Saturday, August 05, 2006

A Real Cat Fight

Hemingway cat caretakers fight with USDA

The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum disputes the USDA's claim that it is an "exhibitor" of cats and needs to have a USDA Animal Welfare License, according to a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Miami.

"What they're comparing the Hemingway house to is a circus or a zoo because there are cats on the premises," Cara Higgins, the home's attorney, said Friday. "This is not a traveling circus. These cats have been on the premises forever."
Must be that Hemingway was a liberal, I guess. Why else would now, after fifty years, the USDA suddenly take up paws against these cats?

Now, I've been to Hemingway Home. It's a marvelous and inspiring place. You can feel Hemingway's lusts and vibrancy as you walk through the narrow corridors. Climbing the steps to his studio is humbling, and you are in awe of seeing the place where "A Farewell To Arms," among other classics, was typed.

The tour guides are this very eclectic mix of former homeless people, frustrated writers, and Hemingway scholars, and any stop to Key West would be incomplete, at least for an aspiring writer, without a stop at this historic landmark.

And of course, the cats. Roughly half the cats at the Home are polydactyl, meaning they have six toes instead of five. Yup. It looks as weird as it sounds. Hemingway was given one of the original "polys" by a ship's captain he met in a bar on Key West, and some of his progeny still roam the grounds. Not all the cats are neutered or spayed, but because the food is free and there's a modest fence keeping them in, they tend to stay on the grounds. Most are named after people Hemingway knew, like Charlie Chaplin above, except some of the latest kittens are named after other things in Hemingway's life, like characters from stories, or events in Key West, like Frances and Ivan on the right, named after the hurricanes.

Proceeds from the sale of cat souvenirs is earmarked for local animal shelters.

So one has to wonder why the USDA is involved?
Agency inspectors who have repeatedly visited the property since October 2003 have never indicated any concerns about the welfare of the cats. But they have said a 6-foot-high, brick-and-mortar fence Hemingway built around the property in 1937 did not sufficiently contain the 53 cats, which should be caged, according to the complaint.

Caging the cats, some of which are 19 years old or older, would traumatize them, and the home's designation as a National Historic Site prohibits extending the height of the fence, the complaint said.

The tourist site complies with city and county ordinances, Higgins said. "We don't know why the USDA got involved in this," she said.
You know, these guys have relaxed the rules on meat production, dairy production, they've downgraded the definition of organic foods...and with all that extra work piling up, they have time to harass a few cats???

UPDATE: OK, so since so many of you bugged me that this wasn't a real cat

tags technorati :

More On Mel

Just when you thought things couldn't get much worse for the embodiment of Christian values (pre-Vatican II), comes this little item in the gossip columns in the New York Daily News...
Some Jews are Mel's chosen onesSome of Mel Gibson's best friends are Jewish - and sexy.
Malibu cops have said the Oscar winner spewed vile anti-Semitic bile during his drunken-driving arrest last week. But we hear the "Braveheart" star couldn't have been nicer to a fetching 23-year-old University of Pennsylvania grad student in 2001, when he was filming M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs" in Philadelphia.

Sources say the 50-year-old married father of seven was seen around town with the Jewish brunette, and even visited her apartment.

Yesterday, the woman, now 27 and married, downplayed their friendship, telling us, "We happened to be in a couple of places together." (ed note: *snark*)

But it's safe to say that even after 26 years of marriage to wife Robyn, the devout Catholic still likes to look.

A couple of years ago at Vanity Fair's Oscar party, Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Audrey Quock was hanging out at the bar with a male friend around 2:30 a.m.

"Mel Gibson took one look at Audrey and marched across the room," the friend tells us. "He said to me, 'Good-looking chick. Is she with you? Do you mind if I hit on her?'

"I said, 'Take your best shot, buddy.'

"He started telling her how beautiful she was. I said, 'Aren't you married?' He didn't answer. Audrey blew him off like a hurricane. He walked away like a schoolboy who'd been sent to his room.'"

Maybe he was kidding around?

"It didn't seem like he was kidding to me," says our witness. "I don't know if he was drunk, but he was arrogant."

Gibson's rep dismissed the Quock story as "nonsense," but didn't comment by deadline on the Philly gal. The spokesman also didn't get back to us about a Philadelphia Daily News report on his drinking habits.

One source tells the paper's Dan Gross that his bar bill at Smith & Wollensky ran "between $500 and $600."

"I could barely keep up with him," adds the source. Once lubricated, the paper says, Gibson would provide impromptu chiropractic therapy to male and female barmates.

Gibson is now seeking his own "program of recovery" for alcoholism.
(emphases added) Oh dear....what would Pope Urban II say?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Friday Music Blogging

We Need To Hold Events Like This Across the US!

LONDON (Reuters) - Hundreds of Britons are being urged to attend what is being branded as Europe's first "Masturbate-a-thon," a leading British reproductive healthcare charity said Friday.

Marie Stopes International, which is hosting the event with HIV/AIDS charity the Terrence Higgins Trust, said it expected up to 200 people to attend the sponsored masturbation session in Clerkenwell, central London, Saturday.

"It is a bit of a publicity stunt but we hope it will raise awareness," a Marie Stopes spokeswoman told Reuters.

"We want to get people talking about safer sex, masturbation and to lift taboos."

Participants, who have to be over 18, can bring any aids they need and can take part in four different rooms -- a comfort area, a mixed area, along with men and women only areas.

However, the rules on the event's Web site states there can be no touching of other participants nor are people allowed to fake orgasms.

"The amount you raise will be determined by how many minutes you masturbate and/or how many orgasms you achieve," the Web site said.
The article mentions San Francisco as a place this has occured, but why isn't this nationwide? Why, just the wanking the so-called "punditry" on the right does could raise a million bucks!

Thank You, General Obvious!

In Congress, two of the Pentagon's most senior generals - Gen. John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East, and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - testified yesterday that the surge in sectarian violence in recent weeks raises the civil-war possibility. In London, Britain's outgoing ambassador to Iraq, William Patey, advised his government that Iraq is more likely headed toward "low-intensity civil war" and sectarian partition than toward a stable democracy.
Marine Colonel Thomas X. Hammes, author of The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century identified a more basic, undeniable problem: "Talking about a new strategy is useless until we get a new team—in the Pentagon, in the Administration. These guys have screwed up everything. They haven't got the credibility to implement anything."
Where the hell these guys been for the past two years? This civil war has been brewing ever since we set foot on Iraqi soil!

Colonel Hammes mentions that the in Iraq situation mirrors closely what happened in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation: freedom fighters forced the USSR out, and all hell broke loose, but that hell started cracking open amongst the various factions even before the Soviets began pulling out, as rival groups, smelling Soviet retreat, began jockeying for the low-hanging fruit in an effort to be in place when the tree fell down.

And we all know what grew out of that: the Taliban, Osama bin Laden's haven and 9/11. And this is before taking into account the failure of Israel to neutralize the threat of Hamas and Hizbollah with mighty blunder of invading Lebanon. Global jihad might be the least of our worries. Iraq is an oil-rich nation. Iran would love to get its mitts on Iraq. So would a lot of countries that we compete with, like China and Russia. How long a stretch is it to imagine a global war the likes of which we've never seen involving nations and powers that have no regard for the "rules of war"?

The difficulty is, there is no other course of action for America but to pull our troops out. To stay would mean risking an occupation, the length of which would rival Roman forces in Gaul.
See July's Recommended Reading selection, Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic
Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic

What we need to do in this military contraction is take a good long hard look at how we're going to fight was some have described as 4GW, a war where your enemy is going to hide behind rocks and trees and fire at will, like the American Revolution, only without the niceties of the Geneva Convention or military etiquette.

We can't do it with a blanket armed force. We'd better come up with a better way.

Women...You Are Not Alone

not_over_it sends along this little item from
Beth Duddy, 46, a restaurant server/artist from San Francisco tends to pull from the paranoid schizophrenic end of the spectrum, i.e., “intense people who like to talk,” often, as it turns out, about their “enemy lists”.

Duddy, whose mother suffered from mental illness, calls herself freak tolerant and admits to being a bit outside the norm, herself.

“I’m college-educated and can put on a business suit and pumps and all that,” she says. “But I’m not afraid to talk to strangers on the street. And it seems that I attract these amusing oddballs and losers. It feels like once I make eye contact with them, it’s all over. They pick up on whatever it is that tells them they can open up their freaky baggage.”

Ginger, on the other hand, tends to attract random — and unwelcome — sexual attention, like the guy on the dance floor who kept unzipping his pants at her or the men who routinely pull over as she’s walking down the street and demand that she “Get in!”

“A lot of the freak encounters I’ve had are about harassment,” she says. “Which, unfortunately, is pretty pervasive in our society. But I think some things happen because I’m social. I’m out there meeting people and I’m open and they sense that and just pounce.”
A lot of women I've talked to over the course of my life will relate similar stories, usually from their teen years. I have a hunch that child predators, the children they prey on, and the sexual "freaks" as described in this article share a lot in common: unresolved sexual conflicts that force them to act out in abnormal ways.

I was fortunate, in some ways, as I was a victim of child molestation and came to deal with it in a wholly organic way and early on in my sexual maturing process (you wouldn't know it to look at me now, but I was the idealized American boy: blonde hair, blue eyes, a Boy Scout, very näive...the list goes on). Others, if my suspicion holds true, were not so lucky.

So how to avoid enounters like these?
According to Steen Halling, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Seattle University, Ginger and Duddy’s assessments aren’t far off. Some people are targeted, either by their body language or their open demeanor.

“If somebody is predatory or exploitive, they’ll have a good eye for people who look vulnerable,” he says. “They’ll look for someone who seems to have self-doubt or who might be sympathetic or who will respond to someone who gives them a lot of attention.”[....]

“It could be that there’s a different level of communication going on,” says Halling, the psychologist. “Something preverbal and unconscious that registers with someone who is psychiatrically disturbed. It brings to mind those cats that have a knack for jumping up on people who have allergies.”
So as a public service, MSNBC posted some "rules of the road," which I'll copy here:
How to freak-proof your life

— Speak up: If anything seems weird, deal with it immediately. Ask if you’re interpreting a comment or situation correctly and if you are, let the person know that they’re acting inappropriately. If it’s sexual interest, tell them immediately that you’re neither available nor interested. If it’s some kind of harassment, speak up. Women are taught to feel afraid, but they need to respond, to say something.

— Be aware: Don’t ever act as if you’re lost or bewildered, instead be purposeful and direct as you move through the world. Be alert and somewhat skeptical of people, although this doesn’t mean you should be untrusting of everyone.

— Trust your gut: If you get an uncomfortable feeling from someone, take it seriously and don’t engage with them. Do this often enough and you’ll get a better sense of your own instincts.
Go read the entire article. You'll see what kind of view Ginger gets from her apartment window...

In a related story on MSNBC:
‘Why Do Men Fall Asleep After Sex?’
Beeeeeeeeeeeeecause we do all the work, usually?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Sugartits Contest

Mel Gibson's recent arrest for DUI has raised an old demeaning remark made about women: "Sugartits".

Sugartits is a phrase I first heard in the 70s, when I was driving from Ithaca, NY, back to the city and we stopped at a diner on Route 17. It was a "pet name" a driver used for the waitress, who laughed along rather than lose a tip.

Obviously, a fairly demeaning phrase, you'll agree.

Anyway, I thought I'd hold a contest: Since Mel re-introduced the word into the vernacular, I was trying to come up with the best application of the word to a Mel Gibson line from a Mel Gibson movie.

To-wit: From Lethal Weapon --
Well, what do you wanna hear, man? Do you wanna hear that sometimes I think about eatin' a bullet? Huh? Well, I do! I even got a special bullet for the occasion with a hollow point, look! Make sure it blows the back of my goddamned head out and do the job right! Every single day I wake up and I think of a reason not to do it! Every single day! You know why I don't do it? This is gonna make you laugh! You know why I don't do it? The job! Doin' the job! Now that's the reason...sugartits!
A dog is a fine meal...sugartits.
(The Patriot)

Have at it!

Object Lesson In Humour

Mrs. Caty was lecturing her third grade class about the ways people are different.

"For example, I'm a Republican, because I believe that Republicans are best suited to protect this country. Who else here is a Republican?"

Immediately, almost all the hands in the class shot up, except for little Jimmy.

"And who here is a Democrat?"

Little Jimmy raised his hand.

"Jimmy, can you explain to us why you're a Democrat?"

"Because my mom is and my dad is."

"For heaven's sake, Jimmy, that's not a good reason! What if your mother and father were morons?"

"Then I'd be a Republican."

Skippy, Of Course You Know, This Means War!

Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo, has the audacity to post that Duck Soup is the funniest movie ever made and that, by extension, the "mirror scene" is the funniest scene ever filmed.

HA! says I! A Night At The Opera is much funnier AND has the ultimate comedy scene of any movie, anytime, anywhere!

World Turning

Iraqis Support Hezbollah; Blast Kills 9

Associated Press Writer

August 3, 2006, 8:23 AM EDT

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Hundreds of followers of a radical Shiite cleric left a southern Iraqi city on Thursday to join a rally in the capital condemning Israeli attacks on Lebanon, while at least nine people were killed by a bombing in the capital.

Also, 13 people were killed or found dead in the latest sectarian violence. [...]

Muqtada al-Sadr, a firebrand anti-U.S. cleric who commands a large militia, has called on his followers from around the country to congregate in Baghdad on Friday after the weekly prayers. The rally, scheduled to be held in the Shiite slum of Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, will show support for the Shiite Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah in its fight against Israel.

Some 20 buses, accompanied by police vehicles, left from the southern city of Basra, carrying young men, mostly unarmed members of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia. Many were draped in the white shrouds that Muslims use to wrap their dead -- a symbol of their willingness to die for Lebanon.
It feels like the storm clouds are gathering and sadly, America isn't the storm-cellar it used to be.

Sadr has stayed conspicuously silent these past few months, laying low, and being generally supportive of the elected government which gave his faction the second-largest bloc of votes in Iraq's parliament.

That seems to be changing now. Coupled with the assessment by out-going British ambassador to Iraq, William Patey, that Iraq is closer to all-out civil war than to a peaceful democratic government, and you can see where this is all headed. Bush has been forced to deploy more troops to Baghdad, which theoretically should be the most secure major city in Iraq for "coalition" forces, and this occupation comes into view as a clear failure.

The only question is, how stubborn does Bush want to be about it? It seems as if he has an ornery streak, but he's also an absolute wimp. Which will win out?

As an American, I can only pray that his wimpitude takes over, as it did on September 11 when he played his shell game, hiding out in practically all fifty states before returning to Washington under cover of darkness. The best course of action we can take now, it seems, is to withdraw our forces, as Sadr's men have taken up Hizbollah's threats to attack Americans everywhere in the world.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hello, I Must Be Going

Marx Brother marathon on Turner Classic Movies tonight.

I'll be on my couch. Or under it, depending on who knocks at the door...

Cue Gary Lewis And The Playboys!

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) - Police in Brazil's remote Amazon state of Rondonia have arrested a man who had 666 rough diamonds stashed in his underpants.

The diamonds, worth about $200,000, were apparently smuggled out of an Indian reservation of the Cinta Larga tribe in Rondonia, a state police spokesman said on Tuesday.

Police stopped the 38-year-old man during a regular road check and became suspicious of his nervousness. After officers found equipment used by jewelers to measure diamonds in his car, they searched the man and found the booty in his briefs.

Illegal diamond miners often prospect on Indian lands, causing deadly conflicts with the indigenous tribes.
So naturally, my mind wandered back to the thrilling days of yesteryear....
Who wants to buy this diamond ring?
He took it out his bunghole now, it doesn't mean a thing
This diamond ring doesn't shine for me anymore
And this diamond ring doesn't mean what it did before
So if you've got someone whose love is true
Let it shine for you

Communal Individuality

There's an interesting article in the new National Geographic magazine, written by Bill McKibben. Although he deals specifically with the problem of global warming and carbon production, as is usually the case with articles like this, it triggered a whole different line of thinking in my head. Entitled "A Deeper Shade Of Green," he takes the environmental movement to task for thinking too small about pollution and warming.

Yes. Too small. I can't link to the article, but let me type up some excerpts:
Precisely the same fuels that gave us our growth now threaten our civilization. Burn a gallon of gas and you release five pounds of carbon into the atmosphere. And as China demonstrates every day, the cheapest way to spur growth is by burning more fossil fuel. Even Benjamin Friedman, the Harvard economist who wrote a brilliant book last year defending the morality of economic growth, conceded that carbon dioxide is the one major environmental contaminant for which no study has ever found any indication of improvement as living standards rise.

Which means we might need a new idea. We need to stop asking, Will this make the economy larger? Instead, we need to start asking, Will this pour more carbon into the atmosphere? Some of the shift would be technological. If carbon carried a real price, then we'd be building windmills far faster than we are now. All cars would be hybrid cars, and all lightbulbs would be compact fluorescent. Every new coal plant would be paying the steep price to separate carbon from its exhaust stream and store it underground. All that would help-- but not enough to meet Hansen's ten-year prognostication (ed. note: Earlier this year, NASA climatologist James Hansen, despite an effort by the Bush administration to gag him, predicted that within ten years, the buildup of CO2 emissions at their current rate would radically change the planet permanently and in ways that might no longer sustain human life.) , not enough to reduce worldwide carbon emissions by the 70 required percent to stabilize the climate at its current level of disruption.

For that to happen, we'd need to change as dramatically as our light bulbs. We'd need to see ourselves differently-- identity and desire would have to shift. Not out of a sense of idealism or asceticism or nostalgia for the 60s. Out of a sense of pure pragmatism.
McKibben goes on to talk about "thinking locally, acting globally" on diverse issues like carpooling, public transportation, McMansions, even food selection (eating only foods grown locally, rather than buying fresh produce year round shipped from other states or countries...he gives the example that it costs 36 calories to grow and ship one head of lettuce from California to the East Coast), as ways we need to rethink how we use energy.

But he also brings up an interesting sociological point, one that's been buzzing around my mind for a few decades now. For want of a better term, let's call it what I've named it: "communal individuality," which I think is a far more global term than McKibben's "convivial environmentalism." In truth, it's a new form of tribalism.

The classic form of tribalism was where a band of related members of a cultural group remained together to assist in establishing a community where people could reproduce and support everyone in the community, "skimming a bit off the top" for themselves but sharing with their neighbors and family. This form of human society existed and thrived for millions of years, quite literally, until the advent of agriculture tied humanity to the very ground. Eventually, as humans are wont to do, staying in one place became boring, and communities began to expand, adventures were had and new lands possessed and tamed. Distance (among other factors) limited how far afield these colonies could move, however, so relatives were close at hand.

Organically over the generations, a new form of community arose, one that valued even smaller groups of individuals taking care of each other, usually in the context of a far larger culture: families existed within nation-states, cities and countries. Still, because distances were a limiting factor, even these communities were fairly close-knit and you could usually count on at least a few relatives nearby to lend a hand.

Skip ahead now to modern times, and the rise of the compass and global exploration. Suddenly, it was possible to settled lands thousands of miles away from your home. Suddenly, you had to rely on old tribal interfaces in order to survive as you and a hardy band of settlers would step on Plymouth rock or the Florida or Virginia coast. Or in India, or Australia, or Asia. Or vice versa, I'm not forgetting their were Asian and Arabic travellers!

Once humanity mastered the planet-- it's a stretch to say that, but let's take the simplistic view that we've settled nearly every conceivable place on earth, our communities began to expand and absorb each other. Villages became towns, towns became cities, and cities became megalopoli, such that you can travel from Boston to Washington and beyond and never once set foot in a forest.

Even intercontinental travel no longer involves days or weeks (unless you're flying from Australia to Edmonton by way of New York City), and I can pick up and move to London as easily as I can pick up and move to Long Island now. Community ties are breached and weakened, and the establishment of "knowability" by your neighbors is practically non-existent (McKibben cites some surveys that indicate that a majority of Americans can't even name their next-door neighbors). Notice that this works two ways: as I am isolated as a stranger from the remnants of the community I live in, where I have little family ties, I tend to shut out that community as well.

People who live in cities, especially gentrifying neighborhoods, see this happening in real time: older residents, who may still have family around, are usually the people you see, sitting on stoops, talking to everyone who passes by, keeping an eye on things. The younger residents, the ones more able to handle the changes of a new domicile, aren't the children and grandchildren of these doyennes et doyens, but strangers. Subsequently, they are less likely to be communal with people to whom they have no connection, thus shut themselves indoors and turn on the TV or the internets and chat with people hundreds and even thousands of miles away.

What happens then is a disconnect and a discord: you have more in common with a girl in California than you have with the old man who lives downstairs. And this is not how humanity evolved: our ties have always been face to face.

What we are witnessing is an evolutionary process taking place in a revolutionary time frame, and with it must come about a new understanding of our planet and ourselves. As travel becomes easier and more frequent and the globe truly does shrink, we need to keep in mind that nation-states are now less important than cities and communities. It will be at the community level that decisions will be made that will impact entire populations outside the community, something pretty much unheard of until recent time (aside from decisions to invade or declare war, or explore on an organized national basis).

The simple act of putting up a power plant in Ohio will impact the air quality of six states and tens of millions of Americans and Canadians. We have to learn to factor that in now. We can no longer afford to ignore the fact that decisions others make impact us directly, far more directly than we imagined.

Which means we need to make decisions as small as possible, to mitigate the widespread effects they may have. If I live in a building, I need to get involved in decisions that affect that building while affecting other buildings as little as possible: solar panel power on the rooftop for example, and try to winnow the building off the electric grid. Plant a garden on the roof to cool me in the summer and insulate me in the winter.

As enough people make decisions like these, the effects will be wide-ranging from the critical mass of decisions made. No one rooftop garden, no one bicyclist, no one windmill on a cul-de-sac, will make the difference on its own. But the influence and power to change minds that one item represents may generate more energy, mental energy, community energy, than all the power plants in the world combined.

We don't just need to think locally, because that implies a zero-sum game, and human behavior is dictated by "winning".

We need to think within the footprint we leave on the street. We need to think that transiently.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

We've Had Ice.... "Fire"

A Blast From The Past

Remember this?

Stay cool, y'inz...

Headlines We'd Like To See


By Scott Stevens

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Frank Church and Sandra State were living together for nine months when they appeared before Judge Horace Belchick on a routine housing zoning matter. They were stunned at what happened next.

Judge Belchick ordered them to agree to separate, immediately.

"We were flabbergasted!" said Frank. "We were sitting there holding hands, very much in love -- and he hit us with this!"

"Separation of church and state is one of our country's bedrock principles," said Judge Belchick. "I won't have them undermining it by flagrant cohabitation."

Tori Appling, a legal analyst who sits in courtrooms in case a reporter ever wants to talk to a legal analyst, said, "With the walls between religion and government crumbling, some officials feel they must draw the line at even the most innocent incidents."

By Calvin Sterling

HELENA, Mont. -- Accountant Ned Otis was constantly impressing his neighbors by singlehandedly adding more rooms, decks, and cabinets to his house.

"I've always had a knack for working with wood and metal," Otis said modestly. "After crunching numbers, I find physical work very relaxing."

However, one day the neighbors awoke to an astonishing sight.

"He was building something on the lawn," said neighbor Gene Beatty. "We didn't want to bother him so we looked at the permit. It said he was building a staircase -- though it didn't seem to lead anywhere."

Otis took vacation time to work on his staircase day and night. After a week the staircase was already twice as high as his house. When he saw a crowd of neighbors gathered on the sidewalk, he realized it was time to satisfy their curiosity.

"I know you've been wondering about what I'm building," he said, walking over. "Well -- I was listening to the radio when it hit me -- I'd build a stairway to heaven."

Everyone just stared at Otis.

"I decided that it would be a challenge," he went on. "Also, I thought it would be the best way to meet the greatest carpenter of them all."

Suddenly, a loud crack ripped through the yard as Otis' staircase toppled to the ground. After a few minutes of awkward silence the crowd dispersed and Otis was left to clean up the debris.

"He took the crash pretty hard," said Beatty. "But we all knew that Otis wasn't the kind of guy to let failure keep him down."

By Dorian Wagner

DRURIDGE BAY, U.K. -- Martini shakers and stirrers everywhere are expected to make a mass exodus to the U.K. after a group of hikers announced they've discovered the Fountain of Vermouth.

Charles Forde, 41, of Manchester, stumbled upon God's gift to the updrink drinker during a camping trip in Northumberland.

"I was looking for wood to start a campfire," Forde told Weekly World News, "but I stumbled on something that warmed us up even better -- an endless supply of the martini mixin.

"At first I thought it was just your regular, run-ofthe- mill bubbling water spout, but the smell was what got me thinking twice," he said. "It was sweet, but strong, so I bent down and took a quick sniff and sip, realized it was dry vermouth, and ran all the way back to the tent to tell everyone else!"

The other campers, William Ackers, 39, and Harry Lamport, 40, also from Manchester, were equally excited about the Fountain of Vermouth. The trio spent the next four days relaxing by the gushing goodness, then staggered home to report their find to the local government.

"Vermouth usually comes from Italy or France, so we were excited that England can get in on the sales too," Forde said.

By Joselyn Masters, Religion Correspondent

PASSAIC, N.J. -- Attention all sports teams and their supporters, those who pray to God before each game for victory:

"The Supreme Being told us he regrets that He can no longer devote time to deciding which team is worthy of winning a sporting contest," said Jeremiah Gottlieb, a spokesman for Unified Voice, an organization that claims to get messages directly from God.

Gottlieb said the Almighty entrusted him with this message after a recent highschool football game between Erasmus High and Dan Quayle High.

"Both teams prayed to Him before the game, which is not unusual. But God said, 'There are great kids on both teams. How am I supposed to pick a favorite?'

"God also said He has nothing to do with who wins an Emmy, a Tony or a Good Citizenship award from the local Rotary Club.

"Frankly, to use a metaphor, God doesn't want to take His eye off the ball," Gottlieb said. "Which is more important, directing a 15-yearold's field goal kick through the uprights or looking after an island being slammed by a hurricane?"

"I thought God could do everything," said weeping 15-year-old field goal kicker Bobby L. O'Heem after missing a game-losing kick. "I guess next time I'll just have to help myself."
Nope. Not the Onion....

My Next Endorsement

Conn. Senate candidates begin final push

31 July, 2006

By SUSAN HAIGH, Associated Press Writer 30 minutes ago

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - After swaying gently to the hymn "God Will Take Care of You," Ned Lamont went the pulpit and asked congregants at the Messiah Baptist Church to break from a three-term incumbent and support his bid for U.S. Senate.

A few miles away, U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman urged those in the Iglesia Cristiana Buen Pastor parish to vote in the Aug. 8 Democratic primary for someone they like and trust.

Lieberman and Lamont are locked in a tight primary race. The most recent Quinnipiac Poll showed Lamont with a slight lead over Lieberman, 51 to 47 percent among likely voters. The survey‘s sampling error margin is plus or minus 4 percentage points. The senator held a 14-point lead in June.
Look, I agree with Alex over at Martini Republic this is hardly the most important race in either the Senate or the House this year, but it is the next race to be decided.

I like Joe Lieberman. He's funny, knowledgable, and seems genuinely like someone I could talk to at a dinner party for a while about a whole host of things. He reminds me of so many friends I laready have: articulate, intelligent, well-read and well-informed.

And while I disagree with Senator Lieberman, I can respect his position on issues such as Iraq as being from his heart and not from some "cookie cutter focus group" (that's not to imply that Ned Lamont suffers from that).

Call it a kiss, call it a whisper in the ear, Lieberman didn't exactly endear himself to the Democratic rank and file by cozying up to the President so blatantly. Neither was his comment, à la Britney Spears, that we should just, like, trust the President because, you know, we're in a war and we elected him to do this jobbbbbbb, omigod!

Or words to that effect. Aside from this issue, Lieberman has demonstrated an annoying habit of being wrong on other important issues. Like Judge Sam Alito, and opposing the filibuster effort so vociferously. Or supporting school vouchers and the administration's energy "bill" (really, a hand out to Big Oil).

I can't in good conscience support this decent man, not in a time when elections are stolen and political knives are being sharpened.

Vote Ned Lamont on August 8th. He sees what I see: America's problems at home can't be solved with a war abroad that we started.

Monday, July 31, 2006


....her honkers aren't big enough:
(hat tip to Shakespeare's Sister)

Strange Bedfellows

UK, Calif. to Strike Global Warming Deal

Associated Press Writer

July 31, 2006, 8:02 AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- Britain and California are preparing to sidestep the Bush administration and fight global warming together by creating a joint market for greenhouse gases.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plan to lay the groundwork for a new trans-Atlantic market in carbon dioxide emissions, The Associated Press has learned. Such a move could help California cut carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases scientists blame for warming the planet. President Bush has rejected the idea of ordering such cuts.

Blair and Schwarzenegger were expected to announce their collaboration Monday afternoon in Los Angeles, according to documents provided by British government officials on condition of anonymity because the announcement was forthcoming.

The aim is to fix a price on carbon pollution, an unwanted byproduct of burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gasoline. The idea is to set overall caps for carbon and reward businesses that find a profitable way to minimize their carbon emissions, thereby encouraging new, greener technologies.
Keeping in mind that California's economy is one of the largest in the world, dwarfing even entire nations, and you can see why this is a fairly important step.

Lest you think this is in violation of some Federal power to enact treaties, this is a commercial deal, meaning the Federal government is going to have to remain hands-off about this, or they'll have to jump through a hoop to stop it (which I don't think they will, to be honest).

Essentially, this deal represents what the Kyoto accords were to produce: a global "carbon credit" market where developed nations would buy excess carbon production credits from less developed (and therefore, less polluting nations), the payments used to generate economic development and to leapfrog the fossil fuel stage of energy production in lesser-developed nations.

How it would work is, a "carbon ceiling" would be set for a nation (or in this case, state), usually based on some recent level of production, say the amount produced in 2000. This ceiling would gradually be lowered on all nations as the treay progressed.

For industrialized nations, this ceiling would be the actual amount produced. For less developed nations, it would be some factor above that level. Nations who produced more than their allotment would be fined, and less, would receive credits for carbon production that they could sell on an open market. The payments to less developed nations would obviously be less than the fines imposed on over-producing nations, so that's where the action would be.

It's interesting that Blair has proposed this, as one sticking point between the US and Great Britain has been Bush idiotic stubborness ignorance intransigence on doing anything about global warming, despite his own admission that it exists, that human activity is responsible for a large part of it, and that Americans are responsible for more than their share of the human addition to it.

Blair has, without fail, raised this issue each year, and each year has been rebuffed by America. Apparently, he's decided to circumvent the White House "brain trust" and utilize the very tool the White House cannot control, the free market.

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Can't We All Just Get Along?

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Funnies

(Hat Tip To Miss Cellania)

Sunday Sermon

Founded in 1978 by five Catholic lay people called by their faith to "welcome the stranger," organizers believe Annunciation House is the only center on the U.S.-Mexico border devoted specifically to housing undocumented immigrants shortly after their arrival in the United States. Many guests show up dazed, dehydrated, hungry and sick after walking for days in the desert. Others are still wet from crossing the Rio Grande.

"It's a huge help for those who come here with nothing," said Silvia, 44, who did not want her last name used because she is in the country illegally. "I never imagined it existed."

Though some community members praise Annunciation House's work and see its founder and executive director Ruben Garcia as something of a local saint, their work is not without controversy.

It is taking place amid heated debate throughout the country about illegal immigration, including legislation aimed at making presence in the United States without proper documentation and aiding undocumented immigrants crimes. Congressional leaders are holding hearings nationwide this summer about proposed reform legislation, while President George W. Bush is dispatching 6,000 National Guardsmen to the U.S.-Mexico perimeter to beef up enforcement efforts with the U.S. Border

In contrast, the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have backed church workers' assistance to impoverished undocumented immigrants as part of their Christian duty. In March, Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles declared he would instruct his priests to defy any law that would make such work illegal.
PHOENIX -- The youngest son of Sen. John McCain has joined the Marine Corps and could be deployed to a war zone in a matter of months, according to a magazine report.

Jimmy McCain, 18, will begin basic training in September. He'll spend three months in boot camp and undergo a month of specialized training before being assigned to a unit.
Putting your money where your mouth is.

Let's ponder these for a moment.

In thirty years, when Jimmy McCain is running for Congress from Arizona, how likely is it that the son of Karl Rove (assuming he's a breeder....*whistling*) will run campaign ads smearing the younger McCain's service in Iraq or Afghanistan as "front running grandstanding" and finding the equivalent of a Swift Boat veteran to testify that instead of incredible bravery, Jimmy McCain was an abject coward?

By the way, I realize this enlistment also burnishes McCain's portfolio for the 2008 election, but even I have a hard time believing that he'd sacrifice a son in the pursuit of higer office.

Speaking of sacrificing sons, that a Christian group is willing to peacefully defy not only the law but the anger of the vigilante groups attempting to enforce the law is how a godly church should behave, and kudos to Annunciation House for their efforts.

Shared sacrifice is what made this nation great, that and the "rugged individualism" (in quotes, because truly, there is no rugged individualism without a strong society that supports it, therefore rugged individualism is a misnomer.) inherent in exploration and expansion of this nation.

We've seen very little of these values lately: to stand up for what's right in the face of even the most overwhelming odds against you.

What's that you say? Bush has displayed those characteristics? "Stay the course", doing what he believes is right?

HA! W has acted like a wimp from his first day in office to the last day he takes a dump and scratches around the litterbox in January 2009 (should he last that long)! He has lied, cheated, and stolen to get his "agenda" such as it is manuevered into place over our heads like the Sword of Damocles, and now that the string has frayed prematurely-- Reagan at least had the decency to be out of office before the ghastly rapes of his administration had become apparent-- he's dancing to any tune and incantation to try to keep that sword from falling.

Fortunately, it seems we as a people have come a long way to clearing the cobwebs from our heads and the crust from our eyes, waking up to find that things are not hunkydory, that shopping didn't help us after 9/11, and that Iraq was the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So to see individuals and institutions that should be putting up rather than shutting up does my heart some good.

In the name of the father...

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He Created A Monster

....and now he's whining that the villagers are trying to torch his castle while the monster destroys their village!

Agitprop has this thing about hypocrites....

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