsville, as Wesley Baker discovered.

Previous Wesley Baker discussions collected here.

Click here to read more . . .

November 29, 2005

Pension chicks

As long as we're talking tonight about women showing some flesh in unexpected places (like at the chess table), I have to point out that they're also showing it in the health section of the Washington Post. Huh? you say. Well, you're absolutely right.

The article in the Post's health section discusses the plight of flight attendents whose pensions from United Airlines are not secure. Some of these women have put together a calendar called "Stewardesses Stripped (of their Pension?)" (link reasonably SFW) to complain about a crisis in the pension system. For those of you who are unsure whether to click on the link at work, let me quote the promotional materials: "This is a 14 page calendar, each page is a 9 x 12 full color picture in high resolution. All pages are high quality heavy weight gloss paper and professionally printed. This Calendar does not contain nudity. The following sample photos are low resolution and do not reflect the high quality in the calendar. You won't be disappointed !!"

So what is an article featuring a calendar of semi-clothed flight attendants doing in the health section of the Post? Here's the logic of the placement:

1. Flight attendants have concerns about their pensions.

2. They create a semi-nude calendar in the hope of attracting attention to their concerns. ("Are your butts covered ? We thought ours were too !")

3. To avoid pension problems, people are probably going to have to work longer.

4. To work longer, people will have to be healthier.

5. Therefore, an article about a semi-nude calendar belongs in the health section.


Now that we've solved the missing link, what I'm looking for is a cut of the profits.

Click here to read more . . .

fee simple: Questions from Canada

CTV reports that Transport Canada is testing new spyware that could prevent drivers from speeding.

Many motorists would balk at the idea of an electronic back-seat driver that forcefully prevents them from speeding.

But a new device being road-tested by Transport Canada could mean breaking the speed limit will no longer be an option.

Using global positioning satellite technology and a digital speed-limit map, the device makes it difficult for drivers to press down on the accelerator once they go above a certain speed limit.
This article raises several interesting questions:

Q1) How long (days, hours, minutes?) after the U.S. Department of Transportation would propose such a system for America would it take for the Capitol Hill switchboards light up with calls from enraged drivers (read: "voters")?

Q2) How much will the Radio Shack converter device cost to fool the electronic monitor into thinking the car is always being driven at a legal speed?

Q3) How many millions of unsold new cars (that come WITH the electronic monitor) will remain on dealer's lots while people continue to drive their old cars (WITHOUT the monitor)?

Q4) How many billions of dollars in damages will imposed (against the manufacturer of the device, the auto company that installed it, the company that wrote the software, etc., etc.) when a death occurs because the electronic monitor prohibited a driver from pressing down on the accelerator in a critical situation?

Q5) Doesn't anyone remember the Carter-era seat-belt / ignition interlock fiasco?

Click here to read more . . .

Chess chicks

Some intellectual pursuits, like math, which I majored in at college, have a reputation for attracting a bunch of geeky, socially maladept guys who can't get dates, and no women to speak of. Like most generalizations, this has some truth to it, enough truth to justify the generalization, but it's not entirely fair.

With that disclaimer, I have to mention the field of chess. I'm not a chess player, but chess seems to me to attract the same kind of socially maladept guys that math attracts. So I was interested in this article in the New York Times entitled "Sex and Chess. Is She a Queen or a Pawn?"

There are enough women in chess to make an impression and few enough to attract a lot of attention.

VANESS REID, a 16-year-old student from Sydney, Australia, runs cross-country, plays touch football, enjoys in-line skating, swims and goes bodyboarding. She also has a cerebral side: she plays competitive chess. She represented Australia at a tournament in Malaysia in 2002 and played in a tournament in New Zealand this year.

While Ms. Reid is clearly no novice at the game, she isn't exactly taking it by storm. She is not on the World Chess Federation's list of the world's 50 top female players. In fact she is ranked 47,694th among both men and women. But Ms. Reid, who has auburn hair, light-blue eyes and a winning smile, is arguably the top player in the world based on a more subjective criterion: her looks. A Web site called World Chess Beauty Contest ( ranks her as the world's most beautiful woman in the game.
The site was started by two Kazakh brothers, one of whom opines that "Chess desperately needs some glamour." So this is how chess gets that glamour:
Alexandra Kosteniuk, 21, a dark-haired, porcelain-skinned Russian grandmaster who is ranked fifth in the world among women and 525th over all, models and uses her Web site to sell photos of herself posing in bikinis next to giant chess pieces. [A safe-for-work photo of her appears with the Times article.]

Maria Manakova, 31, who is the fourth-ranked woman in Russia and who is ranked eighth on the Beauty Contest site, attracted attention last year when she posed nude for Speed, a Russian magazine. She followed it up by posing for Maxim and the Russian edition of Playboy.
Now, what they do away from the chess table is mere gossip; what they do at the table is serious business.
Steve Immitt has directed chess tournaments around the United States for more than two decades. * * * Mr. Immitt recalled a tournament in Daytona Beach, Fla., in which a male player complained that his female opponent was a distraction. Mr. Immitt went to investigate.

"She was distracting," he said. "But there was nothing I could do. It was the beginning of April, right after spring break, and she was dressed appropriately for the time of year. It wasn't anything against the law. I told the guy, 'You are going to have to call upon yourself to overcome the distraction.' He ended up losing the game anyway, but I am not sure that was from being distracted."
Maria Manakova, the one who posed nude, insists that she would never deliberately try to distract her opponent: "I don't need to distract my opponent or do something. I can do it after the game if I want. During the game I just want to play good chess." I'll bet her opponent wants the same thing; the question is whether he's able to pull it off.

Click here to read more . . .

Adios, Stan Berenstain

I didn't want Stan Berenstain to die. I just wanted him to stop writing those horrendous books. The Washington Post obit mentions Charles Krauthammer's 1989 column entitled "Drown the Berenstain Bears," which I've tried to get a copy of for years (without doing any hard work, of course).

"I hate the Berenstain Bears," columnist Charles Krauthammer fumed in 1989. "The raging offense of the Berenstains is the post-feminist Papa Bear, the Alan Alda of Grizzlies, a wimp so passive and fumbling he makes Dagwood Bumstead look like Batman."
More trashing of the bears in this 1999 piece in Salon.

UPDATE (11/30): Many thanks to Soccer Dad, who got me the Krauthammer column through the library. What's a library?

Click here to read more . . .

Wesley Baker gets a defense

I've written about Wesley Baker three times before. He's a murderer on death row in Maryland.

But now he has a defender, the president-elect of the NAACP of Maryland. Writing in Sunday's Post, Elbridge James blames things on the sad facts of Baker's birth, upbringing, and childhood. And, while insisting he does not "excuse" the murder, for which we can all be grateful, James blames the murder on society. I am not making that up.

Nothing can excuse Tyson's murder, and I am not arguing that Baker should be released from prison. He clearly was present during the crime, and he has expressed remorse for his participation.

But Baker is an example of how society fails our youth, particularly our black youth. Maryland's child welfare system was unable or unwilling to protect Baker from abuse and neglect when he was under its care. It was complicit in allowing his young life to be thrown away long before the justice system ruled that Baker should die for his crime.
James says that capital punishment is biased in Maryland because different prosecutors seek the penalty to different degrees. But his real argument is that capital punishment is a "bankrupt policy."

To me, Baker's execution instead will underscore Maryland's failure to protect its vulnerable children -- most often black and poor children -- and to stop the cycle of violence that poverty and addiction perpetuate.

The death penalty is a bankrupt policy. It wastes the resources that Maryland desperately needs for education, health care and child care to ensure that other children do not end up like Wesley Baker.
Personally, I'd rather spend money to ensure that other people don't end up like Jane Tyson. Dead.

UPDATE: Fellow Marylander David Wissing, at the Hedgehog Report, notes that Cardinal Keeler has gotten into the act, too.

Click here to read more . . .

Gift from Chicago

What I want to know is what kind of demented sadists schedule an important business matter on the Monday after Thanksgiving so that participants are required to travel on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, one of the worst travel days of the year? No one at my end, anyway.

So, you see, I had to travel to Chicago yesterday and return today. I had the pleasure, by the way, of staying in a hotel occupied by a convention of scientists, and you know what party animals they are. Drunken competitions in the hallways at 3 a.m. to see who can ignite the largest explosions.

But I got one thing out of the trip: a complimentary copy of the Chicago Tribune, in which I found an interesting column by Dawn Turner Trice (registration possibly required).

I love this. A gazillion terrorist attacks against Americans are committed by young Muslim men from certain countries, and one by Timothy McVeigh, but let's not jump to any conclusions.

To a guy like U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), profiling--attempting to sort out criminals and non-criminals based on racial, ethnic or age considerations--seems to be a perfectly reasonable and efficient tool in "the war on terror."

I suppose Kirk sees it this way: Why should we inconvenience most Americans, or infringe on their rights, when we already know that the next "terrorist" in America will be a young Arab male?

Earlier this month, Kirk was speaking at a technology conference at Northwestern University when he said he was OK with discriminating against young Arab males from terrorist-producing countries as long as it means keeping America safe.

Kirk has continued to stand by his comments despite Arab-American groups pressing him to apologize.

The scary truth is that many Americans feel this same way.
You mean, you're not staying up at night worrying about the feelings of "young Arab males from terrorist-producing countries," like Mohammed Atta? Trice sure is:
Advocating racial profiling isn't just an incendiary issue; it simply doesn't make sense. If you say it's OK to discriminate against some Muslims trying to enter the country, then how long before American Muslims would see their rights whittled away?

And who would determine how far the discrimination would go? Would it be OK to hold a person in a prison camp without charges for a few years?
And pretty soon we're living in a fascist country -- if we aren't already.

Trice goes on to mention Timothy McVeigh and the University of Oklahoma bomber, neither of whom, so far as we know, was a young Muslim man. OK, as far as that goes.

It's terminally naive, however, to think that some domestic nut-jobs are really the threat, as Trice argues:
While we wait for the Al Qaeda hammer to fall, homegrown radical right-wing extremism continues to be dismissed. The fact is, extremists are already on our soil, hunkered down amid their mini-arsenals.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the mantra has been that we need to stop "them" over there so we don't have to fight "them" over here. Well, guess what? "They" are already here, and they are us.
Here's my question: Let's assume she's right. Let's assume some domestic nut-jobs are the real terrorists we should worry about. Why, then, do elderly black men and white toddlers get pulled aside for special scrutiny at the airports? Do we all have to suffer so that not only "young Arab males from terrorist-producing countries" but also domestic nut-jobs won't be singled out?

Click here to read more . . .

November 27, 2005

New York City justice

There used to be a judge in New York City named Bruce Wright, who was nicknamed "Turn 'Em Loose Bruce." The nickname speaks for itself.

His successor in crime is named Laura Blackburne. Pause for a moment to consider one of my favorite lawyer cartoons. A lawyer in a courtroom has a gun drawn, and the judge, bailiff, and other lawyer have their hands up. The defendant speaks: "God knows you couldn't ask for more in a court-appointed lawyer."

Now, back to Justice Blackburne. In June 2004, she imitated the lawyer in the cartoon I just described.

A judge ordered a defendant to leave a Queens courtroom through a side door yesterday so he could elude a detective waiting in a hallway to arrest him in a separate robbery case, the police said. The judge's action prompted the police commissioner to call for a judicial misconduct investigation.

The defendant, Derek Sterling, was appearing before the judge, Justice Laura D. Blackburne of State Supreme Court [a trial court] in Queens, for a routine update about his progress in a drug treatment program that he had been sent to after a drug arrest. Justice Blackburne was apparently irritated with the detective's arrival at her courtroom and accused him in the record of misrepresenting himself.
I can't give you the link to that article, because it's in the New York Times archives, but an update appeared this past week. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct investigated this conduct and recommended removal from the bench.
The State Commission on Judicial Conduct has recommended that a controversial New York City judge be removed from the bench for helping a robbery suspect in her courtroom elude a detective by allowing him to exit through a back door.

Justice Laura D. Blackburne of the State Supreme Court in Queens is only the fifth Supreme Court judge to be recommended for removal - the panel's harshest penalty - since the commission was constituted in 1978.

In its decision, a majority of the 11-member commission said that Justice Blackburne had "set a reprehensible example for court officers and other court personnel" and "transcended the boundaries of acceptable judicial behavior." Eight members voted for removal and two said she should only be censured. One was not present.
What's amazing to me is that the judge continues to have strong defenders.
But Justice Blackburne, a former counsel for the state N.A.A.C.P. who remains well-connected in local political circles, did not lack for defenders yesterday.

"I'm surprised and chagrined to believe that they would take such an extreme step over this incident," said Leroy G. Comrie, a city councilman from Queens. "I would encourage her to challenge it."

Councilman Charles Barron of Brooklyn was even more vocal. He described the commission's decision as "outrageous, extreme, unjust, straight up bogus."

"They made it sound like some dangerous criminal was being smuggled out the back door," added Mr. Barron, who has often crossed swords with law enforcement officials over issues of police misconduct.
The judge eventually admitted error but argued for a minor punishment. I love the explanation.
According to the commission's ruling, Justice Blackburne, who never spoke with the detective, found the discrepancy insulting.

"I have directed that you be escorted out of the building by Sergeant Peterson because I - and I'm putting this on the record - specifically, I resent the fact that a detective came to this court under the ruse of wanting to ask questions when, in fact he had it in his head that he wanted to arrest you," she said. "If there is a basis for him arresting you, he will have to present that in the form of a warrant."

Justice Blackburne added that she was not trying to keep Mr. Sterling from being arrested, but was "trying to keep you from being arrested today in my courtroom based on obvious misrepresentation on the part of the detective."

The judge later admitted that she had acted improperly and requested that the commission issue a disciplinary sanction no stronger than censure. But the commission disagreed, saying that her behavior was "such gross deviation from the proper role of a judge that it justifies the sanction of removal."
Maybe she can get a job as appointed counsel and make the lawyer cartoon come to life.

Click here to read more . . .

November 24, 2005

Children optional

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I'm thankful we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving at my parents' house for about the millionth time, except for the one year I had a false alarm heart problem, which turned out to be caused by excessive caffeine. I'm also thankful for children, both mine and others', and we had all of mine, and all of my older sister's children with us today (the youngest of all of these being my 14-year-old son).

But I did get a kick out of this article in the New York Times, giving 10 rules for younger children at parties. Since our kids are teens and post-teens, they don't really count as kids any more, at least at parties, and we usually think, on those rare occasions when we entertain, that perhaps we're really like to focus on adults. The code words we use in our invitations are "children optional." We find that this alerts our friends to the idea that they should feel free not to bring their kids, but it allows them to bring them if they have a good reason. It also doesn't insult my two siblings who live nearby, whose kids we of course are delighted to have on any occasion.

The Times article naturally tends toward the horror story, which is why we like to read these things, isn't it? Here's my favorite "rule":

8) Urinating on the floor is never in style.

"There was a kid, probably 2, who really liked to be naked," says a Manhattan woman who requests anonymity, recalling an elegant party. "He took off his clothes and ran around. Then he urinated on the floor. His parents thought it was really funny. It's sort of sad this behavior is tolerated."
The writer's next rule is commentary on this rule:
9) Sort of? Sort of?

Excuse us, we became unhinged for a moment.
Actually, excuse us while we change the language of our invitations to "children optional, children's clothing mandatory."

Click here to read more . . .

November 23, 2005

Today's burning question

Standing up or sitting down? (And be sure to read the comments, especially the first one.)

Via Jonah G. in the Corner.

UPDATE (11/24): Almost forgot that this is a big political issue in Germany.

Click here to read more . . .

People 1, Wesley Baker 0

The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, has rejected Wesley Baker's appeal.

Maryland's highest court rejected Wednesday every request before it from death row inmate Wesley Eugene Baker, including an emergency motion to stay his scheduled execution next month and an appeal based on a state-funded study that found racial and geographic disparities in the state's use of capital punishment.
A big issue in the case was a study of alleged racial bias in capital punishment in Maryland. The basic idea is that different jurisdictions pursue death cases differently. Baker stupidly murdered someone in Baltimore County, where the State's Attorney often sought the death penalty, instead of over the line in Baltimore City, where the State's Attorney makes Michael Dukakis look tough on capital punishment.

I previously wrote about the Wesley Baker case here and here.

UPDATE (11/29): Wesley Baker gets a defense.

Click here to read more . . .

They recounted again in Ohio

John Kerry has finished serving on a civil jury, which elected him as foreman. He got one fellow juror to switch her vote -- in last year's election, I mean, not in the trial.

"I just found him to be a knowledgeable, normal person," said Cynthia Lovell, a nurse and registered Republican who says she now regrets voting for President Bush in last year's election. "He kept us focused. He wanted us all to have our own say."
And he got the respect of the unsuccessful plaintiff's attorney.
"I think he's a very intelligent man, and I've had respect for everything he's accomplished," said Fortier, who voted for Bush.
With a few more votes like those in Massachusetts, of all places, Kerry's a lock for 2008.

(Via Hugh Hewitt, who I'm pleased to report has stopped flacking for Harriet Miers)

Click here to read more . . .

Murtha madness

Here's the one post you need to read about Congressman Murtha.

It's called Godzilla vs. Murtha, by John from WuzzaDem.

Click here to read more . . .

November 22, 2005

Three types of abstinence?

I've written often about the Cucumber People in Montgomery County, Maryland, where I live. These are the proponents of the sex-ed curriculum that includes a video explaining how to put a condom on by demonstrating its use on a cucumber. The curriculum resulted in a lawsuit that focused on a controversial teacher's guide discussing homosexuality.

Today's topic is sex ed, but not cucumbers.

The Rockville Gazette has a front-page article describing some interesting information in the sex-ed curriculum at county schools:

The county school system is re-thinking its definition of sexual abstinence after complaints from two parents that their children were receiving incorrect and even risky information in sex ed classes.

Karen Sees and Cindy Richards said the "contraception comparison chart" used in eighth-grade health class at Herbert Hoover Middle School describes three types of abstinence: No intercourse, withdrawal (ejaculation outside of the body) and rhythm (no intercourse during ovulation).
Call me old-fashioned, but in my day, we abstained by abstaining. A lot of kids I knew would have been delighted to learn that they could have abstained by having intercourse.

The two complaining parents point out the problem:
"Since when did the term abstinence change to include the two most ineffective forms of birth control possible?" said Cindy Richards of Potomac. "Here we have been teaching our kids that abstinence means not having sex, period. What kind of message is this [chart] sending?"
I take it that's a rhetorical question, and I hope Ms. Richards knows the answer, although Montgomery County parents, while highly educated, are often incredibly dumb about sex.

But there's another problem, too: If abstinence includes withdrawal and "rhythm," girls can get pregnant through "abstinence." Hardly what the proponents of abstinence education had in mind.

In case you were wondering what Planned Parenthood said about this, they said: "The schools should add a fourth type of abstinence: elective abortion, preferably without the parents' knowledge." Ha, ha, only kidding, I think. What Planned Parenthood actually said was this:
"Abstinence is when you’re not having sex, as simple as that," said Wendy Royalty of Planned Parenthood.
And will wonders never cease? The Catholic Church is on the same side as Planned Parenthood. Maybe we've reached the time when the lion will lie down with the lamb, the testosterone-raging teenaged boys will lie down with the hormone-crazed teenaged girls, and . . . abstain.

Click here to read more . . .

Travel lust

You've heard of "road rage"? Welcome to "travel lust," only it's not what that term has traditionally meant.

In England, motorists are driven to distraction by semi-naked models in billboard ads.

LONDON (Reuters) - Almost a quarter of British motorists admit they have been so distracted by roadside billboards of semi-naked models that they have dangerously veered out of their lane.

In research released Monday, one in five male drivers said their eyes were diverted from the road by posters of scantily clad women -- such as the saucy cleavage shots of model Eva Herzigova in her notorious adverts for Wonderbra.
This raises several important questions, the most important of which is: Can I significantly increase my site traffic with the words "lust," "semi-naked," and "cleavage" in this post? I've tried the cleavage route before, and the results have been less than wunderbar (ha, ha, bilingual wordplay).

The next most important question is: Will I show you the saucy shot of Ms. Herzigova? I regret to say that I haven't been able to find it. But if you want a different saucy photo of the lady, you can check out the Sydney Morning Herald's article on this topic at this link (registration possibly required).

This problem that men have -- looking at semi-naked women on billboards instead of the road in front of them -- reminds me that when I was working a summer job in college, I'd stand the bus stop at the corner on the edge of the corporate park and whenever an attractive woman was also at the bus stop, the men in their cars, without fail, would take their eyes off the road as they turned the corner to check out the woman. Without fail. I remember thinking I could do statistics on this, until I realized it was really 100%.

Speaking of stream of consciousness, I also came across this article, which begins: "A US student who was arrested for indecent exposure at a careers fair says it was a work of performance art." He said he was "challenging taboos."

This reminds me of my all-time favorite road sign, which was located on a four-lane road near where I grew up. Nowadays, they have roadside signs that tell you your speed as you approach in a vain attempt to make you slow down. Even back in the 70s, they had a radar-controlled sign that flashed. It read:


I came up with a safe-driving campaign that had this slogan: "Don't flash and drive!" And also this: "Use a designated flasher!" I will now suggest this last one: "Don't challenge taboos!"

Click here to read more . . .

November 21, 2005

Just wondering

Why was this included in my recommendations? Are they trying to tell me something (and not just sell me something)?

Click here to read more . . .

Sadly, Mr. Bush left his Myst linking book back at the hotel

Click here to read more . . .

Don't call me old!

I'd give anything to have my father appear in a story like these (via Fark):

  • An 83-year-old man who relied on oxygen tubes used his shotgun to scare off two robbers in his house who were forcing his wife to give them money.

  • An 87-year-old man flying a plane he had built had to make an emergency landing when his engine died, so he brought his plane down on the southbound lanes of a four-lane highway.
But don't worry. My siblings and I are already working on the plot line.

Click here to read more . . .

November 20, 2005

While I was away

Nothing happened, right?

Well, other than:

1. Jeff Goldstein "live-blogging" the launch of the festivities for Pajamas Media (a/k/a Open Source Media) in New York -- from Denver. Here's the start:

My cab pulled up outside the W a little before 9 PM New York time, and after checking in and dropping my suitcase on the bed, I immediately made my way to the hotel bar, where I found Tim Blair, Roger Simon, and Ed Driscoll bunched around a small table near the restrooms. Ed and Roger were nursing Gibsons, while Tim (who at 5’1” is much shorter than I thought he’d be) was drinking what looked to be IPA out of a pilsner glass inscribed with the legend, “Bloggers Do It In Their Pajamas."
Anyone who's spent any time at Protein Wisdom would have understood that Jeff was being, well, Jeff. It's an amusing read.

Not, however, some guy named Daniel Rubin from the Philadelphia Inquirer, who at first thought Jeff was really there. He later issued a correction after this amusing exchange in the comments:
Any bets on Dan's response when he figures out that Jeff @ Protein Wisdom was writing a 'fake, but accurate' version of events from his compound in Denver, Colorado.

Which is to say - Jeff isn't in NYC at the moment.

Will Dan issue a clarification?

A correction?

Respond with hearty blog-based good cheer and say 'Well, ya got me' or issue a claim that he knew it was fake (but meshably accurate) all along.

Time will tell.


Posted by: Credulity Nov 16, 2005 10:42:35 AM

bite me.

Posted by: Daniel Rubin Nov 16, 2005 10:47:38 AM
I'm not even going to discuss the whole Ann Althouse thing, which isn't nearly as funny.

2. The New York Times running a piece entitled "Sex Ed for the Stroller Set" about teaching toddlers about sex. Here's the lead paragraph:
THIS September 3-year-old Halley Vollmar of Bellmore, N.Y., was having her annual checkup when her pediatrician paused. "I'm going to check your peepee now," he warned, and tugged down her underwear. But Halley protested. "Mommy, why he call my vagina a peepee?" she scolded, telling the startled physician he was a "silly doctor" before allowing him to proceed.
Letters to the editor are here, at least until the link expires.

There's a lot to be said for truthful answers to kids' questions, and I always tried to give them, but the answers need to be age-appropriate. Sometimes minimal information can do the trick.

The Times article reminds me of the old joke about the 5-year-old kid who asks his mother, "Where did I come from?" His mother panics, then decides she's got to give him a truthful response. So she explains the birds and the bees, with all the technically correct terminology. After about five minutes, she breathes deeply and sighs. Her son looks at her and says, "Johnny says he came from Chicago."

Click here to read more . . .

Driving in Manhattan

Thank you to everyone who wondered where I've been for the past several days. I'm not the least offended that you didn't ask me, even as you were wondering about it. My site meter went into almost negative territory, so I know people were concerned. I was at my parents' house taking a turn driving my father to his radiation treatment. I mentioned my father's situation last spring, but he has enough tsuris these days that I'm not going to talk about his condition now, except to say that he's a very stubborn guy, and he has every intention of getting through this.

Anyway, I've driven in Manhattan enough to have some sense of the austere beauty of it. You laugh -- or at least, you scratch your head, or some other location -- but I'm serious. And the beauty of it is best appreciated with a zen approach in which you think beyond the reality. Here's an example: Say you're driving down Second Avenue from 96th to 72nd, as we were on Thursday and Friday. Second Avenue is 6 lanes wide, one way, heading downtown. Let's call the lanes 1 through 6.

So you have something like this:

I 1 I 2 I 3 I 4 I 5 I 6 I

Lines 1 and 6 are parking lanes, and you can't drive there. Aha! you say. That leaves four driving lanes, right?

I 2 I 3 I 4 I 5 I

Sorry, but you're jumping the gun. Lanes 2 and 5 are double-park lanes, where delivery trucks load and unload, cabs pick up and drop off passengers, and anyone who needs to make a short stop does so. I would say about a third of the space in Lanes 2 and 5 is occupied at any time, but even that level of congestion makes them absolutely useless for driving.

That means we're left with this:

I 3 I 4 I

It's still OK, you say. At least two lanes are open.

Well, sometimes. You're forgetting that delivery trucks sometimes have to back in to the double-park lanes, which blocks Lane 3 or 4. You're forgetting that taxis may be darting in and out of Lane 2 or 5, which sometimes blocks Lane 3 or 4. You're forgetting that if more than one car tries to turn left or right into a side street from Lane 3 or 4, and pedestrians are crossing that street, the backup blocks Lane 3 or 4. You make progress, or you don't. You get high blood pressure, or you don't. It's best to take the zen approach.

It's actually even more interesting on the main cross-town streets, like 96th, 86th, 79th, and 72nd. There, the six lanes are three in each direction. Again, Lanes 1 and 6 are for parking; Lanes 2 and 5 are for double parking. And Lanes 3 and 4 are often blocked by cars trying to make left turns at the avenues after waiting for the stream of traffic in the other direction to stop. If the double parkers are too close to the corner, this can shut down traffic completely as the people waiting for the cars trying to make a left turn are unable to get around to pass them.

If the cross-town streets and the avenues of Manhattan, metaphorically, are its arteries, the city should by all accounts have suffered cardiac arrest and be dead by now. But it hasn't and it isn't. And that always amazes me when I drive there.

Click here to read more . . .

fee simple: And You Thought Being a Terrorist Was Easy

Strategy Page reports: “Headaches Running Terrorist Organizations in Iraq.”

The enemy in Iraq is generally poorly trained, sloppy and led by unimaginative men. * * * But when properly motivated (often by fear for what will happen to their families), the enemy will make daring (and often suicidal) attacks.

* * *

The big problem with the enemy is getting their fighters motivated. For the last two years, the Sunni Arab leadership has used a combination of money, and promises of a return to the “good old days” (with Sunni Arabs in control of the oil money) once the Americans are driven out.

* * *

However, the last two years has been a time of constant defeat. Now, with American and Iraqi troops moving through the Sunni Arab heartland at will, and aggressively seeking terrorists, many more Sunni Arabs have given up.

Perhaps the terrorists would benefit from listening to motivational-speaker tapes by distinguished Americans like Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, and John P. Murtha.

Note: Attila has advised me to include “Posted by Fee Simple” in any of my posts so I receive proper credit. Actually, I’d prefer to receive anonymity, but here goes:

Posted by Fee Simple who will -- if pressed -- claim that Karl Rove forced him to type the foregoing using a Lord of the Sith mind control technique.

Click here to read more . . .

November 16, 2005

Alito talks about Roe

Previous strips:

The Alito files

John Roberts (update)

Harriet Miers

Harriet Miers and the Dems

Condi Rice

Click here to read more . . .

November 15, 2005

Columbia Journalism Review mocks Pillage Idiot

You know you've reached the pinnacle of . . . well, whatever, when the Columbia Journalism Review mocks you.

What appears to be the blog of the CJR has a post called "Anagram Wars" about anagrams for Samuel Alito's name. It mentions Hendrik Hertzberg's anagram (I am a sellout) and James Taranto's anagram (a litmus aloe) and notes:

Over the past week, both anagrams have spread through the back corridors of the Internet. Along the way, the Alito anagram has become a sort of litmus test of its own -- with the appearance of Taranto's anagram tending to signal a Web site's conservative bona fides, and vice versa with Hertzberg's.
Then, referring to Pillage Idiot and another blogger as "laptop pundits" (even though I don't use a laptop), it says about us:
The Pillage Idiot gave Alito's letters a whirl: "Justice Samuel Alito = usual ice jams toilet." Or alternatively, "Samuel A. Alito, Jr. = jealous marital = a jail's male tour."

In the meantime, Cerulean Blue posted an item, titled "Instead Of Useful Political Commentary, I Offer Pointless Anagrams." One of the highlights: "Samuel Anthony Alito" equals "A hen oils my aunt a lot."
And, of course, the CJR can't end without a smart-ass remark:
Congrats to one and all for mastering those Internet anagram generators. Too bad the letters of Alito's name can't be rearranged to spell, "Get a life, guys!"
Which, of course, is ridiculous. Who spent the time trolling the blogosphere for Alito anagrams? Not I.

I merely point out that the letters of "Get a life, guys!" can be rearranged to spell:

Gee, fat is ugly


I lay egg/fetus

So there!

UPDATE: Taranto weighs in, complaining that "we had the 'sellout' anagram on Nov. 3, four days before Hertzberg." He doesn't mention my anagrams for "Get a life, guys!" but he asks, "Hey Felix, who's more of a loser, someone who comes up with anagrams or someone who writes about someone who comes up with anagrams?"

Speaking of being merely less of a loser than the CJR writer, here are some more anagrams for "Get a life, guys!":

guilty gas fee
if gal eyes gut
ye futile gags
easy glue gift
Yale fetus gig

Click here to read more . . .

November 13, 2005

Martha's Vineyard morality

I sometimes check out a column in the Sunday New York Times Magazine called "The Ethicist" just to see what Randy Cohen is up to. I call his brand of ethics "Martha's Vineyard morality," because it's the morality of the upper-class set, the rich, northeastern liberals who devour the Sunday NY Times over catered brunch.

Today's column is a truly superior example of the genre. Here is the question posed:

Last week I lent a friend a car while her husband was away on a fishing trip. Coincidently, a neighbor's wife was away that week. My car was seen in the neighbor's driveway overnight, easily recognizable because of my kid's college decals plastered on it. A few people have inquired about my car's being there overnight. How do I explain without ratting out my friend? C.W., Atlanta
Start with the final line of the question. The questioner's goal is to find a way to disentangle herself (the context suggesting that the questioner is a woman) from a presumably adulterous situation involving the "friend," undertaken in such a way as to cast suspicion on the questioner.

Despite the grotesque behavior of the "friend" and the thoughtless, not to say horribly inconsiderate, behavior of that friend, the questioner wants to know how to avoid "ratting out" the friend. If I were in that situation, and I realized a friend was involved in an adulterous affair, I would have serious difficulty remaining friends with the person. I know I wouldn't want to be friends with an embezzler or a shoplifter, and to me, cheating on your spouse with a married person is about as serious a transgression I can think of, short of violent crime. What would make this even worse for me is that the adulterer friend misused my car and potentially implicated me in the affair. I wouldn't treat taking action to protect myself as ratting out my probably former friend.

But back to MVM. Here, the questioner doesn't seem upset with the friend. She just wants advice on, one assumes, how to lie to people to protect herself and her friend.

And "The Ethicist" doesn't disappoint. After first advising the questioner to say nothing, Cohen goes on to suggest this tactic:
Next time your friend borrows your car, tell her not to use it for anything that would put you in an awkward position - sloppily conducted illicit liaisons, liquor-store robberies. It is not your obligation to demand that she end her affair, nor is it in your power to enforce such a ukase, but you can decline to abet actions that offend your principles (if indeed hers do). You would not feel compelled to offer her your apartment as a trysting place; you need not lend her your car to drive to one.
Notice two things about this response. First, the joking way in which Cohen deliberately lumps together adulterous affairs and armed robberies. No suggestion that the former is bad; to the contrary, by mentioning them together in a light-hearted way, he suggests that affairs are obviously at the far end of the spectrum from street crime. They may in fact be different, but the prose here makes light of a serious transgression. Second, he writes that the questioner may "decline to abet actions that offend [her] principles" and feels the need to add "if indeed hers do." True, the questioner suggests that these actions don't offend her principles, but there is an air about the parenthetical phrase that conveys the idea that, of course, right-thinking liberals like Cohen wouldn't object to a friend's adultery.

And then, to end his response, Cohen turns into what he jokingly calls the "Adulterer's Adviser," which he pretends not to be ("it is not within the purview of my column to suggest better tactics for assisting adultery"). As the Adulterer's Adviser, he offers this suggestion:
[T]o people curious about your parking: tell them you lent your car not to the friend but to the neighbor in whose driveway it sat overnight. You would need to enlist him as a conspirator, and you would be telling a lie, but a clever lie, an effective lie and one that impugned nobody's conduct -- questionable ethics, but fine craftsmanship.
So not only does he not suggest for a minute that anything is wrong with the friend's adultery -- it's more a matter of the questioner's personal taste -- but he goes so far as to offer "just in case" advice about lying to cover up the affair.

Please remember this the next time the New York Times waxes moralistic about matters of public concern.

Click here to read more . . .

November 12, 2005

Jimmy Carter once again refuses to shut up

Our 39th president just can't seem to shut up.

The Washington Post runs a short AP item today with the following headline: "Carter 'Disturbed' by Direction of U.S." The headline should have been truncated to "Carter 'Disturbed.'" Because he is.

Former President Jimmy Carter, on a tour to promote his latest book, is sharply questioning the direction the Bush administration has taken the country.

"Everywhere you go, you hear, 'What has happened to the United States of America? We thought you used to be the champion of human rights. We thought you used to protect the environment. We thought you used to believe in the separation of church and state,'" Carter said Friday at Unity Temple.
He should have added: "What happened? We thought you used to do nothing when you were attacked by Islamic fundamentalists."

And you know Carter's right that the people he speaks to everywhere he goes -- college campuses, left-wing churches, third-world dictatorships -- liked it a lot better that way.

So Carter says (annoying registration required):
We now have a new policy called pre-emptive war…We’ve reserved the right to go to war with another country if they have an unsavory leader we want to remove or sometime in the distant future our security might be threatened.
The distant future? How about November 1979, on his presidential watch, when the Iranians took our people hostage in the embassy in Tehran, and he did nothing for the last 14 months of his presidency, other than to send a handful of under-armed and under-staffed troops on a hopeless rescue mission? If he couldn't bring himself to do anything in response to an actual attack, day after day for 444 days, he's got no business talking about how imminent the threat has to be now.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers.

If you have a couple of minutes, please take a look at some of the posts below and on the sidebar, like this one.

Click here to read more . . .

House arrest

If you've been wondering what Christopher Colombo has been doing in the 513 years since he discovered America, you may be in for a surprise -- and by "you" I mean the federal prosecutor who has the man on house arrest while he awaits trial on racketeering and extortion charges.

According to various news sources, Colombo, a reputed Mafia don's son (by which I mean the son of a reputed Mafia don, not a reputed son of the man), took advantage of the terms of his house arrest by appearing in an HBO reality show called, coincidentally, "House Arrest."

The government learned of his activities after his lawyer, Jeremy Schneider, wrote the judge asking permission for Mr. Colombo to attend a nighttime screening of the show next Monday.

An HBO news release about a preview of the show, which Mr. Colombo submitted to the judge, says he "visits a Reiki therapist, a strip club, a Bronx tailor, a church confessional, his favorite Chinese restaurant and a nightclub." Then, the release says, he rushes home in time for curfew to meet "two women who just might add a private 'happy ending' to his busy day."
Look, we can all understand allowing an indicted racketeer to visit a strip club, a church, or a nightclub. But a Reiki therapist? Not a good idea.

The feds are quite unhappy with the whole plan.
The government letter quotes another press report as saying that an associate of Colombo during the episode tries to use a credit card to open the locked doors of a church and that Colombo says "this could be a violation of my bail restriction."

Lawsky wrote that Colombo apparently filmed the show as he traveled throughout Orange County and New York City for several months after the judge relaxed his bail conditions at an August 2004 hearing so he could attend to family matters.

"Rather than use his newly granted freedom to spend time with his family and attend to the needs of his children, as his previous attorney claimed he would do, Colombo seems to have spent a large amount of his time filming his show, which reportedly makes a mockery of Colombo's conditions of release," Lawsky said. "In doing so, Colombo has used and abused the freedom the court granted him over the government's objection to go strip clubs, attempt to break into churches and generally gallivant around town with his associates."
Here's a problem with what the magistrate did: she "relaxed his bail conditions" so he could "attend to family matters." Did it ever occur to her that when a Mafia don, or his son, asks to attend to "family" matters, she should have been a little more suspicious?

Click here to read more . . .

November 11, 2005

"The sourpuss Left"

What happens when Kurdistan, "the other Iraq," decides to run an advertising campaign thanking the United States (and Great Britain) for freeing it from Saddam and bringing it democracy?

Well, what Judith at Kesher Talk predicts is that the "sourpuss Left" will say the Kurds are shills for Bush; they're inauthentic voices of the region; and so on. She ought to know. She spends her time on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Having lived there myself for four or five years, I have little doubt she's correct. That was back in the first half of the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan was "hurling" the poor out onto the streets, as a National Pinko Radio commentator once observed. Then, our congressman, Ted Weiss was the only member of the House to vote against a bill restricting child pornography. I asked his campaign representative why he had voted against the bill, and the guy gave me some line about serious civil-liberties problems with the bill. I thought of asking why not a single colleague of his saw the same serious civil-liberties problems, but I realized the man was speaking a foreign language and might not have understood reality.

By the way, read the comments to Judith's post for more "dialogue" on the topic.

Click here to read more . . .


There's a running joke in my family about teenagers who use the word "like," like, every other, like, word. My kids have been known to do this, in moderation, but my youngest points it out whenever either of his siblings falls into the trap.

Today being a federal holiday -- Veterans' Day, for those of you outside the U.S. -- I went to a parents' open house at the Jewish school my youngest attends. I sat in on his (modern) Hebrew class and discovered that the 13- and 14-year-olds in that class really, like, like Hebrew, in this sense:

V'achshav, like, zeh, like, ha-davar ha-gadol, like . . .

Well, you get the, like, idea, whether or not you know Hebrew.

Click here to read more . . .

November 10, 2005

Yet another white meat

If you've ever been sitting around on a Sunday afternoon wondering what to have for dinner, and you're sick and tired of chicken, have you ever said to yourself, "You know, what I'd really like to chow down on is a nice leg?" By which you mean a nice human leg? We know that some people have said this to themselves, so we can be pretty sure there's a market for it.

So what do you do? Do you walk into your supermarket and tell the guy behind the meat counter that you want some of that other white meat, and when he says "Pork?" you say, "No I meant the other other white meat: human"? No, you don't, because the man is holding a butcher's cleaver.

What you do is, you go back home, boot up your computer, and go online to order some Hufu(TM), a human flesh tofu-based substitute. Those of you who have been around here from the beginning may remember that I came up with the idea of tofu-based duck (for infantile reasons explained here), but this one is a topper. (Thanks to Jonah Goldberg for the pointer.)

The FAQs for Hufu are worth reading, especially this discussion of the name:

Where did you get the name HufuTM?
The original concept name was "hofu," a combination of human and tofu. However, one of our business associates was describing the product with a friend on a Eurostar train going from London to Paris. Milla Jovovich, the actress and super-model, overheard the conversation and intrigued, turned around to join in the conversation, and commented, "Hofu" sounds like [the male organ] -- you should call it "hufu." We thought her insight was highly original and insightful, and we thought HufuTM definitely had a better ring to it.
I'm not quite sure which male organ "Hofu" sounds like, most certainly not the male organ many of us are thinking of. Maybe Milla Jovovich (whom, I admit, I had never heard of before) is familiar with another type of male organ. Or perhaps something was lost in translation from the Ukrainian.

Apparently, the latter. An article here about Mark Nuckols, the founder of Hufu (TM), provides this explanation:
He also claims that the name "hufu" was actually coined by actress and model Milla Jovovich. Several years ago, a business associate was discussing Nuckols' idea, then called "hofu," with a friend on a Eurostar train going from London to Paris. Jovovich, intrigued, allegedly turned around to join in the conversation, commenting, "'Hofu' sounds like 'c*ck' -- you should call it 'hufu.'"

"As far as I can speculate, she meant 'ho food,'" Nuckols said. "She's a supermodel -- she doesn't have to make sense."

Jovovich's publicist has not replied to inquiries from The Dartmouth
Well, I'm glad we got that straightened out. Or not.

Finally, the question I'm sure everyone now wants the answer to: Is it kosher? Well, you know that real human flesh isn't kosher. People don't have cloven hooves and chew their cud -- well, at least they don't outside of a few well known left-wingers in the blogosphere. But is this vegan variant produced under rabbinical certification? As of last May, the answer, sadly for those who care, is no (scroll down at that link):
5/23/2005 3:51:41 AM - "Kosher Hufu?"

Shalom, Your product is intriguing, but is it kosher? Kol tuv, Reb Moishe
- Reb Moishe Kahanne Ba'al

HUFU, LLC responds:
We are not yet certified Kosher, but we're working on it. Mazel tov!
I hope certification won't depend on whether the "male organ" is circumcised.

UPDATE: I didn't notice that there were further posts at the Corner on Hufu (TM). Here's the best one. And Cliff May has just suggested an advertising slogan based on "the other, other white meat." I wouldn't assume he's read my post above. It's really pretty obvious.

Click here to read more . . .

November 09, 2005

Superman don't need no seat belt

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Serbs, but not the Huns


According to this article, mentioned by Jonah Goldberg at the Corner, Serbs are "lining up to have electric shocks delivered to their testicles as part of a new contraceptive treatment."

The "fertility expert" quoted in the article, Dr. Sava Bojovic, says that "the small electric shock makes men temporarily infertile by stunning their sperm into a state of immobility."

He said: "We attach electrodes to either side of the testicles and send low electricity currents flowing through them.

"This stuns the sperm, effectively putting them to sleep for up to 10 days, which means couples can have sex without fear of getting pregnant.

"The method does not kill the sperm permanently and it does not affect the patient's health."

Dr Bojovic added patients were now lining up at his fertility clinic in Novi Banovci for the shock treatment, as it had none of the problems attached to using condoms, the male pill or having a vasectomy.
This doesn't make much sense to me. What happens when the stunned sperm wake up in a strange bed (so to speak)? Do they say to themselves, and each other, I guess we're not supposed to go about our business? Doesn't this sound like a Woody Allen movie -- a cross between Sleeper and Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex?

I figure this must be a sick joke by that infamous Serbian tyrant Slobodan Milosevic, because the final sentence of the article is really too much to believe:
[Dr. Bojovic] added: "We are hoping to have a small battery powered version on sale in the shops in time for Xmas."
Can you imagine how great this would be for women in bad marriages? "OK, dear, no headache tonight, but first you have to give yourself electric shocks in your testicles, and you know how I like it slow." If this thing had been available in the U.S., John Bobbitt would have been in pain but intact.

Click here to read more . . .

November 08, 2005

Yet another anagram

James Taranto has been posting anagrams of "Samuel Alito." Of course, it turns out that you do much better with "Justice Samuel Alito," even though he won't be a justice any time before late January.

Justice Samuel Alito = usual ice jams toilet

Click here to read more . . .

Samurai Prime Minister

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That's not funny!

Q. How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. That's not funny!

Probably the oldest question in the universe, the meaning of life being second-oldest, is why women don't think things are funny that obviously are. Last January, I wrote about whether men are funnier than women -- really a different question -- but, via The Volokh Conspiracy, I've now learned that CNN has taken up the issue of why women view humorous things differently.

Here's the answer, or, at least, the answer of some researchers:

Women seem more likely than men to enjoy a good joke, mainly because they don't always expect it to be funny.

* * * * *

"Women appeared to have less expectation of a reward, which in this case was the punch line of the cartoon," said Reiss. "So when they got to the joke's punch line, they were more pleased about it."

I'm not sure whether this notion that women like jokes because they don't expect them to be funny is condescending to women. It's counter-intuitive at the very least. But guys, if you haven't figured this out yet, the idea that women enjoy things more when they have low expections has a number of other useful applications.

Back to the "science":

Men are using the same network in the brain, but less so, he said, men are less discriminating.

"It doesn't take a lot of analytical machinery to think someone getting poked in the eye is funny," he commented when asked about humor like the Three Stooges.

While there is a lot of overlap between how men and women process humor, the differences can help account for the fact that men gravitate more to one-liners and slapstick while women tend to use humor more in narrative form and stories, Reiss said.

The funnier the cartoon the more the reward center in the women's brain responded, unlike men who seemed to expect the cartoons to be funny from the beginning, the researchers said.

I don't know about the theory about women, but the point about the Three Stooges seems wrong to me. What men go through in watching the Three Stooges is actually highly analytical, if you'll let me get technical here for a moment and use a logical syllogism.

Major premise: Eyes are highly sensitive to pressure.

Minor premise: Moe just poked Larry in the eyes with his index and middle fingers.

Conclusion: It would have been even funnier if he had kicked Larry in the groin.

I've been thinking about the gender gap in humor myself for the past couple of weeks. Recently, I watched The Naked Gun on DVD. In case you haven't seen this movie, the first of the trilogy, you should realize that it's the official movie of Pillage Idiot.* Watch it. Now. Seeing O.J. Simpson get the stuffing kicked out of him at every turn is alone worth the price of admission.

I saw The Naked Gun with Mrs. Attila in the movie theater when it first came out. We had been married for about five years at that point, but I still had things to learn. She didn't think it was funny at all, whereas I would have been literally rolling on the floor if my shoes hadn't been stuck to the floor in a Coke spill. (Since then, I've let her pick the movies we see, and I've learned one important thing, namely, that all Merchant and Ivory films are basically the same.)

Anyway, what I don't get about the theory that women are more analytical about jokes than men is that everyone knows that men are more analytical in every other subject. It's analytical talk that perennially gets men in hot water with their wives or girlfriends. You're supposed to understand their feelings, guys, not explain why she shouldn't be feeling the way she is. If she's upset with someone, you commiserate rather than come up with a solution.

My last rumination on the subject is why married men and women can't tell jokes to other people. They're always interrupting each other and correcting the way the other is telling the joke. I know I do this. Even though I stink at telling jokes, and therefore let my wife tell them, I can't sit there and listen quietly. I have to interrupt her along the way to correct her. Back in my college days, when I took two years of German, I thought this short story was the funniest thing I had read: Ein Ehepaar erzählt einen Witz (a married couple tells a joke), by Kurt Tucholsky. The narrator listens as the man and woman tell a joke, exchanging corrections, re-tellings, and insults, until they finally blow up and storm out of the room, leaving the narrator to wonder what the punch line is. For days, we begged our German instructor to tell us the punch line. Then we finally heard it.

It just wasn't funny.

So if high expectations lead to poor humor, maybe there's some truth to the idea that if you expect nothing, you'll find the joke funny.

* The official classic movie of Pillage Idiot is A Night at the Opera.

UPDATE: Ann Althouse wonders whether the results were purposely written up in a way that makes women sound superior.

Click here to read more . . .

Postcards from a meeting in Argentina

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November 07, 2005

Zees ees not possibeel

Is it possible to damage France's image?

The head of France's main employers' group expressed concern about the impact the unrest could have on tourism and investment in France, where sluggish growth is stifling job creation.

"France's image has been deeply damaged," Laurence Parisot told Europe 1 radio.
Confirmed, maybe? The Reuters article also quotes Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, everyone's favorite escargot, as rejecting advice to call out the army: "We have not reached that point." Perhaps he should call out French intelligence, which successfully quashed a Greenpeace protest by sinking its boat, the "Rainbow Warrior."

Click here to read more . . .

Blind leading the blind

Laurence Simon mocks the EU for offering to send advisors to the PA to help build and organize a police force. Photo included.

Click here to read more . . .

Smoking in Seattle

Gerard van der Leun and a friend explore what is most definitely NOT a bong shop in Seattle. The store sells bongs, but they're called water pipes. And if you, the customer, refer to them as bongs, you will be ejected from the store. Seriously.

I love this remark from the friend, a financial analyst: "Somehow," Stephen says, "I don't think that store is a candidate for franchising."

Click here to read more . . .

November 06, 2005

Learning by doing

Today's Post Metro section has a lengthy article on the latest trend in teen sex: doing it in school. Like on the wrestling mats, for example. Some educators sound alarmed, but this was entirely predictable.

And you absolutely know that, first thing Monday morning, the Cucumber People in Montgomery County will be calling a press conference demanding that they be allowed to show their condom-on-the-cucumber sex-ed instructional video. After all, sex in school is caused by parents who demand abstinence education.

(For the record, I personally don't think abstinence education alone is enough, but it should be a serious part of the sex-ed curriculum and not just some throat-clearing on the way to the real stuff. Kids know when adults are shoveling it.)

Previous snark about the Cucumber People:

Vegetable attraction

Scopes trial of the Left?

The cucumber people bring in the big guns

The cucumber people study videotapes of the game

The cucumber people go limp

The cucumber people reach a settlement

UPDATE (9/6/06): The cucumber people get a new name

Click here to read more . . .

Out, out, damned spot!

Jack's Shack reports a confrontation with a co-worker who thinks he didn't wash his hands enough in the men's room: The GermoPhobe. Fortunately, a court stenographer was present to record the conversation.

Click here to read more . . .

November 05, 2005

WaPo is beyond parody

Have you noticed that the French "youths" engaged in the rioting in the "suburbs" around Paris are just called "youths" in the TV and print media, as if they were a bunch of drunken soccer-loving yobs and hooligans? Almost no one seem willing to mention that these are almost exclusively unassimilated Muslims.

Today, the Washington Times actually mentioned this in the first sentence of its article.

The United States government warned Americans yesterday to stay clear of violence-wracked Parisian suburbs, as rioting gangs of Arab and African youths, mostly Muslims, torched cars, schools and buses for an eighth straight night.
But the Washington Post? Take a look at its front-page headline:
As Youth Riots Spread Across France, Muslim Groups Attempt to Intervene
According to the headline, it's generic "youths" who are rioting and Muslims who are trying to stop the rioting. Only in the sixth paragraph does the Post mention the unpleasant news of who these rioters are.

UPDATE (11/6): And I thought I was pessimistic. I've often said that France will be a Muslim country in 15 or 20 years. Mark Steyn (via Solomonia) starts a column this way:
Ever since 9/11, I've been gloomily predicting the European powder keg's about to go up. "By 2010 we'll be watching burning buildings, street riots and assassinations on the news every night," I wrote in Canada's Western Standard back in February.

Silly me. The Eurabian civil war appears to have started some years ahead of my optimistic schedule. As Thursday's edition of the Guardian reported in London: "French youths fired at police and burned over 300 cars last night as towns around Paris experienced their worst night of violence in a week of urban unrest."
And he remarks on the "youths" terminology.
''French youths,'' huh? You mean Pierre and Jacques and Marcel and Alphonse? Granted that most of the "youths" are technically citizens of the French Republic, it doesn't take much time in les banlieus of Paris to discover that the rioters do not think of their primary identity as ''French'': They're young men from North Africa growing ever more estranged from the broader community with each passing year and wedded ever more intensely to an assertive Muslim identity more implacable than anything you're likely to find in the Middle East.

Click here to read more . . .

Wesley Baker back on the hot seat

Convicted murderer Wesley E. Baker is about to begin his last-minute appeals, because Governor Ehrlich has signed a death warrant for him.

Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has signed a death warrant for condemned inmate Wesley E. Baker, ordering what would be the state's first execution in more than a year and the second since 1998.

Baker's sentence was stayed three years ago to give state-sponsored researchers time to complete an analysis of racial and other inequalities in the application of the state's death penalty law. Ehrlich (R) signed a warrant Thursday for his execution during the five-day period beginning Dec. 5, acting on the same day that prosecutors requested the warrant and choosing the earliest date available under the law.
I wrote at some length about this case, the race angle on crime statistics, and the bias study referred to in today's Post article back in June in Looking for bias in all the wrong places.

Click here to read more . . .

Another scary toilet alert

What does it mean for the future of the Free World when we have two scary toilet alerts almost back to back? Or should I say, backside to backside?

In our previous STA, a three-year-old discovered a large carnivorous lizard in the toilet.

Today's STA involves a man who has sued Home Depot because he was glued to the toilet seat in the store for 20 minutes while employees "ignored his plight." The trouble is that when you have to use the toilet in a large warehouse store, "plight" is exactly what you will have, in spades.

A Colorado man who had a panic attack when he found he was glued to a toilet seat in a Home Depot restroom has sued the home improvement giant for negligence, saying staff ignored his plight.

Retired electrical engineer Bob Dougherty, 57, said on Thursday he was stuck in the stall with his pants down for about 20 minutes and that two years after the 2003 incident he was suffering from post-traumatic stress, which has triggered diabetes and heart complications.

"I have these nightmares every night where I am locked in this dark room, with no windows, no doors, no fresh air, no route for escape. I wake up in these cold sweats," Dougherty said.

Spokesmen for Home Depot Inc. could not immediately be reached for comment.
Probably they were hiding out in the john.

Here's some more on the suit's allegations:
The lawsuit said after about 15 minutes, store officials called for an ambulance. Paramedics unbolted the toilet seat, and while wheeling a "frightened and humiliated" Dougherty out of the store, he passed out.

The lawsuit said the toilet seat separated from his skin, leaving abrasions.

"This is not Home Depot's fault," he said. "But I am blaming them for letting me hang in there and just ignoring me."
Talk about being Stuck on Stupid!

But here's some advice: You know those toilet-seat-shaped sheets of paper that they have in public bathrooms? They're there to save your ass. Let them get glued to the seat, instead of your own skin.

UPDATE (11/10): Apparently, there's some question whether this fellow is a scammer. (Via Fark)

Click here to read more . . .

November 03, 2005

Senatorial house cleaning?

Senators Reid, Schumer, Durbin, and Stabenow have called for Dick Cheney to have a "thorough housecleaning" in the VP's office. (via Jeff Goldstein, who as usual sets the scene brilliantly)

My questions are: Will they clean his office? And if so, will they do it nude?

Click here to read more . . .

Tower of Boobel

All right, guys. How many of you go into a women's lingerie store to buy your wife some underwear? Hands? Well, let me tell you, it's a waste of time and money. If your wife is normal, she doesn't want the sleaze that you want. So buy her flowers instead.

Now that I've got that off my chest, we can discuss hers.

A Dutch designer has figured out that most of you guys who try to buy women's underwear are probably buying it for yourselves to wear. No, wait, that's not what she figured out. According to this news item, she figured out that you don't have any idea what her size is, and by "her" size, I mean your wife's, not the designer's. So she (and by "she" I mean the designer, not your wife) has found a solution.

A Dutch designer has created a wall of fake breasts to help male shoppers buy bras that fit their wives or girlfriends.

Wendy Rameckers works at the Piet Zwart Institute for Retail and Design in Rotterdam, reports Het Nieuwsblad.

"Most men have a selective memory," she explained. "They know all about their car, but never seem to know their wife's bra size.

"When trying to buy a sexy bra for their wife or girlfriend, usually they point to other women in the shop or, when asked about size, they say a 'handful'."

The wall consists of rows of silicon breasts in all sizes. By look and touch, male shoppers can work out the right size, she says.
And as the commenters at this site, which I stumbled across in a Google News search, point out, this is going to encourage some really creepy visitors to the store. Or maybe it'll just be a bunch of testosterone-crazed teenaged boys.

What I'm trying to figure out is whether the wall will just have breasts or will also have fake bodies to put them in context. In other words, is it going to look like Home Depot's display of light fixtures? That'll be nice, won't it?

And don't even think of suggesting this.

Hat tip: fee simple

UPDATE: Soccer Dad says that this wouldn't work in Iran. (Aren't you surprised?) He cites an article that begins:
Police in northeastern Iran are launching a new morality drive by confiscating alluring mannequins from boutiques and clothes stalls in the bazaar, authorities in the city of Bojnourd said Monday.

Click here to read more . . .

Scary toilet alert

Thanks to Jonah Goldberg at The Corner, we can worry about something we never worried about before -- watching out for large carnivorous lizards when using the toilet.

A three-year-old boy got the fright of his life on a trip to the toilet on Wednesday.

The youngster was lucky that his mother had come along to open and raise the toilet seat. The startled woman found a carnivorous teju, or tegus, a large black and yellow South American lizard, lurking there newspaper Bergensavisen reports.

"Not a nice experience," is the father's summary. He came running when he heard the sound of screaming from the family toilet.
There's a lovely photo that accompanies the article, too. Don't miss it.

And in case you're not worried yet, consider this:
The teju is capable of holding its breath for half an hour, which probably explains how it managed to navigate its way through the sewer and up into the family toilet. The family is lucky they looked, rather than sat, first.

"The chances are greater that the lizard would have taken a bite out of someone's 'ham', than that it wouldn't have," Akvariet director Kees Ekeli told Bergensavisen.
This lends new meaning to the phrase "watch your back."

Click here to read more . . .

Alito and the Jews

Well, we can all exhale now that we're starting to hear what the Jews think about Alito. There's an article in the Washington Jewish Week detailing the miscellaneous ruminations on the perennial issue: Is it good or bad for the Jews?

Actually, that used to be the issue for Jews. Now, for some Jews at least, the question is: Is it good or bad for abortion rights? I kid you not.

I'll spare you from having to read the article. The orthodox are not taking a position on the nomination, though a spokesman said that Alito is "clearly someone who is sensitive to religious minorities." And an orthodox former Alito clerk speaks highly of the judge:

Title VII, the applicable civil rights law, "does not permit an employer to manipulate job requirements for the purpose of putting an employee to the 'cruel choice' between religion and employment," Alito wrote.

Such insights are typical of Alito, his former law clerk, Jeffrey Wasserstein, told JTA.

"He is a Catholic, but his sensitivity to nonmajority religions was quite interesting to watch, not what one would expect from someone being tarred by the press as extraordinarily conservative," said Wasserstein, an observant Jew who served with Alito from 1997-98 and now is a health care attorney.
Let's not pick nits here, but Catholicism is also a nonmajority religion in the United States.

Reform Jews probably will take a position, and you know what that will be:
In the opinion in the creche cases, "he was on the opposite side of much of the Jewish community," said Mark Pelavin, associate director of the Reform movement's Religious Action Center.

* * * * *
Pelavin suggested the Reform movement also would have a role to play ‹ probably not one particularly sympathetic to Alito.

"It's not just about competence, it's about the court shifting on fundamental issues, including reproductive rights and religious liberty," he said.
And the National Council of Jewish Women:
The National Council of Jewish Women, which usually takes the lead in abortion-related announcements, was the first Jewish group to formally oppose Alito.

"Judge Alito has ruled to severely restrict a woman's constitutional right to abortion and against civil rights protections for both women and minorities," NCJW said in a statement Monday.
Yeah, Alito's going to bring back back-alley abortions and segregated lunch counters. Did Teddy Kennedy write their press release (or did they write his)? Don't answer that.

Previous: The Alito files (a photo-comic strip)

Click here to read more . . .

November 02, 2005

Reviewing lawyer jokes

The TaxProf Blog briefly discusses a review of a book called Lowering the Bar: Lawyer Jokes and Legal Culture, by Marc Galanter. Among the TaxProf's favorite jokes are these:

Did you hear about the post office having to cancel its commemorative issue honoring lawyers? It seems that it was too confusing—people didn’t know which side of the stamp to spit on. (p.198)

[A lawyer explaining his fees to his client] “If you want justice, it’s two hundred dollars an hour. Obstruction of justice runs a bit more.” (p.238)

Hear the good news and the bad news? The good news is that a bus load of lawyers just ran off the cliff. The bad news is that there were three empty seats on the bus. (p.213)

There is an old story of a lawyer named Strange and his wife having a conference as to the things he wished done after he had departed this life. “I want a headstone put over me, my dear,” said the lawyer, “with the simple inscription—‘Here lies an honest lawyer.’” The wife expressed surprise that he did not wish his name put on the headstone. “It will not be needful,” he responded, “for those who pass by and read that inscription will invariably remark: ‘That’s Strange.’” (p. 36)
The bus-over-a-cliff joke is old, and it's mean-spirited without being funny -- which is unforgivable. But I like the one about obstruction of justice. When I was in private practice in New York, a partner at my firm once quipped, "Justice delayed is a client well served." He was speaking of normal dilatory tactics, not obstruction, but I always liked his aphorism.

The TaxProf also includes three of his own about tax lawyers.

Coincidentally, speaking of lawyer jokes, Scott Adams, of Dilbert fame, has started a blog, and he writes about a recent cartoon of his in which a company lawyer is killed by a porpoise. I didn't realize this, but he wrote two versions of the cartoon because his editors thought that some newspapers wouldn't like the one in which the lawyer was discovered with a porpoise's head up his tuchis.
Apparently there’s an unwritten rule about showing a porpoise with his head in a lawyer’s ass.
Both versions are available at the Dilbert blog.

Click here to read more . . .