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June 28, 2006

A remedy for flag-burning

So the Senate has now failed to pass the flag-burning amendment by a single vote. As contempuous as I am of the foolishness and false bravery of those who burn the flag, I can't say I'm sad to see the amendment go down.

Mind you, I don't have respect for the Times editorialists, who yesterday scolded the Senate for "trying to torch a hole in the First Amendment's free speech guarantee." Aren't these the same guys who have been pushing legislative efforts to shut down speech in the campaign context? Who support virually all restrictions on campaign speech, so long as the established press can say whatever it pleases? Don't lecture me on torching the First Amendment.

Back when I was in law school, yea, these many years ago, we learned that central to the goals of the First Amendment was the protection of what was called "core political speech." (From a summary of First Amendment law: "The First Amendment elevates core political speech above all other forms of individual expression by prohibiting laws that regulate it unless the laws are narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest.") But the Supreme Court has eroded that protection through its decisions upholding legislative restrictions on speech in the campaign context. (I haven't yet read Monday's decision invalidating important parts of Vermont's statute.)

The Supreme Court has reduced its protection of "core political speech" significantly, and, considering how well pornography fared in the Court in contrast, I took to joking that the First Amendment actually was intended to protect "core pornographic speech."

But back to my topic: flag-burning.

The problem can be addressed reasonably by effectively removing the burning and the anger it causes from the legal system. We lawyers don't have the answer to everything. Society doesn't need to regulate all human behavior.

So what I propose is this: Provide a defense to a charge of simple assault for someone who reacts to a flag burner by slugging him. No excessive violence is allowed. No weapons, no serious injury. That is, no aggravated assault. If you're charged with simple assault for roughing up a flag-burner, you have a defense.

DEFENSE FOR ASSAULT ON FLAG-BURNERS: It shall be a defense to a charge of simple assault that the person assaulted was burning or attempting to burn the American flag.

I realize that such a statute would be subject to First Amendment criticism in the same way as a direct ban on flag-burning. But I think the result of the statute would be that a charge of simple assault would simply not be brought in the first place, which would avoid the issue entirely.

Click here to read more . . .

"When will we return to normalcy?"

Sometimes in the course of an attack on Bush a phrase slips out that is most revealing. From the letters to the editor of the New York Times this morning, on the subject of the Times's disclosure of the secret SWIFT program involving terrorist bank records:

To the Editor:

Re "Bush Condemns Report on Sifting of Bank Records" (front page, June 27):

President Bush calls the conduct of The New York Times and other newspapers "disgraceful" for revealing a secret program to track terrorists.

I say it is the conduct of his administration that is disgraceful.

What started out as a war against a specific enemy — Al Qaeda — has evolved into an unwinnable war against invisible, nameless enemies.

This war is now a political tool, one that the Republicans have used to pit Americans against their fellow Americans.

The information being collected (phone records and bank records) — how will we ever know that it is being used for legitimate purposes?

Some people say the snooping is all right, frightened of the specter of terrorists. I'm tired of the promotion of fear and the prying into our private lives.

When will we return to normalcy?

Homer Thiel
Tucson, June 27, 2006
The link is here, but there is no blog-safe link that will last more than a week. [UPDATE: Thanks to Soccer Dad in the comments, here's a link that shouldn't expire.]

To Thiel, this is a fake, political war against nameless and faceless enemies. BDS? Check! What's revealing is that he's desperate to have this war go away. Why can't things be normal again? Why can't it be September 10 again?

And from the longing for "normalcy" (a Warren G. Harding neologism, ironically) he concludes that we must act as if the threat were not there.

To me, this explains so much about the anti-Bush left. The desire for "normalcy" is a totally human motivation, but grownups have to overcome their futile longings to cope with the real world. Bush has done that. The left has absolutely not.

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June 27, 2006

Best wishes to Doug Duncan

Maryland Conservatarian has already wished good luck to Doug Duncan, the Montgomery County Executive, who recently withdrew from the Democratic primary for governor because of clinical depression. It's about time I added my wishes.

When I moved to Rockville in 1987, we had a mayor named Steve van Grack, a trial lawyer (the mayor being a non-partisan, part-time official) who was infected by the dread federal-government disease. On Rockville Pike, Maryland Route 355, it was sometimes hard for pedestrians to have enough time to cross at the light, as it surely still is. Van Grack, rather than seeking an adjustment in the timing of the lights, rather than being extravagant and seeking funds to build pedestrian overpasses, was trying to drum up support for an expensive study to look into a "people mover" to take pedestrians up and down the Pike and across. Doug Duncan ran against van Grack in the non-partisan election and won. He served three two-year terms as mayor. During his time in office, almost no one could complain about the way the city ran. Even a guy like me, who's naturally skeptical of government, was impressed.

I've been less impressed by Duncan as County Executive, and I wasn't really looking forward to seeing him elected governor. I think he's an example of how a sensible Democrat has to abandon more and more of his sense as he seeks higher office. The more Democrats you need to support you, the more you're forced into the fever swamps of the left. Duncan already found himself smacked down by the abortion fanatics a few years ago when he was making noises about seeking the governorship. We saw his "Suha Arafat moment" earlier this year. If I had really paid attention, I could probably cite more examples.

But through all of this, I always felt he was a decent human being, and I wish him and his family all the best in dealing with his illness.

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Newer and better forms of child abuse

Here's a multiple choice question:

Your father records nearly 400,000 hours of audio and video to document your first three years. He installs "11 omnidirectional fish-eye video cameras and 14 ceiling-mounted microphones to record all activity in his home." He "uses a 5-terabyte disk in his basement to store the data, then deposits it on a 1-petabyte disk" at his office.

Do you:

A) Hate your father for the rest of your life?

B) Spend years in therapy as an adult?

C) Blame this massive invasion of privacy on Bush and leak the plan to the New York Times?

D) All of the above?

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A spot of rain

I'm not a big fan of large numbers of diverse animals in small quarters, but I'm about ready to start building an ark. Over the past 48 hours or so, we've had lots of rain, with occasional torrential downpours and flooding. This morning's WaPo roundups are here and here.

Here's a sample:

By midnight last night, a total of 9.94 inches of rain had fallen at Reagan National Airport in the two days since midnight Saturday. That was believed to be the highest rainfall figure recorded there for any two consecutive calendar days. The 7.09 inches of rain recorded at the airport in the 24-hour period from 7 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. yesterday is second only to the 7.19 inches recorded when remnants of Hurricane Agnes passed through the region in June 1972.

Bob Reifenberger, 56, a furniture salesman, was caught in a downpour on Telegraph Road in Alexandria late Sunday. After driving off the exit ramp, he recalled yesterday, he encountered what he described as a "flash flood" -- a gush of water that forced him and people in as many as eight cars from their vehicles.

"My car just started to float away," he said, recounting by telephone how he climbed out his window. "I was hanging on to it. There were eight to 10 of us. We were stranded."
Here's a photo of a scene a dozen miles east of where I live.

My office downtown is closed. Here's a photo of a tunnel a few blocks away from it.

Meanwhile, the daily minyan goes on. In the midst of the downpours, we still have brave souls, some of whom aren't even saying kaddish, coming out to daven. But with the rain pounding on the roof of the shul, it's a little like the movie Alien, except that here, no one can hear you daven.

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Maryland Blogger Alliance expands its ideological scope

We have a new member of the Maryland Blogger Alliance, Crablaw, run by Bruce Godfrey, who describes himself as a registered libertarian and promises he's going to explain why he's big on some "big donkey" bloggers. We're very pleased to have you on board, Bruce.

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June 25, 2006

Norman Mineta chats with Larry King

Tonight, former Congressman Norman Mineta, now the Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation, is resigning after over five years with the Bush Administration.
Mr. Secretary, I want to ask you . . .

I'm not a secretary! A secretary types things and maybe files some papers. I'm the head of a major federal agency with tens of thousands of employees. I'm a presidential appointee. I'm the Honorable Norman Y. Mineta!


Call me "Mr. Honorable."

Uh, all right . . . Mr. Honorable . . . what would you say is your top achievement at the Department of Transportation?

I have many top achievements, Wolf.

Uh, it's Larry. Larry King. Not Wolf.

Larry. Wolf. Iceberg. Goldberg. Whatever.

Your top achievement?

My top achievement is that we have never used racial profiling. So not one Japanese-American has been put in an internment camp on my watch.

You don't mean Muslims? After September 11?

No, Wolf, I mean Japanese-Americans. F--- the Muslims!

"F--- the Muslims?" You can't say that s--- here, Mr. Honorable. This is live TV. You're gonna have those family-values nutballs climbing all over me like a bunch of cheap hookers. . . . But not like my second and fourth wives. Or, wait, was it my third and fifth wives? I forget.

I mean "F--- the Muslims." When Japanese-Americans were put in internment camps, Wolf, did one Muslim lift his hand in protest? You draw a cartoon with a bomb in some guy's towel, and these Muslims are burning down buildings. But Japanese-Americans in internment camps? Uh, uh.

That guy with a "towel" was the prophet Mohammed.

And I'm Maria of Roumania.

But racial profiling . . . some people say you do use racial profiling at the airports.

We have not profiled a single Japanese-American in my five years on the job, Wolf.

I was thinking of Muslims' being profiled. You know, because Muslims brought us the first World Trade Center attack, Khobar Towers, the USS Cole, 9/11. The guy who took flight training and wanted to know how to fly but not how to land.

"How to fly and not how to land"? I think you have some unresolved racial issues with Japanese-Americans, Wolf.

But . . .

And you know who I think really should be profiled, Wolf? It's Jewish guys, like you, in their 70s and 80s. Those guys are dangerous. Seriously.

Jewish guys in their . . . ?

Those guys carry a boatload of gas with them, if you know what I mean.

OK, we've run out of . . .

Do you know what it's like to spend six hours on a cross-country flight with a few of those guys - while they're slicing the old kosher cheese, if you catch my drift.

OK, now, we're . . .

The way the air is recirculated in planes these days, that could be deadlier than bird flu or ebola.

I'm sorry, Mr. Honorable, we're all out of time. Tomorrow, Angelina Jolie joins us to discuss her latest book on the pre-Socratic philosophers.

[UPDATE (6/29): Not a joke: When Mineta pilots his boat, "I imagine I'm a pirate," Norm said. "Of the Caribbean."]

For more photo comics, check the "Photo Comics" section of the sidebar.

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June 22, 2006

The examination

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June 20, 2006

Fish story

Maybe it's because I'm Jewish, but I tend to eat a lot of herring. The herring I eat is prepared in many different ways, including, of course, pickled, which is probably the best. Herring in cream sauce, on the other hand, is an abomination unto the Lord. If God had intended us to eat herring in cream sauce, He would not have made the herring flatulent.

Now, you'll excuse me for using the FL-word, but I'm making this statement based on a quotation from an article at Discovery News, in which the authors of a study recently presented to an Acoustical Society of America meeting in Rhode Island say the following about herring -- and I quote -- "Farting may save their lives." Just to prove this to you, let me quote the first three paragraphs of the article:

Norwegian killer whales slap their tails underwater to disorient and kill herring, which sometimes defend themselves from the assault by disappearing under the cover of their own bubbly flatulence, according to a new study.

The study is one of two papers presented at the recent Acoustical Society of America Meeting in Rhode Island that addressed some of the clever techniques whales employ to catch their dinner.

While whales often are successful, some herring escape. The study's authors perhaps say it best: "Farting may save their lives."
How does it save their lives? I'm glad you asked.

"The (herring) bubbles are released through the anal duct when the air expands as the fish ascend," explained Malene Simon, who worked on the research. "We do not know if the fish release air when staying at one depth as a reaction when meeting a predator. However, it is very likely that the bubble will confuse or scare the predator in such a way that the herring will have a better chance of escaping."
This is really quite remarkable, because that's not usually the way flatulence works. Typically, the only flatulent animals, other than cows, are the males of a species. They are also the only ones who belch at the table or make funny armpit noises.

So this is more what I imagined when I heard that herring can be flatulent:

Harry Herring: Pfffffffft.

Henrietta Herring: That's disgusting!

Harry Herring: It was the dog.

I'm actually very encouraged to learn that herring can use flatulence to reduce the risk from predators, and I'm wondering whether males of the human species could do the same. Try it the next time you encounter a grizzly bear.

As amazing as this story about herring may be, we have to remember that no herring is an island; flatulence must be a communal activity for herring if it is to be successful.
Simon, a researcher at the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, added, "This effect would probably be much less significant for one lonely fish than when it is a large school of fish. The air bubbles reflect sound and make it difficult (for the whales) to locate the fish with echolocation."
In other words, to survive, herring must engage in what might be called "synchronized flatulence." (Which is probably a lot harder than it sounds, unless, of course, the herring have been eating Mexican food.)

Let me leave you with the following thought: Give it a dozen years or so, use some political persuasion and a few Powerpoint presentations, and synchronized flatulence may well become the next new Olympic sport.

(via Fark)

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June 19, 2006

Think big!

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Not your mother's religious apparel

Oy, this reminds me of sixth grade. It's extremely immature -- even for Pillage Idiot.

A yarmulkebra. (Via Ace)

What's next? A tallis-slip? A tefillin-garterbelt?

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June 18, 2006

Murtha madness, Part 3

"REP. MURTHA: * * * So—and we don’t have to be right there. We can go to Okinawa. We, we don’t have—we can redeploy there almost instantly." (Quoted more fully here.)

Blackfive administers the smackdown to Congressman Murtha. (Click on image.)

UPDATE: "OooooooooKinawa..." Tom Maguire sets it to music.

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Alito concurs with Souter

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Funeral fun

This morning, my synagogue softball team played its first game in a double-elimination playoff. We lost the first game, and since "losers walk," we had to go to another field to play the next game with another losing team. We were already in a part of Montgomery County that we weren't all that familiar with, and the second game was way out there, even farther out than the first game. We huddled with the directions and then tried to follow each other in our cars as much as possible. At one point, I almost lost the guys in front of me.

Which reminded me of my father's funeral in January. (It is Father's Day today, after all.)

After the funeral, we all tried to follow the hearse to the cemetery. Most of us knew where the cemetery was, but not everyone. We had to drive through the downtown area of the town I grew up in, and with a procession numbering about a dozen cars, not everyone had the guts to follow through red lights. I did, but I kept checking my rear view mirror to see who was going to follow.

Eventually, we made it to the cemetery. We stopped at the administrative office near the gate for about five minutes. My mother was in the car in front of mine, driven by my brother-in-law, and she and one of my sisters got out of the car and walked back to speak to the people in the car behind mine. For some reason, when things had been settled at the administrative office, my brother-in-law took off -- without my mother and sister, who seemed totally unconcerned. I saw them in my rear view mirror and waited for them to get into the car behind me. Only they didn't get in. They stood outside the car and continued to talk to the people in the car.

After a minute or so, I decided I'd better move on. They'd have to take care of themselves. But by this time, I had lost my brother-in-law's car. "No problem," I thought. "How hard can it be to find a hearse and four other cars in a cemetery?" Well, I took this turn and that, but they were nowhere to be seen. And now I was getting nervous. We drove around for awhile, through the Chinese and Korean sections of the cemetery, looking for some Jewish names. After a few minutes of near panic, we saw my cousin driving toward us. We looked up, and there was everyone else.

Well, not exactly everyone. My sister and mother were still not there. We got one of the funeral people to call down to the administrative office, and after a few more minutes, my mother and sister arrived. Ready to go, right? Not quite. Two of my other sisters were not even at the cemetery yet. They had stayed at the shul looking for my mother, who had already left with someone else. And now they were lost between the shul and the cemetery. The funeral guy got on the phone with them and over a period of what must have been at least 10 or 15 minutes slowly guided them to the cemetery.

About a half hour after we were supposed to begin the burial, we finally got started.

It really must be something about my family. Because when my maternal grandmother was buried in 1981 at that same cemetery, we had another amusing incident.

I was driving my mother in the lead car behind the hearse, and when we got to the cemetery, which is on a narrow, winding, two-lane road, the hearse driver, instead of turning into the cemetery entrance, drove past the entrance on the road and stopped the hearse. He got out of the car, walked to our driver's window, and said to me, "They told me to drive past the gate and stop." He walked on toward the cemetery, and I turned to my mother and said, "What a total moron! They meant drive into the cemetery past the gate and stop." Sure enough, that's what they told him at the cemetery. He came back, without the slightest emotion on his face, to his hearse. But now he had a problem. The road was too narrow for him to turn around, and there were about a dozen cars behind him. So he pulled forward, veered right into the dirt parking lot of a roadside restaurant, and made a loop, turning left on the road back down to the cemetery. All of the dozen or so cars behind him followed through the parking lot, looping back down the road.

I wish I had the words to describe the expressions on the faces of a family standing next to its car in that parking lot as a hearse and a dozen cars pulled around them and back onto the road. But I knew that if my grandmother could have seen it, she would have enjoyed it no end.

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Abu Musab al-Zarqawi interviews Ann Coulter

Because you can never have too much of a good thing, we now go where Jeff Goldstein is too sane to go: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi interviews Ann Coulter.


Ann Coulter:


Ann Coulter:


Ann Coulter:


Ann Coulter:


Ann Coulter:


Ann Coulter:


Ann Coulter:


Ann Coulter:


Ann Coulter: Because, you know, I'll bet you're wishing, right about now, that we had invaded your countries, killed your leaders, and converted you to Christianity.


Ann Coulter: As you've probably figured out by now, a little too late, Jesus is your Lord.


Ann Coulter: He's also the Lord of that fat Jewish girl.


Ann Coulter:


Ann Coulter:

Click here to read more . . .

June 16, 2006


June 16, Bloomsday.

Today's Ulysses tidbit: Moses Dlugacz, pork butcher.

Another Triestine name which would reappear in Ulysses was that of Moses Dlugacz, Joyce's student from 1912 to 1915. Dlugacz, a cashier with the Cunard Line in Trieste, was an ardent Zionist who was born on 12 January 1884 in Galizia, ordained rabbi when he was fifteen, and was was well-known for his efforts to promote the teaching of Hebrew. During the First World War Dlugacz worked in Trieste as a provisions merchant in a small shop on via Torrebianca, which supplied cheese and meat to the Austrian army fighting along the Isonzo river near Trieste, a fact, this, which induced Joyce to rather roguishly have him appear in Ulysses as the "ferret eyed pork butcher" of Upper Dorset Street, the only shopkeeper in the book who is not listed in Dublin's Thorn's Directory. Significantly, Dlugacz keeps advertisements in his shop for the model farm at Kinnereth, and Molly mentions him as that "queerlookingman in the porkbutchers" who "is a great rogue"(U 18.911-912).

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June 15, 2006

Naked news considers marriage

"Naked News," as regular readers know, is an occasional feature of Pillage Idiot and is my cheap attempt at increasing site traffic, even though these visitors almost never return. I've been debating with myself recently whether this cheap trick is worth the candle, but I couldn't resist this one story, for which I'm indebted to Ace.

Dateline: Ann Arbor, Michigan, home of the University of Michigan and about 100,000 other crunchy leftists.

You have to love a story that starts like this:

A marriage-minded man ran naked through his neighborhood, trying to show his hesitant girlfriend that taking risks is important. He got more than he bargained for when he ended up being chased and shot at.
"Wait," you're thinking. "If I wanted to persuade my girlfriend to marry me, that's exactly what I'd do!" Right? Not me. I waited until after we were married to try that.

But if you can't wait, you can't wait. Here's how the story unfolds:
The couple were discussing marriage early Wednesday when the woman said she wasn't sure if she was ready, according to Ann Arbor police reports. The man responded that taking risks is an important part of life and, to prove his point, jumped out of a first-floor window and ran naked across the street.

Before he could return, he spotted a couple walking and hid in some bushes to avoid them. A 28-year-old man noticed the bushes rustling and bare feet underneath, then drew a .40-caliber handgun and ordered the naked man out, police said.

The naked suitor ran away, but the armed man gave chase and threatened to shoot, police said. The gunman fired a shot and the naked man fell to the ground, suffering minor injuries.

A resident called police, who arrested the gunman on charges of aggravated assault and carrying a concealed weapon. He was taken to the Washtenaw County jail but released following further investigation, police Sgt. Patrick Hughes told The Associated Press.

The naked man was not arrested and didn't want to pursue charges, Hughes said.
We can all smile at this man's difficulties, but if you were the girlfriend, wouldn't you leap at the chance to marry this man? Hmmm. Maybe you would leap out the window first, preferably with your clothes on.

Click here to read more . . .

So I'm, like, . . . .

I have the pleasure of working in an office in which my colleagues are highly credentialed, well educated, and intelligent lawyers. But I once heard a colleague telling a story in which she said, "So I'm, like, hel-LO!" I've heard this form of "like" from younger people, but my colleague was around 40 at the time. And it surprised me to hear her speaking like that.

With my kids, all bets are off. They don't abuse this form of "like" -- the verbal semi-quotation mark -- but they sometimes abuse the other form of "like" -- the placeholder. "My friend came over, and we were, like, sitting around and he had this, like, expensive watch." There are many ways to deal with this. In our family, for example, my 14-year-old son imitates his older siblings whenever they use "like" -- and that's, like, pretty effective.

Eugene Volokh raises the question today what is to be done with law students who use such locutions in class, and he provokes an interesting discussion in the comments.

I admit, I have my own tics, but yours are really annoying, so please stop it right now. And, by the way, if I ever say, "So I'm, like, hel-LO!" -- you have my permission to shoot me.

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More frontiers in plastic surgery

I'm sorry I can't serve you another heaping plate of plastic surgery in highly intimate female regions, specifically Beverly Hills, California, but today's New York Times brings us the next best thing: removal of fat from new and sometimes interesting places: "Do My Knees Look Fat to You?"

LOVE handles, saddlebags, turkey wattle. Self-conscious women have been trying to reduce those body areas for years. But now, with more efficient diets and fitness routines, women are turning to more obscure anatomical zones. The newest worries? "Bra fat" and "back fat."
Dana Conte, a Manhattan bartender suffered from "back fat." And here, "suffering" is defined as being whistled at on the street but having your mother pull the back of your shirt down. Because it couldn't have been simply the fact that mothers sometimes don't like their daughters to display too much skin, fat or not; it had to be the fat. So Ms. Conte had two liposuction surgeries. Why two? Well, why not?
Last August, she had liposuction on her lower back around her waistline, and in January, she had liposuction again, this time on her mid- and upper-back to eliminate "bra fat," bulges that can occur when "your bra pushes lumps of fat down your back and up over the bra fastening and to the sides right near your arms," Ms. Conte said. The total fee for both procedures, $10,000, was well worth it, she said.
The article suggest that liposuction "has become a tool to enhance the near-perfect body parts of the already fit." In fact, "selective or micro liposuction" is used "to remove an ounce or three of fat from ankles, knees, chins, necks, backs and upper arms, according to some prominent plastic surgeons and dermatologists." And a doctor who does the procedure puts it well:
"Some of them are perfect 10's who want to be 10½'s," said Dr. Howard D. Sobel, a dermatologist in Manhattan whose liposuction patients have included models and personal trainers. "These patients' 'before' pictures are what patients in the past wished their 'after' pictures looked like."
And, as you might expect in this designer bodywork, each procedure has a nickname:
Patients have developed their own nicknames for these obscure fat deposits. To help doctors understand the exact locations their patients are describing, the journal Dermatologic Surgery recently published an article titled "Lexicon of Areas Amenable to Liposuction." According to the article, patients are now asking for liposuction of the "buffalo hump" (upper back), the "wings" (bulges around the bra area), the "doughnut" (around the belly button), the "banana fold" (below the buttocks), the "piano legs" (calves) and the "chubb."

"Chubb is a Southern term for the kneecap area," said one of the article's authors, Dr. William P. Coleman III, a clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans. He has not yet heard a colloquialism for ankle fat.
What does the future hold? Well, here's something to think about: One doctors says, "Maybe liposuction will become like a gym membership where you pay a doctor $10,000 for the year and you can have as much surgery as you want."

On the plus side, I expect to have lots of news stories to write about.

UPDATE (6/16): PrawfsBlawg raises some legal questions, which are actually too serious to be interesting: "Query: what if a patient just asked a doctor to perform surgery, with absolutely no effect on their appearance? Would it be legally permitted for the doctor simply to take the money, make the incision, take out, say, a gram of fat? Is this purely a matter of contract? Or should legal standards prohibit such a transaction?"

What I want to know is, what happens if a guy gets plastic surgery and ends up with a hairy hand?

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June 14, 2006

"That's Sicilian"

President Bush responds to a question about the timing and secrecy of his recent trip to Baghdad: "I couldn't care less."

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Now with more nudity seekers

When your blog is called "Pillage Idiot," it turns out -- just from the way search engines work -- that you get a lot of visitors who use the search term "idiot." I've had many visitors arriving based on searches for "idiot bush" or "al gore is an idiot" or "sheehan idiot."

When you have posts about Jewish things, you get visitors searching for "X jewish" (where X is anyone famous you may have mentioned at one point: Ben Bernanke, Josh Bolten, Gen. Hayden, George Bush, and even George Washington.

What's interesting, though, is that when you run an occasional series called "Naked News," discussing news stories involving naked people, in a cheap attempt (as I usually say) to increase site traffic, you end up with a heck of a lot of hits from searches for "naked news." And my post is only 12th on Google for that search, last time I looked, which means that you folks seeking naked news must be pretty persistent, pretty diligent, to reach Pillage Idiot.

And now, my referral tracking at, which I set up last August, shows that "naked" has recently outpaced "idiot" as the top search term. "Nude" is in 10th place. ("Jewish" is 9th; "jew" is 19th.)

In a way, this is sad. My repeated comment about increasing site traffic with posts about naked news is a joke, because hardly any of these visitors ever come back.

I think the problem is that I don't have photos to accompany the posts.

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June 13, 2006

Another conspiracy

Snoopy The Goon confesses to another conspiracy, which is denounced at this Iranian site: "Zionist Rabbis Torture Inmates at Guantanamo." It's like Winston Smith and the rats.

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June 12, 2006

"Not-so-subtle" flood control design

More of last week's news . . .

This really, really can't be true about the Des Moines flood control system. Check the aerial photo on the top left of the page.

(via Fark)

UPDATE (6/13): Just to make things easier, here's the aerial photo:

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King's Bishop to Queen 3, Punches Knight

Checking up on last week's news . . . .

In a continuing effort to prove to the world that chess masters are not a bunch of bespectacled geeky guys who can't get a date, we now have Gormallygate (with photos, for those of you who came here just for the photos). [UPDATE: Now that Blogger's photo upload seems to work again, I'm including the photo here.]

There's making moves in chess and making moves in night clubs - and you wouldn't think the two would involve the same players.

Think again. To the staid world of chess comes ... Gormallygate.

And at the centre of it is teenage Australian chess champion Arianne Caoili, dubbed "the Anna Kournikova of chess".

British chess grandmaster Danny Gormally had reportedly been seeing and emailing her.

But when he saw her dancing with the world's No. 3 player, Armenia's Levon Aronian, in a Turin nightclub during the World Chess Olympiad he made a move with his fist.
Arianne's coach, Graeme Gardiner, describes the background to this fight:
The trio were at the Bermuda party, which is a regular event at the World Chess Olympiad.

"[The Bermuda party] is always organised by the Bermuda team because they are one of the world's worst teams but they run the best party," said Graeme Gardiner, a former Australian Chess Federation president who has coached Arianne since she was five years old.

"She's a 19-year-old, very attractive girl. She's probably got the guys queuing up for her. As far as I'm aware in this incident she was an innocent party in the sense that she was merely having a dance at the Bermuda Party."

Gormally subsequently left the Olympiad early of his own volition.

Now he might face action from the game's ruling body for the incident, which has sparked a feud between the English and Armenian teams.
So with these chess guys getting violent, do you think we'd have a kiss-and-make-up ending? Do you think there'd at least be a West Side Story ending? Can't we all just get along? Not exactly; there was more fighting to come. But the ending was at least amusing.
Gormally and Beardsworth apologised to the Armenian delegation and their star player the morning after the incident but, while the apologies were being accepted, some of Aronian's teammates waded in with their fists.

Once they were told that Gormally had already said sorry, the Armenians apologised for their retaliatory attack.

"It was all very friendly," Mr Beardsworth said.
All very friendly? Well, as they say, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?"

Click here to read more . . .

June 11, 2006

What's that smell?

Today's topic is body odor.

Not yours personally, of course. You personally smell like one of those air fresheners that taxi drivers use to cover up their smell. So you personally have nothing to worry about, unless you happen to work with taxi passengers, who, in my experience, absolutely despise those horrid air freshener thingies.

Anyway, today's topic is what you should do if you work in an office and there's a pungent body aroma wafting over your cubicle wall. I wouldn't have raised this issue at all if it weren't for the fact that the New York Times Sunday Business section raised it first. To wit:

Q. One of your co-workers often has an unpleasant smell. Before you break out the air freshener, is there a polite way to let him know that the odor bothers you?
Spoiler alert: The answer is that, if you are a reader of the New York Times, you send an angry letter to the boss denouncing your co-worker, because he (or she) is obviously a Republican and quite possibly a Christian. And then, you write a letter to "The Ethicist," a repugnant fellow who writes a column for the ethically challenged who can't turn to religion for moral questions (see, for example, here), and you ask him whether it was ethical of you to pilfer an air freshener from your taxi while the driver was taking your luggage out of the trunk so you could reduce the stench of your co-worker.

OK, so I lied. That's not the answer. As you may have suspected, given that this is the New York Times, the answer is not simple.

First, "many people are unaware of their own odor." More important, and this is really a quotation from a medical researcher, "Body odor can be a very personal and sensitive subject." That's the kind of opinion that companies pay big money for.

Second, "dealing with the situation may not be easy." Thank you very much for that advice. The article quotes a woman who once had to deal with a co-worker who rode his bike into work in the morning and changed into business clothes without showering. She and other workers joked about it but never told the man. Because they were tactful? Because he was a serial killer? No, "because he was a senior manager." Good advice. Don't tell company executives that they smell like crap.

Third, "if a co-worker's scent interferes with your ability to concentrate, you're entitled to speak up." But be nice. And get to the point; don't beat around the bush. Don't walk into his office or cubicle holding your nose. Instead, ask him politely whether it's possible that a dead rat is living in his office. When he says no, you reply, "Well, process of elimination means it's you."

Fourth, avoid situations that could "escalate into a shouting match or physical altercation." In the previous example, you should bring along a couple of street toughs so the smelly co-worker doesn't start anything with you.

Fifth, remember to celebrate diversity. The articles quotes a labor lawyer -- and I swear I'm not making this up -- as saying, "With so many diverse cultures in the workplace today, if you have something to say about body odor, do it in a way that doesn't suggest anything other than that this person needs to take a bath."

Sixth, remember that companies can fire someone who smells sufficiently bad, but it's got to be something like a 7.2 on the Richter scale. And someone with body odor might have a claim under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This is true. "If an employee can prove that his odor stems from a medical condition or that he is allergic to deodorant, for example, he would probably receive special consideration," an employment lawyer said.

Finally, don't forget that YOU YOU YOU might be the smelly one. As Bertolt Brecht put it, "der Furz hat keine Nase." (Roughly translated, "a fart has no nose.") And this is the altogether fitting way in which the article concludes, by suggesting deodorant "if you choose":
Q. How do you know that you're not the one offending noses?

A. You can take certain obvious precautions, of course. Bathe regularly and, if you choose, use deodorant. If you feel that you must wear cologne or perfume, do so in moderation. Joy Weaver, author of "How to Be Socially Savvy in All Situations" (Brown, 2005), says the easiest way to know whether your personal scent is disrupting to colleagues is to ask them. Just make sure you're prepared for the answer.
Which I am going to do by asking my readers who have made it all the way through this post: Does this blog stink?

Or what?

Unfortunately not related: An article about Hillary called "The Ascent of a Woman," which I read as "The Scent of a Woman."

Click here to read more . . .

June 10, 2006

Maryland Blogger Alliance expands again

Michael, the proprietor of monoblogue in Salisbury, MD, has agreed to join the Maryland Blogger Alliance based on assurances from Soccer Dad that the Alliance is "a collection of blogs with a logo." This is true -- except that we don't have a logo, only a flag, which is OK, but it's not a logo. Logo or not, go check out monoblogue.

Our previous newest member, Aaron, of The Not So Free State, has helpfully provided some code to automate the process of adding new blogs to the Alliance. My thanks to him.

Click here to read more . . .

June 09, 2006

NY Post attempts a photo comic

It isn't very good, but you still have to give the New York Post credit for trying -- on the front page, yet.

[Who are you to say? The Post has about a gazillion times your readership. -- Ed.]

Click here to read more . . .

June 08, 2006

EXCLUSIVE: Pillage Idiot interviews the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi


Pillage Idiot has had an exclusive interview with the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The official transcript follows:

PI: Thank you for taking the time to come by my blog, Mr. al-Zarqawi. Or may I call you Al?


PI: You've had a very busy, very exciting day, and I'm glad you can fit me into your schedule.


PI: Let me start by trying to understand what it was like for you. You were holed up in that safe house up there in Hibhib meeting with your terrorist thug friends. What were you discussing just before the bomb hit?


PI: No, I'm serious. Surely, you weren't debating olives vs. green pepper vs. onions and extra cheese, right?


PI: But I thought you didn't eat pepperoni. And yes, I won't call you Shirley. So tell me. As I understand it, first thing was a commotion outside?


PI: And then what happened?


PI: What did it sound like? I mean, you had American aircraft flying overhead. And then the bombs falling.


PI: Uh, no, I don't know what a lion sounds like when you squeeze its testicles.


PI: No, I haven't ever done that myself. And I really don't believe you have, either.


PI: So you have this loud screaming noise and then what? When did you realize it was an American attack on you?


PI: Look, I don't think you could really see your ass flying up into the air. It was dead of night, wasn't it?


PI: Let me read you something: "The house, and all inside it, was wiped out. However, Jordanian sources last night said Zarqawi did not die instantly. Though mortally wounded, he was alive when Iraqi and US troops arrived on the scene. His brutal reign ended 10 minutes after the bombs fell." Can you comment on this?


PI: What were you thinking about at that time?


PI: Well, personally, I'm not sure which is worse -- seeing half my abdomen shooting upward at about two-thirds the speed of light or hallucinating that Donald Rumsfeld was making me bend over for him. You tell me.


PI: I have to say that for a guy who films videos showing off heavy-duty guns and even films beheadings and other atrocities, you're awfully damn whiny about this little inconvenience to you.


PI: Now, let's step back for a minute. We're interested in your operational structure. How closely did you communicate with Osama bin Laden?


PI: The last time was when?


PI: After Tora Bora? Wow, maybe outsourcing wasn't such a bad idea after all.


PI: Sure, you think you'll be able to talk to him again soon, but what good would that do you?


PI: I see our time has run out. I'd like to thank you again for appearing on this blog. But I have one last question. A lot of us have been wondering. That business about 72 virgins. That's a lie, isn't it?


PI: Oh, yeah? Well, same to you, buddy.

UPDATE: The video and the remix (courtesy of Allah).

UPDATE (6/9): Jeff Goldstein got a much better interview out of the bastard. Damn!

Click here to read more . . .

June 07, 2006

The medio-passive in Iraq

I often tell my kids that what makes English such a wonderful language is the medio-passive. An ordinary passive is something like this: "The ball was kicked down the street by the boy." The medio-passive removes the agent completely, like this: "The water spilled." I'm not a grammarian, but I think "The ball was kicked" also counts as medio-passive, because there's no agent.

Medio-passive is a perfect grammatical construction for young kids. Father: "Why is all that milk on the floor?" Kid: "It spilled." Notice -- the kid didn't spill it; it spilled. No one did it. It just happened.

It's also a perfect grammatical construction for ideologues who are unwilling to assess blame to people they view as blameless or give credit to people they despise. James Taranto has an excellent example of this today in Best of the Web Today, although, regrettably, he doesn't cite the medio-passive:

Don't Know Much About History

Here's some good news from Iraq, reported by Scientific American:

In the 1990s the Garden of Eden was destroyed. The fertile wetlands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were diked and drained, turning most of 15,000 square kilometers of marsh to desert. By the year 2000, less than 10 percent of that swampland--nearly twice as big as Florida's Everglades--remained. But reflooding of some areas since 2003 has produced what some scientists are calling the "miracle of the Mesopotamian marshes"--a return of plants, aquatic life and even rare birds to their ancestral home.
We read through the piece but we couldn't figure out who diked and drained the fertile wetlands, or what might have happened in 2003 that made their restoration possible. Scientific American ought to look into this; we have a hunch we're missing out on some fascinating history.

Taranto is mocking the way the article says that "fertile wetlands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers were diked and drained," without saying who diked and drained them. If it had mentioned Saddam Hussein, it might have shown that he was morally culpable. So better not to mention that. Use the medio-passive.

Similarly, the article speaks of "reflooding" in 2003 that occurred without an agent. An Act of God? No, but you can't give credit to the President whose war brought this about.

The dam broke. The water spilled. The wetlands flooded. Crops grew. People fluorished.

All with no agent. Because of the medio-passive.

Click here to read more . . .

Yet another new member of the Maryland Blogger Alliance

We'd like to welcome The Not So Free State to the Maryland Blogger Alliance. In the comments to Free State Comment's post on the Maryland blogosphere, Aaron Brazell, who runs TNSFS, describes himself as paleo-con, which means that the Alliance is mature enough at the advance membership of six to have differences of opinion. I think that's a good thing.

In a post at TNSFS, Aaron suggests that I think he's a leftist. Actually, the political differences I was thinking of were between those of us who lean neo-con and paleo-cons like him. Go to his platform, and you'll see some issues on which he and I disagree.

But, you know what, even if he were a leftist, he'd be welcome here, as are Free State Comment and all its Maryland friends on the Left.

Click here to read more . . .

June 06, 2006

What goes down must come up

AbbaGav, our go-to man on vomit.

Speaking of which, the post at Free State Comment mapping the Maryland blogosphere was cross-posted at Daily Kos, which I discovered when I got a visitor from the site today. Coincidence? Hardly. I've never been mentioned at Daily Kos, and I expect I never will be again. (Yes, I admit the "speaking of which" was a cheap shot, and I'm very ashamed of it.)

Click here to read more . . .

June 05, 2006

It's a zoo out there

Is there something in the drinking water? Or is it just that if you drink while on all fours, you may have some issues?

Exhibit A: A depressed South Korean man goes to the zoo and climbs into the pen of rhinos "known for having a mean streak." He was so upset at not being able to find a job that he failed to look for more docile rhinos. Because, as we all know, rhinos are a particularly docile animal. (Not.)

Exhibit B: A man at a Kiev zoo, apparently seeking to re-enact the biblical story of Daniel, climbs down a rope into the lions' enclosure, shouting that "God will save me, if he exists." God says, "I knew Daniel. Daniel was a friend of mine. And, son, you're no Daniel." The article reports: "A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery."

Here's a tip to future Daniels: Don't expect divine salvation by trumpeting your agnosticism. It usually works better with deep faith in God. Not that I'm recommending that test, either.

Interestingly enough, the Russian version of the story leaves out the part about God. On the other hand, the Washington Post's AP story does mention God, but it implies that the man was poor, undereducated, and easily led.

Next up, The Nation magazine examines why the lions hate us.

UPDATE: It goes without saying that you can get cuddly with wild animals outside the zoo, as well, as Instapundit points out. (hat tip: Soccer Dad)

Click here to read more . . .

Call from a telemarketer

George -- er, Jack -- takes a call from a telemarketer. Fortunately, a court stenographer was there to record the conversation.

Click here to read more . . .

June 04, 2006

Putting the Maryland Blogger Alliance on the map

I would like to welcome The Sun Lies as the newest member of the Maryland Blogger Alliance. TSL focuses on misreporting in the Baltimore Sun. Please check it out. (MBA membership list will be updated shortly.)

TSL found us through a post on Free State Comment, a lefty (*cough* progressive) blog in Maryland, whose proprietors have "mapped" the bloggers in the state.

I want to point out that TSL earned FSC's coveted "sort of like media matters for cave-dwellers" endorsement. (Personal to Free State Comment: Some of us haven't even discovered caves yet.) Pillage Idiot was mentioned in the over-inclusive and somewhat vague category of "some are painful to read, and others are funny, and some are interesting on occasion."

I should point out here for the benefit of the left wing of the Maryland blogosphere that the Maryland Blogger Alliance does not discriminate on the basis of political orientation. Sure, we're a little one-sided at the moment, but then again, we have only five members. If you don't mind "sullying" yourself by association, and if you're generally SFW, you are welcome to join us. Please e-mail me at pillageidiot -at- hotmail -dot- com.

Click here to read more . . .

June 01, 2006

Is that John or Thurgood?

The caption accompanying this photo speaks of a "Court Marshall" panel, which raises the question which Marshall they're referring to. (Click on photo for large image.)

Click here to read more . . .

fee simple: No Photos Allowed - No Jacket Required

Posted by Fee Simple.

Life Site News reports that Germany has banned all journalists from photographing or videotaping within the city's drive-in brothel zone, threatening prosecution for failure to heed the warning.

* * *

SKF spokeswoman Anne Rossbach referred to the area as a "social project", saying it was not a tourist scheme. The fenced-off compound contains garage-type structures known as "performance boxes", where clients can drive in and meet waiting prostitutes. The city of Cologne funds the project with some 480,000 Euros per year.

Just prior to the media ban, prostitutes were complaining about business interruptions and lost clients due to the media presence.
* * *

Let's see if I can understand the quote logic unquote of the Cologne city authorities.

The brothel zone isn't a public area so photography of sex there is prohibited but the area is open to everyone who wants to have sex as long as they bring a car and leave their camera at home.

This story also raises a few questions:

1) Under the Supreme Court's Kelo decision, could private property in America be seized under eminent domain for the public purpose of a Cologne-type "performance zone"?

2) If people have to be in cars while having sex in such a zone, would Department of Transportation rules on High Occupancy Vehicles apply?

3) If people are being "serviced" while their cars are in "garages" would Jiffy Lube be a good corporate sponsor of such zones?

4) Why does sex with prostitutes have to be subsidized with 480,000 Euros? Without the governmental subsidy is there a risk that prostitute-sex will somehow disappear? Would that be a bad thing?

5) If people want to have sex with prostitutes in cars, but are without a car (and obviously without sex as well or this whole issue would be irrelevant) will the Cologne city government also provide subsided cars? If so, then more corporate sponsors could be lined up from among the rental car companies: "Sex so good it Hertz"; "Avis: We Try Harder."

Click here to read more . . .

Maryland meshugas July to Sept. 2006


Marijuana gumballs

Michael Steele's first two choices

Found on the street in Baltimore

Prissy little miss

The cucumber people get a new name

Maryland Blogger Alliance member makes it big

Click here to read more . . .