Saturday, June 24, 2006

World Cup Update

Friday 23 June

The final day of the preliminary rounds...

Ukraine 1 Tunisia 0

Andre Schevchenko's penalty kick in the 70th minute proved the difference in this game. Schevchenko was pushed to the pitch in the penalty box by Karim Haggui, which resulted in the PK goal. Tunisia's hopes for the runner up spot in Group H were shattered at the half, as Zied Jaziri was sent off with his second yellow card of the match and Tunisia played with ten men. Ukraine move on to play in the elimination tourney.

Spain 1 Saudi Arabia 0

Spain swept the preliminary round with victories over all three of its groupmates, beating a disheartend Saudi team with a goal off a header by Juanito. The score would have been far worse if not for the Saudi goalie, who literally nearly stood on his head to make saves.

France 2 Togo 0

France was in a pickle in this match. A win and a Korean loss would advance them to the next round, as would a win by two goals, and they were playing without legendary Zinedine Zidane. Goals by Patrick Viera (56th minute) and nascent French leader Thierry Henry (61st) put the game out of reach for Togo.

Switzerland 1 Korea 0

Switzerland sat in the driver's seat in this game. A draw would advance them to the next round. Korea needed a win and a French loss to advance. Phillipe Senderos scored a header in the 23rd minute to give Switzerland the lead. Senderos paid a price as blood streamed off his face when his head banged into a Korean defender's head on the follow-through. In the 77th minute, Alexander Frei broke through the Korean defense to slip a shot past keeper Jae Woon Lee.

Spain will face France in what ought to be a boisterous and raucous game. Ukraine will face Switzerland.
Saturday 24 June

And so, the elimination tournament begins. Win, or go home.

Germany 2 Sweden 0

The Swedish defense was like buttah...

...unfortunately, Germany brought a hot knife with them, and practically took shots on goal at will. Two early goals by Lazlo Podolsky (4th and 12th minutes) were the difference in this game.

Argentina 2 Mexico 1

Rafael Marquez of Mexico opened the scoring in the 8th minute on a set piece off a free kick from Pavel Pardo who flips it to Jose Castro who flicks it to Marquez alone at the right post. Argentina's Hernan Crespo answers just two minutes later as Juan Riquelme slaps a cross to Crespo who knocks it home. The second game of the second round was the first to go to golden time, with the Golden Goal scored by Maxi Rodriguez in the 98th minute of the match, taking a cross off his chest, settling it down and slamming it past keeper Oswaldo Sanchez. Argentina then withstood a 22 minute onslaught by the valiant Mexican side, but held on.

FOX News' Attempts To Be Fair And Balanced

If Cheney or Bush were only taken apart the way this loon from the Westborough Baptist Church was taken apart, we might stand a passing chance at being informed. As it stands, this was a softball tossed to Barry Bonds, a steak thrown in the lion's cage. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing:
The Westborough Baptist Church Loonie

Friday, June 23, 2006

An Appreciation Of An Humourist

I was saddened to read that Art Buchwald is on his last legs, or rather, leg, as his kidneys have been slowly failing, the doctors are unable to stop this and he has refused dialysis treatment.

Art Buchwald, resident humourist for the Washington Post, is a legend to me, and informs a lot of my comedic style. Sometimes I'll find myself writing a particularly dry piece of wit and satire, and think to myself, "I'm ripping off Buchwald."

I wouldn't be the first person to try. However, the man is still as feisty as any kid from Queens:
Humorist Art Buchwald was supposed to be dead by now. His doctors told him in January that his kidneys were failing, but he chose not to endure dialysis and moved into a Washington hospice to await death. To his surprise, it hasn't come yet. TIME's Elaine Shannon visited Buchwald, 80, at the hospice, where they chatted about his forthcoming book, whom he wants to meet in heaven (Judas Iscariot) and his failure to get on Richard Nixon's enemies list.

You're going to Martha's Vineyard on July 1. What are you going to do there?

I'm going to live. Back in February I lost my leg--that had nothing to do with my kidney. After I lost my leg, I was very depressed. I'd taken dialysis about 12 times, and I said, "I'm not going to do it anymore." Because of my decision to be in a hospice, all my friends came here to see me. I've had everybody--the French ambassador, Ethel Kennedy, Ben Bradlee--come to say goodbye. You had to take a ticket like in a shopping center because there were so many people coming in. But as time went on, they kept saying, "Wait a minute. Why are you still here?" They didn't say it in a mean way. They were delighted that I was going to be with them for a while. Now I have a new leg. I have a life. I have a book I hope to finish soon. It's called Too Soon to Say Goodbye. I didn't know dying was this much fun.

What do you have to say to your doctors about the limits of medicine?

I have nothing to say to them, and they have nothing to say to me. The kidney is working, obviously. They didn't expect it to, because when you have a real kidney problem and don't take dialysis, you're going to die. And I chose not to.

I was thinking of the famous line "Dying is easy. Comedy is hard." My line is "Dying is easy. Parking is hard." Once I made up my mind, I was at peace with myself, and it became kind of funny. That's what my book's about.

Have there been times in your life when humor didn't seem like enough to get you through?

Yeah. You wouldn't be a decent person if you didn't feel that way. John F. Kennedy's assassination was a big blow to me. There were times in World War II when I was very frightened. I was in the Marine Corps. I was 18, 19 years old. You'd be a fool if you weren't scared. There have been a lot of parts of my life that I didn't turn into a joke.

And more recently?

Yes--I lost my wife. I lost my wife.

Do you have any religious belief?

Yes. I believe there is a God, but he's not the one all the religions claim. The Christian religion, the Jewish religion, the Muslim religion--if you believe in their God, other people will say you're an infidel. There's a God out there, but not the one that causes all the trouble in the world. The people who fight all the wars now--not just Iraq but all over--believe that their God told them to.

Which presidency have you found to be the richest vein for a humorist?

Nixon. But one of the things I have to live with is that I never made Nixon's enemies list. All my buddies made fun of me. My buddies made it, and I didn't. And my standing as a serious journalist in this town went way down. Once, I ran into one of the big shots and complained, and that person said, "You weren't important enough." That was a body blow.

And the Bush Administration?

It's a very rich vein. It's like discovering gold. The people around [Bush]--Rove, Cheney and the rest of the Administration--they lie to you. Unfortunately, it's scarier if they don't think they're lying. I use that kind of stuff for satire. I don't like to preach because that's not what people are paying me for.

I read your column about a game you play in which you name five people you want to meet in heaven. Yours are Ava Gardner, Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Rita Hayworth--I understand those. But Judas?

People said, "Why Judas?" I want to ask him if he really was a buddy of Jesus and whether he was responsible for Jesus dying and coming back. That would make him a good guy instead of a bad guy.

Does the game include people you'd like to avoid in heaven?

Yeah. Those are very personal I didn't want people like Adolf Hitler. So one of mine was the gal who took a parking place from me at the shopping center and then laughed at me.
Some Buchwald quotations:
A bad liver is to a Frenchman what a nervous breakdown is to an American. Everyone has had one and everyone wants to talk about it.

Every time you think television has hit its lowest ebb, a new program comes along to make you wonder where you thought the ebb was.

Have you ever seen a candidate talking to a rich person on television?

I always wanted to get into politics, but I was never light enough to make the team.

I worship the quicksand he walks in.

Just when you think there's nothing to write about, Nixon says, "I am not a crook." Jimmy Carter says, "I have lusted after women in my heart." President Reagan says, "I have just taken a urinalysis test, and I am not on dope."

People are broad-minded. They'll accept the fact that a person can be an alcoholic, a dope fiend, a wife beater and even a newspaperman, but if a man doesn't drive, there's something wrong with him.

Television has a real problem. They have no page two.

Tax reform is taking the taxes off things that have been taxed in the past and putting taxes on things that haven't been taxed before.

The buffalo isn't as dangerous as everyone makes him out to be. Statistics prove that in the United States more Americans are killed in automobile accidents than are killed by buffalo.

The powder is mixed with water and tastes exactly like powder mixed with water.

You can't make up anything anymore. The world itself is a satire. All you're doing is recording it.

Whether it's the best of times or the worst of times, it's the only time we've got.
A recent column by Buchwald, that to me demonstrates the best of his work:
By Art Buchwald

Everyone took what he or she wanted out of the president's State of the Union speech. My ears pricked up when he talked about steroids. He was obviously against them. How, I wondered, did steroids get into the president's speech?

Here's one version: The president was reading the sports pages about all the drugs that athletes are using. It suddenly dawned on him that there was no mention of steroids in his State of the Union speech. He called in his writers and said, "Why is there no mention of steroids in my speech?"

"We were saving it for the opening of the summer Olympics."

"I want to mention it now, before the Democrats do."

A speechwriter said, "If we talk about steroids, people will forget about the unemployment figures."

Another writer said, "Why don't you say, 'When I was governor of Texas I was a 140-pound weakling. Everyone was pushing me around. Then I started using steroids and lifting weights. In no time the muscles in my arms expanded and I weighed 200 pounds.'"

Bush said, "I don't want anyone to think steroids had anything to do with my winning the election in Florida."

The writer said, "And then, Mr. President, you can say, 'If the Democrats push me around, I'll give them a poke in the nose they will never forget.' That should please the conservatives."

"The question is," the president said, "am I for steroids or against them?"

The first writer said, "We better call Karl Rove in."

Rove came in and Bush said, "Karl, where do I stand on steroids?"

Rove looked in his black election book, then said, "The pollsters don't consider steroids a big election issue. People say they are more interested in jobs than in athletes who take body-building drugs."

The president said, "Then should I come out against them in my State of the Union speech?"

Rove said, "It can't hurt. You may lose the baseball-player vote, but you will keep the golfer vote."

The president said, "Who should sit next to Mrs. Bush in the balcony?"

A writer said, "Rush Limbaugh. And on her other side a professional football player who has been rehabilitated at Betty Ford's."

Karl Rove said, "Keep it simple. Appeal to children who watch sporting events on TV and don't see anything wrong with a hockey player improving his game."

"Do we have a letter I can read from an 11-year-old child who thanks me for my message about steroids?" Bush asked.

"I'm sure there is one," the writer replied. "I know we have hundreds about Pete Rose getting in the Hall of Fame."

"Should we also warn the kids against gambling?" the other writer asked.

Rove replied, "We'd better not. Bill Bennett might think we're talking about him."

The president said, "To make sure people know I mean business, I want everyone in my administration to take a drug test. I'll take it out of our Homeland Security budget."

Rove said, "You come up with all the good ideas, Mr. President."

A writer agreed. "It will bring the Republicans to their feet."
Art, you're still here, and I'm hoping you'll be here long enough to get around to finding this humble blog. There are damn few in the world left like you, and even your heirs apparent, among which I count myself, will never do it as well or as consistently, as you.

And believe me, I try!

And if anyone can beat death, Art, it's you. Make Death laugh the way you make me laugh, and even an old pegleg like yourself can run away....

My Book Report For June

Usually, I use the "Recommended Reading" in my side bar (------->) in my posts to flesh out some idea I've got in my head that month.

This month, I've devoted my Recommended Reading to a book who's subject is rarely talked about: The American Penal System.

CONNED: How Millions Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House
© 2006, Sasha Abramsky
The New Press

Imagine, for a moment, that you are smoking a joint that you've just rolled from a key you've copped off your buddy (for some of you, this may not be much of a stretch at this particular moment). A knock comes on your door. You open it, and in walks a gaggle of police officers. You are arrested, and taken to jail.

Your lawyer, a tireless but overburdened fellow, comes to you with the prosecutor's offer: plead guilty to a lower felony possession charge, tell them where you got the pot, and they won't press the higher charge of possession with intent to distribute, which carries jail time.

You agree, narc on your buddy, and are sentenced to six months' probation and 2 years on parole.

Did you know that, in some states, you've just lost your right to vote permanently? And in others, your right to vote will now be hidden at the bottom of some drawer in a filing cabinet in the bowels of a half-vacated office building, never to be seen again unless you yourself go find it?

This is the theme of "Conned: How Millions Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House", Sasha Abramsky's new book about the American penal system.

In 1973, the American penal system held 400,000 prisoners. By 2005, no fewer than 2.2 million people, men and women, black, white and Hispanic, were serving time for crimes committed. This is a staggering number. In fact, 2.2 million exceeds any other country on the planet, including China, whose population is four times that of the US.

That's not "per capita" or rate of people imprisoned per hundred thousands of population. There are more people in the prison in the United States, population roughly 290 million, than in China, population 1.3 billion.

In addition, there are currently another seven million or so in other forms of the penal system: on parole, or probation.

On Wednesday, the vote to reaffirm the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was put off because Congresscritters from Southern states bridled at the fact that they were singled out for closer scrutiny under that law. Once you read "Conned," you will have a clearer insight into why that's true, and why it's correct to do so.

After the 2000 elections, we heard all about the hanging chads and the butterfly ballots and the 327 vote margin in Florida. What we didn't hear is that 400,000 people were wrongly disenfranchised of their votes. If even one percent of them had voted and if you allow the most extreme case, then this vote would have broken 60-40 Democrat, and Al Gore would have won Florida by 2,000 votes, never mind that he would have won several other states who subsequently modified their disenfranchisement policies. And you wouldn't have hanging chads or Pat Buchanan receiving Gore votes to talk about.

More than 4 million Americans currently have lost the right to vote. In some places, notably in the South, one in three black men have lost that right. And while the situation nationally has gotten better since the 2000 elections, in the South, it has actually gotten harder to regain the vote, and as such, because criminal justice tends to be skewed against blacks and other minorities, it has effectively disenfranchised people on racial grounds.

The argument can be made that felons (the Neo-Con term for "nigger") deserve to lose their vote: after all, they have broken the social contract. But the American penal system is nominally designed to put a person in the position of having "paid his debt to society." Clearly, as Abramsky's research has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, this is not the case at all.

Abramsky makes a strong case that this goes beyond justice to the level of a civil rights issue. The South, as Abramsky explained in a talk on Wednesday about "Conned," remains strongly tied to a 19th Century Victorian model where only propertied people, people who produce for society, should have a say in the governance. Further, he believes that this issue of disenfranchisement, once a national standard, is an outgrowth of medieval Europe's manner of dealing with felons: if they didn't execute them on the spot, they would brand them with the "Felon's Mark" which essentially was civil death and made them lose any civil protection. Citizens could do anything they wanted to them with no reprisals.

Abramsky takes a statistically-laden subject (because, in truth, the society impact of these laws can only be measured numerically: how many votes were lost, who would have won this election if these laws didn't exist, and so on) and writes an informative narrative, which he hangs on his travels about the country with his companion, Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, a study of this newfangled American idea that securing people in prisons and rehabilitating them to reincorporate them into society might actually work which eventually turned into a monograph on democracy, freedom, race relations and a panoply of issues unique to America.

While I found the writing style choppy, I was able to follow his thoughts to their logical conclusion: this is an issue that needs larger coverage and it is a lot more important than the current political system is allowing for.

Conned: How Millions of Americans Went to Prison, Lost the Vote, and Helped Send George W. Bush to the White House

A Glimpse At The Future

I can't resist articles like this, because I think back to my childhood and the promises held out for us by things like the World's Fair in 1964 and 2001:A Space Odyssey. I'll jump in with comments along the way:
The (possible) future of New York City

By Justin Rocket Silverman
amNewYork Staff Writer
OK, stepping for a moment: who the FUCK gives their kid the middle name "Rocket"? Moving on:
[...]Through interviews with scientists, economists and city planners, amNewYork presents snapshots of a time that doesn't exist. Yet.
And probably never will.
Transportation - "Very tough restrictions on private car use will be the only way to avert complete gridlock," says Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives. "New technology will charge drivers a fee for every mile they travel on city roads, with the highest fees charged for driving on the most congested streets at the most congested times."
I thought that was what the potholes were know, the repair shops kick back a percentage of their revenues in bodywork and axle repairs to the city coffers? It's no surprise that both Midas and Meineke discount muffler shops got their starts in this region.
The cost of parking will lead many more New Yorkers to befriend the bicycle, while others will use the kinds of Bus Rapid Transit systems that have already transformed cities in South America. Some advocates envision a car-free 42nd Street, with a light-rail system rushing passengers across town.
HA! First off, while many New Yorkers own and ride bikes in town, most Manhattanites prefer walking to biking. Landlords usually have severe restrictions where you can leave your bike, usually you have to take it into your apartment, and space is already at a premium in most apartments. Further, too much tunnel traffic from the Lincoln Tunnel would make the 42nd Street mall concept a non-starter.
The subway system will be expanded and upgraded in the next quarter-century, but not by a lot. Gene Russianoff of the Straphangers Campaign believes the Second Avenue Subway will be built, but says the MTA won't be able to afford much more than that.
Goodness knows they have to fund all those limos for the fat cats! The subways annually project (for five years' budget purposes) $17 billion (with a b) for maintenance and repair of the current trains, tracks, stations and tunnels. However, I don't hold Russianoff's deep skepticism. I think the #7 train extension will also occur, as well as the troubling LIRR terminal in Grand Central Station and the Lower Manhattan transport hub near the Trade Center..
The Economy - For a city to grow by a million people, it must provide new jobs for a million people, and that, say economists, is the biggest obstacle to any impending growth spurt.
True. Real estate prices being an enormous nut for most New Yorkers, jobs are critical to the city's survival, which means that a new dominating industry will have to take root here. As someone with some inside knowledge of the real estate industry, I can tell you that the Garment District has slowly seen the immigration of many high tech design houses for software and the Web. Centrally located, access to plenty of transportation and of course, right near the Theatre District and Times Square, the garment center has traditionally been a destination for businesses. It will remain so. The hope is that, with the development of the Trade Center site, including the transport hub, that downtown will see a refreshing move away from stodgy old law firms and investment houses (which have moved the lion's share of their employees out anyway) into something more vibrant and vital to the city's economy.
Culture and Living - Dr. Mehmet Oz, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Columbia University, sees a 2030 in which most New Yorkers have biomedical chips implanted in their arms. These chips make diagnosing illness a snap, and may also notify health care providers that it is time to raise premiums if a patient begins smoking or taking illegal drugs.
Kind of a no-brainer, Doc, seeing as those chips are being implanted now in the form of biomedical information and some limited scanning. All it really needs is packing the software onto the chip, techniques that are already showing promise in the computer industry (the most recent development, the PhysX chip, will start appearing in gaming systems soon, and will take a lot of the number crunching that realistic effects using the laws of physics require off the motherboard of your Dell)
Along with the biomedical revolution, advances in cosmetic surgery and what futurist Andrew Zolli calls, "wrinkle creams that really make your wrinkles go away," will legitimize a new era of inter-generational dating. "Nowadays, you occasionally see May-December romances," he says, "but by 2030 they will be far more common and more extreme. We're talking very early May to very late December romances."
Lemme see...I'll be in my 70s in 2030...I wonder if Angelina Jolie's great granddaughter will date me?

World Cup Recap

Wednesday 21 June

Portugal 2 Mexico 1

Portugal scored two early goals, by Maniche in the 8th minute and Sambrosa Simao on a penalty kick in the 24th minute, and survive the Mexican onslaught (José Fonseca scoring in the 29th minute was the lone goal). Both Portugal and Mexico advance, however and will meet Argentina or the Netherlands, depending on the results of that match later.

Iran 1 Angola 1

Had Angola won by three goals, they could have advanced to the elimination round, so it was surprising to see them play so cautiously and defensively. Scoring first in the 60th minute (Flavio), Angola seemed to settle back and wait. And sure enough, Iran capitalized on their sloppy play, scoring in the 75th minute (Sohrab Bakhtiarizadeh) off a corner kick.

Netherlands 0 Argentina 0

The featured match of the day pits two perennial powerhouse teams, both undefeated, and both advanced into the elimination round. If Argentina drew with or won against the Netherlands, they would play Mexico in the first game of elimination. Lose, and they face Portugal. The Dutch seemed to play a fairly conservative game, perhaps resting their side for the next round, even taking Ruud van Nistelroy and Robin van Persie off almost before the first hour of play was complete. Argentina pressed hard in the first half, but turned it down a notch in the final half.

Argentina to face Mexico, Netherlands to take on Portugal in what may be the match of the tournament as two perennial disappointments go head-to-head to advance.

Ivory Coast 3 Serbia & Montenegro 2

Nothing at stake in this game, except pride. Serbia & Montengro played a mean-spirited game, 5 yellow cards and a red while Ivory Coast earned 3 yellows. Serbia & Montenegro scored at the tenth and twentieth minute of the first half and tried to hold on as Ivory Coast crept close at the end of the first half with a penalty kick goal for a hand ball in the box, scored by Aruna Dindane in the 37th minute. Dindane later scored the equalizer in the 67th minute off a cross from Kader Keita as Serbia and Montenegro played ten men to their side off the red card shown to Albert Nadj at the end of the first half. In the 84th minute, Milan Dudic hand-balled in the 18 yard box, allowing Bonaventure Kalou a penalty kick, which he converted. A red card was shown to Cyrille Domoraud of the Ivory Coast in the 92nd minute, but with no affect on the outcome.
Thursday 22 June
Italy 2 Czech Republic 0

Two goals made the US job easier, while the Czech Republic, which looked so dominant against the US' pathetic "team" of individuals, could barely muster any type of attack in their final two games, apparently collapsing in the heat of a German summer. The second goal was a thing of beauty, scored on a half-field run on a two-on-nil breakaway. Italy did their part. Could the USA make it happen?

Ghana 2 USA 1

No. The sole bright spot of this game was that the US finally scored a goal on their own, as Clint Dempsey fired home a perfect shot off a gorgeous DaMarcus Beasley cross, which equalized the game. All show, no go. Ghana scored in the 2nd minute of stoppage time in the first half off a highly questionable penalty. A paranoid would think that the US specifically was targeted by FIFA with bad refereeing, perhaps as payback for our lack of humility in the world arena. Speaking of arenas, Bruce Arena, probably the worst choice for coach, failed to even make it interesting. His conservative line-ups and failure to coordinate his offense around someone other than Landon Donovan, who had a miserable tourney, made his appointment more than questionable.

Brazil 4 Japan 1

No surprises here, but this game is of note as Ronaldo scored two goals to tie for the all-time World Cup scoring lead with Gerd Muller of Germany.

Australia 2 Croatia 2

One of the dirtiest game of the tournament saw Croatia fighting for a win, literally. Australia scored late in the second half and the Socceroos move on to the elimination round.

Ghana will face Brazil in the first game of the next round. Italy, a favorite in the Group of Death that was Group E, faces Australia. If the Americans had shown the kind of passion they exhibited today against Italy and the Czech Republic, they'd be in the elimination round.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Play Nice Now, Children!

From the Baltimore Sun:
U.S. feud cuts flow of data on terror
Agency squabbles disrupt sharing with state officials

By Siobhan Gorman
Sun reporter

June 22, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Nearly five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security continue to clash over who is in charge of coordinating and vetting information on terrorism. As a result, state and local authorities continue to get conflicting or incomplete information - sometimes none at all - on threats inside the United States, officials say.

The feud over control of the information caused federal agencies last week to miss a White House deadline for outlining how it should be distributed to state and local authorities, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said yesterday.
Y'know, fellas, this isn't like who got Grandma's pearls in the divorce settlement, or why Aunt Edna passed the secret family bundt cake recipe to her no-account daughter-in-law who turned around and won first prize at the county fair...WE'RE TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE'S LIVES HERE!

So what's the background on this story? Glda you asked:
Under federal law, the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security are considered the main repositories for information about terrorism.
Fair enough. Homeland Security has access to non-judicial information that a law enforcement arm might not be privy to, such as....ummmmm...military! Yea! And intelligence data!

Which probably doesn't sit well with the Justice Department that they aren't forced to report to them:
In part because it has a long-established system for sharing information through joint task forces, the Justice Department was at first "somewhat resistant" to the notion of a broader plan, said a counterterrorism official familiar with the issue. Eventually, officials at Justice agreed that Homeland Security had an important role to play and that a plan was needed to incorporate the department.
I'm too smart for my pants...*chuckle*...

This feud grows out of the fact that, not only does DoJ have to share information with DHS, but in point of fact, DoJ is nominally supposed to report this information to DHS, despite DoJ's overtures to make Homeland Security a part of Justice.

A directive form Bush required Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to come up with a definitive plan mapping out the details of how this information was to be shared by June 14th. Flag Day.

June 14th has come, and gone. No plan. Oh, there's a broad consensus that some plans must be in place and some general guidelines have been established, but nothing concrete.

Meanwhile the news earlier this week that Al-Qaeda was only 45 days from launching a massive chemical attack in New York City's subway system brings into sharp relief the dangers of this idiotic McCoy/Hatfield feuding. Back then, the city was informed in a timely fashion of the potential for an attack and was quick to start setting up police checkpoints in the subways and start a massive campaign of "If You See Something, Say Something."

The first line of defense against a terror attack like that is the citizenry. Period. If you don't inform the community, then people are not as vigilant. If people are not as vigilant, then the terrorists have an easier time of it.

See, during the 2004 campaign, the Republicans mocked the Kerry campaign for making it appear that the Global War On Terror-like Activities and Sewing Circle was best handled via police work.

They were wrong. That is PRECISELY how we are going to stop another attack on America. Take the current alert in New York City.

Oh? Didn't you know? I did. How did I know? I paid attention. Over the past two weeks, I've seen an increase in the number of checkpoints, bag searches and general police activity around landmarks, subways and bridges across the city.

We've been warned. We just haven't been told. And now we know why. Katie and Sally can't share their toys.

, ,

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Valedictorians, Arise!

This story got a lot of play over the weekend, pitting free speech "experts" against freedom from religion "experts." I think in this case, I come down squarely in the "good taste" camp.
Valedictorian's speech cut short by school district

A local high school graduation ended with roars of protest after school officials turned the microphone off right in the middle of one of the valedictorian's speeches. The microphone cut out after the valedictorian at Foothill High made reference to God.

The family says the District's decision isn't fair. Brittney McComb says she's a straight A student, number one in her class, and is headed to Biola University in the fall.

Brittney attributes all of her success to God. Trouble is, she tried to explain that during her speech which the school district said they told her beforehand was a no-no.

"God's love is so great."

This was part of the speech that Brittney McComb says she so wanted to give on graduation night. But because it did have numerous references to God and Jesus Christ, the school district cut off the mic, leaving her practically silent. That's when many people stood up and booed, showing their support.
As well they should have, cut off her mic, I mean, but not for the piddling little reasons of Constitutionality.

Brittney, you seem like a bright kid, so let me give you a piece of advice you're probably not going to get from anyone else.

If it's dumb, don't do it. This was dumb. How do I know this? Here's what you said:
"God's love is so great."
Here's something else you might have said:
"Allah's love is so great."
"Satan's love is so great."
Do you see where I'm going with this? You hid behind God's skirts in a vain attempt for your fifteen minutes of fame.

Shut up. Get your degree, get a job....oops, Fundie Christian...get a husband...start a family, take some vacations.

Smart is wasted on you.

NOTE: Now, there's going to be an element out there that says, "Wait. Carl. You just slammed an 18 year old!"

Yea. And your point is? She's a straight A student who's corruptible enough to get it into her head that she's a warrior in fighting the oppression of white Christian males in America. I got no more problem with this than her side has with killing children in Haditha. Less so, since she's doing this of her own free will.

By the way, Biola University? A Fundie school. She's obviously already working on her know, her "Masters in Stepford Wife."

Finally, Something The US Excels At!


Source: Steve Clifford

Q. Does International Trade benefit the United States?

A. International trade benefits everyone.

Q. How?

A. Let’s look at Finland. Finland makes excellent cell phones. Then they sell their phones to other countries and buy what those countries make best, TV’s from Japan, textiles from China, tin from Brazil, and taxi drivers from Uzbekistan.

Q. So every country produces the products they make best and free trade allows everyone to get the best of everything?

A. Exactly. We get the best from each country. Furs from Russia, sherry from Spain and oil from Saudi Arabia.

Q. What does the United States sell to other countries? What product do we make best?

A. Debt.

Q. So other countries sell us oil, TV's, sherry, and cab drivers, and we sell them debt?

A. Right. Last year we sold $150 billion of debt to China alone.

Q. Couldn’t the Chinese manufacture their own debt?

A. They could, but they are not very good at it. They fare much better by selling us their great textiles and then buying our superbly crafted debt.

Q. Why do we make the best debt?

A. The quick answer is productivity. Our debt productivity is the highest in the world. Last year we ran a trade deficit of $666 billion. That’s $6000 for each household in the U.S.

Q. Is that good?

A. That is great productivity. Look at the French, who are trying to compete with us in debt production. Their trade deficit was a paltry $109 per household. The debt productivity of the U.S. is fifty-five times that of France.

Q. Is that because the French work only 35 hours a week, take long vacations, and are saddled with social welfare policies that sap individual initiative?

A. Yes, and they also waste time with their families when they could be producing debt.

Q. What explains the United States’ extraordinary debt productivity?

A. Culture, technology and government.

Q. Culture?

A. We make the best debt in the world because we have a culture that allows debt to flourish. Debt is second nature to us. We invented home equity loans, auto loans, and variable rate mortgages. Financial obligations – debts, mortgages, auto payments now consume one fifth of household income in the U.S. And the average credit card debt of U.S. households is about $10,000.

Q. Sounds like France and China don’t have a chance!

A. Not with our technological edge. Other countries are still using old fashioned mortgages while we are pioneering with space-age debt technologies such as interest only strips on pass-through securities based upon pools of collateralized mortgage obligations. We are the country that invented off-balance sheet debt financing. We’re the home of Enron!

Q. So our trading partners recognize our technological lead?

A. No, they whine about unfair trade practices.

Q. What is their complaint?

A. They claim that “Stumble, Fumble and Borrow” is protectionist, giving our domestic debt industry an unfair advantage.

Q. Is “Stumble, Fumble and Borrow” a law firm?

A. No. “Stumble, Fumble and Borrow” is the current administration’s approach to any issue. Hurricane Katrina? Stumble, Fumble and Borrow. Iraq? Stumble, Fumble and Borrow. Energy? Transportation? Health Care? Farm Programs? Stumble Fumble and Borrow.

This year the administration will receive over $150 billion of supplemental appropriations for war, counter-terrorism and disaster relief – all appropriated outside of the normal budget process and all financed by debt.

Q. Why can’t other countries compete with “Stumble, Fumble & Borrow”?

A. Because in the last two years, “Stumble, Fumble & Borrow” has added $742 billion to our federal debt. Our level of debt, $72,000 per household, provides economies of scale that give our domestic debt industry an unbeatable advantage.

Q. That’s great, but how will we pay it all off?

A. Pay it off? Our expertise is debt manufacturing and marketing. We don’t have much experience in paying it off. We can’t compete with the Swiss, the Danes and the Dutch when it comes to paying off debt.

The 20th Hijacker

Apparently, the American media have been studiously avoiding giving this story anything much more than a crawl across the bottom of your TV screen, so let's go to the Beeb to find out more, shall we?
'Al-Qaeda video' of 20th hijacker

A video said to be from al-Qaeda shows the man it says was the planned "20th hijacker" for the 9/11 US attacks.
The video, released by a US intelligence organisation, is of Saudi man, Fawaz al-Nashimi, who was killed in a shootout in Saudi Arabia in 2004.

The US has not commented and the video claim cannot be independently verified.

The identity of a 20th hijacker has been the subject of great debate, although there is no concrete evidence one was part of the plans for 9/11.
What? Did we not just convict Moussaoui?
The CIA had initially suspected jailed al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui as the 20th hijacker, but later revised its opinion.
A statement said to be from al-Qaeda had appeared on a website on 13 June identifying Nashimi as the planned 20th hijacker.

It said that "for some reasons" alleged ringleader Mohammed Atta brought forward the date of the attacks and it was "not in Allah's design for [Nashimi] to become a martyr along with his 19 brothers".

The posting denied Moussaoui was the 20th hijacker, backing up an audio recording released in May purported to be from al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

The man in the tape says: "I am the one in charge of the 19 brothers and I never assigned brother Zacarias to be with them in that mission."
I do have to wonder about one thing: this "IntelCenter" charges a pretty penny for what should essentially be a free video (after all, it's not like they produced it, did they?)

A Real Fluff Piece

You all know the term "fluff piece", which is essentially a non-story story that uncovers no new ground on an issue or personality: basically, a softball designed to put the person in the best (or worst) possible light.

This is nothing like that:
Fluffernutter Sandwich Angers Mass. Senator

Associated Press Writer

June 21, 2006, 7:49 AM EDT

BOSTON -- It's creamy, it's sweet and it's become a staple of lunch boxes for generations of New England school children.

Now, the beloved Fluffernutter sandwich -- the irresistible combination of Marshmallow Fluff and peanut butter, preferably on white bread with a glass of milk handy -- finds itself at the center of a sticky political debate.
How to make a Fluffernutter. First you spread spread spread your bread with peanut butter, add Marshmallow Fluff and have a Fluffernutter. Moving onto the sticky issue:
Sen. Jarrett Barrios was outraged that his son Nathaniel, a third-grader, was given a Fluffernutter sandwich at the King Open School in Cambridge. He said he plans to file legislation that would ban schools from offering the local delicacy more than once a week as the main meal of the day.

The Democrat said that his amendment to a bill on junk food in schools may seem "a little silly" -- but that school nutrition is serious.
School nutrition IS serious, no doubt about it. A pity the Federal government doesn't seem to think so, seeing as the program was developed by Republicans when it was felt that school children weren't getting sufficient nutrition to help America compete against godless Commies who were sending rockets to the moon and goodness knows, some of them might have weapons of mass destruction on them...

But I digress, again. Perhaps there's a way to smooth out the senator and get the Cambridge school out of this jam? Let's see:
His proposal seemed anything but silly to Rep. Kathi-Anne Reinstein, a Democrat whose district in Revere is near the company that has produced the marshmallow concoction for more than 80 years, Durkee-Mower Inc.

She responded with a proposal to designate the Fluffernutter the "official sandwich of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts."

"I'm going to fight to the death for Fluff," Reinstein said.
Strong words, you'll agree. Apparently, Ms. Reinstein is no marshmallow, but has strong resolve to protect her interests. Jarring words, to be sure. Still, there's hope:
An aide to Barrios insisted the senator is not anti-Fluff and even plans to co-sponsor Reinstein's bill, although he still believes schools should cut back on Fluffernutters.

"He loves Fluff as much as the next legislator," aide Colin Durrant said.
It seems the senator's position might soften, as I'm sure this bill will not be sandwiched between trivial matters like Massachussetts health care and the bill to fund the commission to find the missing "R's" in New England patois.

I'm sure they'll whip this past the legislature.

(Author's Disclosure: I was a freak for Fluff back in elementary school.)

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

It Sounds Like The General Has His First Volunteer!

O'REILLY: So because -- what you have here now is a tipping point in history. A tipping point in history. So you have to win the Iraq situation. Now, to me, they're not fighting it hard enough. See, if I'm president, I've got probably another 50-60,000 with orders to shoot on sight anybody violating curfews. Shoot 'em on sight. That's me. President O'Reilly, curfew in Ramadi, 7 o'clock at night. You're on the street, you're dead. I shoot you right between the eyes. OK?

That's how I'd run that country -- just like Saddam ran it.
Saddam didn't have explosions. He didn't have bombers, did he? Because if you got out of line, you're dead.
Just. Like. Saddam. Ran. It.

Why did we fight this war again? Oh. Right. Because chickenhawks were too skeered to wait the guy out...which sort of tells me that O'Reilly's salvo is the acknowledgement that Patriotboy's request of Roger Ailes did not fall on deaf ears.
Fox News should be touting sectarian violence as the huge policy success it is. It's only been a couple of years since John Negroponte first began applying everything he learned in the Reagan-era killing fields of Central America to Iraq, arming and training quasi-official Shia militia groups with names like the Scorpion Brigade, the Wolf Brigade, and the Fearless Warriors just as he had armed and trained the ARENA death squads of El Salvador two decades earlier. Before long, the "Salvador Option," as he called it, started to bear fruit. Morgues throughout the country began to overflow with the bodies of the disappeared, each bearing marks of torture and execution. Now that it is evolving into full fledged ethnic cleansing and civil war, it is only a matter of time until the troublesome Sunnis, like the Mayans of Guatemala, are no longer a problem.
tags technorati :

World Cup Recap

Monday, 19 June

Switzerland 2 Togo 0

France's disappointing draw with Korea yesterday left an opening for Switzerland to leap-frog to first place in the group with a game left to play against Korea. A tie there will guarantee Switzerland a place in the elimination round. Goals from Alexander Frei in the 16th minute and Tranquillo Barnetta in the 88th minute, eliminating Togo while securing a good chance at advancement for themselves.

Ukraine 4 Saudi Arabia 0

No real surprise here. The Saudi national team is wholly comprised of players who only play in the Saudi national football league, and they have no international superstars to speak of. Which doesn't speak well for the rest of the Arabic and Asian regions. With the win, Ukraine vaults into second place in their group behind Spain, and are well positioned to move forward.

Spain 3 Tunisia 0

Tunisia, coming off a desperation last-second tie against Saudi Arabia, faced its biggest challenge of the tournament with Spain, a side that dispatched Ukraine handily. Jaouhar Mnari scored for Tunisia in the 8th minute off the rebound of his own shot from Spanish keeper Iker Casillas, to underscore their desperation. But in the 71st minute, Raul taps in a rebound of a Cesc Fabregas shot, and five minutes later, Fernando Torres takes a nice pass from Fabregas to turn a quick shot past the Tunisian keeper, Ali Boumnijel. Torres also scored a penalty kick at the end of regulation.
Tuesday, 20 June

Germany 3 Ecuador 0

The host country storms through its group with 3 wins, two goals surrendered and 8 scored. Miroslav Klose slammed in two goals, and Lukas Podolski added what amounted to an emtpy net goal to finalize scoring. Ecuador, despite a miserable defeat, advanced as well.

Poland 2 Costa Rica 1

Playing strictly for pride, both teams played hard and tough football. Costa Rica scored first, as Ronald Gomez drilled home a free kick in the 25th minute. Eight minutes later, Poland's Batosz Bosacki drew the sides even, and eventually scored the winning goal in the 66th minute with a leaping header over keeper Jose Porras.

England 2 Sweden 2

England have secured a spot in the elimination round with a pair of wins, however, the other Group B spot remained to be determined. Sweden merely needed a draw to advance. Michael Owen, who had been sharply critic of Technical Director Sven Goran-Eriksson due to his reduced playing time, left the game after three minutes with a knee injury suffered apparently just running up the field. Joe Cole scored in the 35th minute off a clearing attempt from 30 yards out, catching the ball on his chest and then firing home a high shot to the corner. Sweden stormed back after the half, Marcus Allback climbed high to nod the ball past keeper Paul Robinson off a corner from Kim Kallstrom in the 52nd minute, despite Ashely Cole's best efforts to get his head in front of Allback's shot. It was also the 2000th goal in World Cup history. Steven Gerrard, who has proven to be England's salvation time and time again, scored in the 85th minute off a cross from Joe Cole to head the ball past keeper Andreas Isaksson, but just five minutes later, Henrik Larsson tied the game again, on a long throw in he scooped up and dribbled in behind the English defense. Both sides played as if the game really had meaning for each.

Paraguay 2 Trinidad & Tobago 0

The Soca Warriors of T&T needed a win going in over Paraguay, a bit of a disappointment in this group despite only giving up two goals against England and Sweden. Paraguay carried a 1-0 lead at the half thanks to an own goal by T&T's Brent Sancho, eerily reminiscent of the goal that gave England a 1-0 victory over Paraguay on Opening Day of the tournament, brushing the head of the defender and slipping past keeper Kelvin Jack. In the 86th minute, Nelson Cuevas outfoxed the defensive trap and got the ball all alone in front of goal and seals the deal on a swipe just inside the left post.

The Group B elimination seeds will have England playing Ecuador, while Sweden has yet another tough game playing Group A winner, Germany.

Cute Furry Little Critter Time!

Lewis, The Crazy Cat

Now, this is my idea of a cat!
Judge spares Lewis the cat, grants owner special probation

By Pat Eaton-Robb, Associated Press Writer | June 20, 2006

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. --A judge spared the life of alleged neighbor-assaulter Lewis the cat on Tuesday, but ordered him to remain inside his owner's Fairfield home at all times.

"There are no exceptions. None," said Superior Court Judge Patrick Carroll, who also granted accelerated rehabilitation to Lewis' owner, Ruth Cisero.

Cisero's record will be cleared in two years if she completes 50 hours of community service and Lewis stays indoors. If Lewis does get out, Cisero could face up to six months in prison. An animal control officer, not a judge, would decide what happens to the cat.

Cisero was charged with reckless endangerment after neighbors complained that Lewis' long claws and stealth have allowed him to attack at least a half-dozen people and ambush the Avon lady as she was getting out of her car.
Now, many's the time I've wanted to ambush the Avon lady, especially that one cretin who decided that my doorbell wasn't ringing loud enough and MANAGED to WEDGE IT into the mailbox for TWO HOURS!!!!!.

*deep breath*

But I digress...a stealthy cat. Whoda thunk, eh? And a feisty one, too.

Lewis gets my vote. In fact, I'm thinking of hiring him. I've been seeing a bunch of suspicious Jehovah's Witnesses eyeing my doorbell. Any cat with enough balls to run up to a metal box a thousand times its size and still have the foresight to keep an eye open for the car door opening deserves to be fed on demand.

In fact, I'm not sure it would be safe not to feed it!

American Woman, Said Get Away...

Found this rather eye-catching little item in the back of the newspaper today:
Women achieving more politically in many nations other than U.S.

Associated Press Writer

June 20, 2006, 3:36 AM EDT

NEW YORK -- For all the talk about Hillary Rodham Clinton and Condoleezza Rice battling for the presidency in 2008, the closest a woman has come to the Oval Office is actress Geena Davis, star of the recently canceled TV series "Commander in Chief."

Yet, in other nations, a female leader isn't just the stuff of television drama.

Countries as diverse as Britain, Chile, Liberia and Israel have elected women to their highest political office. When it comes to female representation in national parliaments, the U.S. ranks 68th in the world.

A primary reason for the success of women in politics elsewhere, according to one observer, is the effort on the part of women themselves.

"Women in other countries have made more strong-willed efforts than we have," said Marie Wilson, head of the New York-based White House Project, a nonpartisan group that works to increase women's participation in politics. "They have gelled with each other to say: 'We know women matter in these positions. We must have more women."'
That's an interesting conclusion. Many in this country would blame the patriarchy (and clearly, that is a large obstacle to women or any minority). But how much is it the patriarchy and how much is it the culture of American women? And then, why?

Congress is made up about 85-15 men to women, and in fact, fewer women are running this year for Congress than in 1992. The most visible women in this country, Hillary Clinton and Condoleeza Rice, are discounted as presidential candidates precisely because of their gender.

Even Iraq and Afghanistan have more women serving in government than America!

Other countries, notably in the Third World, have mandated quotas for women representatives in government, but many of these, particularly in Latin America, have lapsed and yet women still serve and in far larger proportions than in America.

Why is it that this, the richest, most advanced country, can't even keep up with Rwanda in women representation?

Now, I have some of the brightest women on the planet reading this blog.

Have at it. Go read the article, then come back here and discuss. I'll stay out of the thread entirely, except to read your responses.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Who Da Man?

I made Pam "AtlASS" remove the embedding feature from her vlog at

Now, I consider myself a gentleman, and a really sweet forgiving guy....but this crackpot supports Santorum in her latest offering.

Go get her, folks! She's a skank and deserves our OB-GYN lovin'...

PS She's disabled my comments. Can't take a little heat there, Pammyboobs? C'est dommage.

I'll be at the Vilalge Barnes & Noble on Wednesday night, Pammy. If you'd like, we could meet up, you can bring your daughter to tape us, and we can....debate.

Better bring a dictionary. I'll do the translation for those of us who speak English.

UPDATE: Link fixed. I was trying to hack an embed. Sorry.

Do A Little Dance, Kick A Little Ass....

Get down tonight....get down tonight...

David Sirota (listed in my blogroll------------------>) took on John Stossel on highly unfriendly turf, CNBC's Kudlow & Co., over the minimum wage.

Sirota cleaned Stossel's clock.

Bush Is Running Out Of Friendly Audiences

WARNING: Heavy snark ahead.

Bush addresses Kings Point grads

Newsday Washington Bureau

June 19, 2006, 12:00 PM EDT

President George W. Bush received a very warm welcome this morning at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point -- from the weather and the crowd.

Praising their service in war and at peace as exemplifying the "spirit of America and the spirit of this fine academy," Bush Monday became the first sitting president to address graduates of the academy.
Oh, how nice! Another service academy for Dumbya to stand up in front of and feel his OB-GYN lovin' from! Pretty impressive, speaking at one of them service academies that help fight that war over there on terror.

Oh wait. What exactly IS the "Merchant Marine," anyway?
There are tankers traveling along the west coast with raw petroleum for our refineries; Great Lakes vessels loaded with iron ore, coal or other minerals for America's industry; huge containerships in Eastern ports, their box-like containers filled with manufactured goods; general cargo ships in the Gulf unloading pallets of coffee and crates of fruit; tugboats pushing and pulling barges carrying the Midwest's grain.

These kinds of vessels, owned by U.S. companies, registered and operated under the American flag, comprise the U.S. merchant marine.
Grain? Ore? Petr...CARGO SHIPS?!?!?!?

Hm, no wonder "Bush Monday became the first sitting president to address graduates of the academy." All the other Presidents weren't as desperate to have us like him, really really LIKE him!

So while "Sally Field" was off speechifying at a low-level cargo port where they're too cheap to hire Teamsters, we're finding out that the American Embassy in Iraq is scared shitless to be there, Condi Bush Rice was warning North Korea about building a missile that could deliver a payload to the Western United States (memo to Dubya: It'd be a little less ingenuous to withhold terror funding form New York if you didn't make a big stink about this missile which apparently can reach Wyoming's ranch country), and New Yorkers were dealing with the revelation that, in fact, that stench they smelled in 2003 wasn't some homeless guy crapping his pants, but may have been a test of a new delivery system for cyanide gas from Al Qaeda. Lovely.

Bush's day? He got gifts:
During his visit, Bush was presented a ceremonial scabbard and a copy of the "Presidential Pets March," written specially for him to commemorate his two dogs, Barney and Miss Beazley, and his cat, India.


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Attention Blogtopia (©Skippy)

In connection with the upcoming fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks that killed 2,996 people in America, D.C. Roe has taken on a monumental challenge and needs your help.

Each victim will be memorialized by one blogger. Or, as D.C. puts it:
[O]n September 11, 2006 you’ll post your own tribute to that person. It can be anything you want it to be: a photo tribute, an essay, a remembrance, a poem…it’s up to you. Then link back to a page I will create which will give the names of all 2,996 victims and links to the blogs that will remember them that day.

But, and this is critical, I don’t want any of us to remember the murderers. Do not refer to the terrorists. Or their organization. Or their goals. Let them fade into nothing. Let them be forgotten. Remember those worth remembering.
I figure this blog gets about a hundred other bloggers reading it, many if not most of whom are not aware of this project. So far, I think he has about 400 or 500 participants (myself included).

Please help. I'm sure there will be hundreds of reporters fanning out nationwide (likely, they've already started) to do something similar, but to have 3,000 different people from all walks of life talking about people they'd likely never met...this is a project that can only help heal wounds in this country, not reopen them. Please click any of the links above and you will be taken to D.C.'s blog, where you can sign up.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

World Cup Recap

Saturday 17 June

Portugal 2 Iran 0

Portugal got the luckiest win of the tourney. By my count, no less than seven superstars of soccer bored the hell out of the entire crowd and lulled the Iranian team to sleep, so that the only goal of consequence, Deco's goal in the 63rd minute, was practically a fluke. Portugal added another on a PK by Cristiano Ronaldo in 80th minute. Ronaldo. an insecure young Manchester United player, played perhaps the single most selfish game I've ever seen in soccer. Coupled with Angola's surprising draw with Mexico, this Group D is now up for grabs. All four teams remain alive.

Ghana 2 Czech Republic 0

Easily the biggest upset of the tournament, even more so than Ecuador over Poland. Ghana played the best team game of the tournament. Goals by Asamoah Gyan in the second minute and Sulley Muntari in the 82nd minute meant that no one would be officially eliminated or officially advance to the next round today. The man of the match in my opinion was Czech goal keeper Petr Cech, as this game could easily have been 4- or even 5-0 but for the amazing ability of the Chelsea keeper.

USA 1 Italy 1

The first half saw Italians score two goals, Alberto Golardino in the 22nd minute for Italy, and Cristian Zaccardo putting in an own goal on a USA free kick in the 27th minute. Red cards for both sides, as Daniele De Rossi elbowed Brian McBride of the US in the face in the 28th minute, and Pablo Mastroeni receiving a questionable make-up red card in the 45th minute for a marginally illegal tackle. In the 46th minute, the referee decided the game by sending Eddie Pope off for a fairly clean tackle with his second yellow card of the game, reducing the USA squad to nine men. It's very sad when a referee feels he is more important than the game he's working. While mathematically the US remains alive in the standings, you may as well bet Bush will be impeached by this Congress ahead of the US making it to the elimination round. My statement of the other day stands: the US is dead in the water, and shouldn't even bother showing up for the game against Ghana.
Sunday 18 June

Japan 0 Croatia 0

Both teams were desperate for a result in this game, although this draw hurts neither. Japan needed a win more as they go on to face Brazil in the last game of the preliminary round. Croatia had the only real scoring chance, when in the 22nd minute, Darijo Srna shanked a penalty kick allowing Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi to bat it aside. The game featured no flow, no rhythm, and no passion.

Brazil 2 Australia 0

Australia allowed both Japan and Croatia's hopes to advance to remain alive despite a charging counterattack to the dominant Brazil offense, which advanced to the elimination round. Adriano scored at the 49th minute on a beautiful crossing feed from Ronaldo, universally acclaimed as the best player in the world (except by me). Fred (yes, you heard that name correctly) scored off a rebound from Robinho's shot off the Sockeroos keeper, Scott Chipperfield.

France 1 Korea 1

It looked as thought world's best player Thierry Henry's first goal of the tourney, and France's first in eight years at the World Cup, at the nine minute mark would stand up as the difference, and allow France's first win since they won the Cup in 1998, but Korea sent wave after wave of attackers into the French end, and equalized at the 81st minute on a goal by Park Ji-Sung, poked over the head of defender William Gallas on a scramble in front. The game may have marked the end of French hero Zinedo Zidane, who received his second yellow card of the tourney, and will sit out the Togo game, which France must win to guarantee advancement. Korea, too, need to win against Switzerland to secure a place in the next round.

Father's Day

I'm not sure how I feel about a holiday that reminds me that my daughter's Net Fu is this:

While mine is this:

I don't have a particularly warm-n-fuzzy relationship with either of my parents, and Father's Day is not precisely Mother's Day when it comes to "smack me upside my head with a wet towel wrapped around a brick" marketing and soppy sentimentality. I didn't choose my parents, so I'm not particularly heartbroken by the distance and strain between us. Coupled to this is the fact that both are now elderly-- Dad'll be 90 this year, Mom will be 83-- and my dad is in a nursing home for severe dementia.

It's sad to see his fine mind-- taught himself calculus with a fourth grade education-- gone, and his strong and healthy body (carpenter) withered to straw and skin. I feel pity for him, of course, and there's a hint of gratitude for putting his seed in my mom to create me, and I'm not suicidal about this next bit, but damn, if you're going to father a son, you ought to be a dad to him, too.

Maybe this is why I'm liberal (for the record, dad is a dyed-in-the-wool Socialist) and maybe why I think deadbeat dads ought to be strung up by their balls until their vas deferens can feed a hungry Sudanese family for a week.

But to you, happy father's day, whether you be a dad, a not-dad, or a not-man who loves a dad.

But, to bring this post to a "happy furry end", here are some cute l'il animal dads....The seahorse. The world's only animal where the wife can't complain about labor pains.The American marmoset, where the dad raises the children from birth while the wife goes down to the bar and watches the ballgames.The microcylid frog, where the male carries the stinkin' litte rat bastards around on his back...rotten little kids, you work your whole life just for them....