Saturday, June 17, 2006

Every Summer We Could Rent A Cottage In The Isle Of Wight

Thank you, Sir Paul, and a very Happy Birthday!

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Has Google Gone Too Far?

Certainly. Google is an amazingly helpful site and has assisted me more times than I care to count (so much so that one of the first links I posted on my blog, which is sited on a Google server, was a search box).

And kudos to Google for making money hand over fist for providing such a valuable service. But I began to get a frisson of....ickiness...when I realized I could type a phone number into the search box and get someone's address.

That creeped me out. Imagine finding a slip of paper on the ground, or a number on a bathroom wall and actually stalking that person. You see what I mean.

But now add to that Google Maps and Google Earth, and things really get creepy for me....

How YOU Can Help Stop Global Warming Today

While researching an earlier story about global warming (and I wish I could recall which story it was, so I could link to it), I mentioned this site:

By going there and calculating your "carbon footprint," you can donate to an amount roughly equal to the dollar value of a "carbon credit" for our usage. This offset will be used to advance alternative energy research, technology and implementation to reduce carbvon emissions.

You'd be tempted to "buy" your way to a polluting future, but the system works such that the less carbon you emit, the less you have to donate (by the way, this is effectively the individual application of the Kyoto Treaty. By paying for your carbon emissions, you assist others in leapfrogging carbon emissions altogether, or at least implementing cleaner energy generation, which is more expensive, until alternative energy scales down in cost.)

In addition to this, most utilities now offer some form of "Green Power" purchasing. Sure, it costs a few bucks more, but the way gas and oil prices are rising, that differential is being wiped out quickly. So far, I've bought wind power and solar power. Once New York City institutes the tidal force generation they've toyed with, I will purchase that first and foremost.

All this is in addition to some simple things you can do around your house: buy mini-fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent, and for heaven's sake, shut down the computer and air conditioning when you don't need them. Unplug the "always in standby" appliances that you don't use daily. Walk or bike to the corner store for that gallon of milk. You know all the stuff, you don't need some jackass lecturing you on a saturday about it.

But I wanted to post a reminder that, as we get into the silly season of blackouts and brownouts and rolling outages and heat and humdity, it's more important now than ever before to save energy and to save the earth.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Lewis Black's New HBO Special!

Lewis talks about gay marriage.

(hat tip to Shakespeare's Sister for posting this first)

World Cup Update

Thursday, 15 June

Ecuador 3 Costa Rica 0

Ecuador advanced to the knockout round of the World Cup for the first time, beating a game Costa Rican side, scoring in the 8th minute on a header by Carlos Tenorio, and salting the game away in the 54th minute on a pass from Edison Mendez on a throw-in to Agustin Delgado, who took the ball off his chest and smashed home a right foot shot past Jose Porras. In stoppage time, Ivan Kaviedes added insult to injury by slamming home a cross at the far post from Mendez. Kaviedes then donned a yellow Spiderman mask he had concealed in his sock.

England 2 Trinidad & Tobago 0

England became the third team in the tournament to secure a knockout round berth with their second win, but it wasn't pretty. England struggled mightily, pressing their advantage in talent but coming up empty. T&T managed to disrupt the flow of the game and the English rhythm for almost all of regulation time, despite the insertion of the player every English fan had been waiting to suit up, Wayne Rooney, the spectacular scorer for Manchester United. Then, in the 83rd minute, 6' 7" Peter Crouch headed a ball in off a David Beckham cross, four feet above the defender's head. Sadly, Crouch did not do his world famous Robot Dance. Eight minutes later, Crouch's Liverpool teammate, Steven Gerrard, slashed a left foot shot high into the netting to secure England's berth.

Sweden 1 Paraguay 0

Uncharacteristically for a country not known for its flashy play, Sweden went toe-to-toe with the Paraguayan side in end to end action, apparently abandoning defense. The score was tied at 0-0 until the 89th minute, when Arsenal striker, Freddie Ljunberg, swept a headed pass from Marcus Allback past Aldo Bobadilla. The second round matches in the preliminary tournament have been shaping up to be heart attacks apparent.
Friday, 16 June

Argentina 6 Serbia And Montenegro 0

The score says all you need to know about this match. Argentina scored early and often, and the Serbian/Montenegran side was exhausted by the end of the match.

Netherlands 2 Ivory Coast 1

Goals by Robert van Persie and Ruud van Nistelroy in the first half put the Netherlands up big. Ivory Coast struggled to break through to the Dutch goal for the rest of the game, but came up short as Bakary Kone scored in the 38th minute to make the score almost as exciting as the game, which featured a lot of fouls by the Netherlands and lots of close-in chance from the Ivory Coast. The Netherlands join Argentina as qualifiers for the knockout round from Group C.

Mexico 0 Angola 0

Mexico stormed out of the gate with what was likely the earliest shot on goal in the tournament so far, in the first minute of play, perhaps hoping to catch the Angolan goal keeper, Ricardo Joao, napping, but Carlos Salcido's shot sailed high. Mexico had better ball possession and shot selection, still unable to put the ball in the net, while Angola stormed down the field and shot from wild and difficult angles and distances. Angola, through sheer luck and some untimely play by Mexico, held on for the 0-0 tie despite being down a man on a red card to André in the 79th minute.

Stone Knives And Bearskins

Army admits a shortage
Acknowledges not all soldiers in combat have lifesaving bandages but pledges to increase supply

Newsday Washington Bureau

June 16, 2006

WASHINGTON - After initially downplaying a shortage of the special anti-bleeding bandages available to troops in Iraq, a senior Army officer acknowledged yesterday that some soldiers are in combat without the potentially lifesaving field dressings.

Maj. Gen. Stephen Speakes, director of force development, told a congressional panel that only medics and other lifesaving personnel were equipped with the essential clotting bandages, as suggested by the surgeon general of the Army. But other combat troops have been requesting them as well, and he said the Army is committed to supplying them quickly.
So lemme see...we send unarmored troops in unarmored Hummers into the field against an enemy that really isn't going to play "nice", partly because we aren't playing nice and respecting trivial little treaties like the Geneva Convention, and these troops get ambushed and shot at, and they end up shooting civilians, women and children, and we don't even get them the necessary tools to patch themselves up and head back out onto the battlefield?

My god, next war, let's just send them out with peashooters and slingshots. Why should this paragraph be factual in the 21st Century?
The lack of the bandages is especially pressing given that military officials say most troops who die in battle bleed to death before they reach hospital facilities, and that the bandages could curb the number of fatalities.
We reached the milestone of 2,500 dead American soldiers in Iraq. Let's take "most" at its most conservative and say 51% could have lived with these dressings. We would have cut our dead by 50%! Oh, but I forget, as King George II Edward the Longshanks says in "Braveheart":
Not the archers. My scouts tell me their archers are miles away and no threat to us. Arrows cost money. Use up the Irish. Their dead cost nothing.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Is Ann Coulter Really A Drag Queen?

Strap-on Veterans For Truth seems to think so. But you decide:

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(major hat tip to Miss Cellania)

Not A Job I'd Want

Bulls get simulated cows at farmers' fair

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Live "sex shows" of bulls mounting a simulated cow have become a big attraction at an agricultural exhibition taking place in New Zealand.

The fake 'cow' -- a small go-kart with natural cowhide on its roof -- was developed by Ambreed New Zealand Ltd. to collect semen from bulls more safely and efficiently and improve artificial breeding of cows.
As David Letterman said last night, it's good to see Ann Coulter get a job. This isn't so bad, although I marvel at the...purient interest...exhibited by New Zealanders.

I've always thought it was sheep that were supposed to be nervous down there...anyway, I digress:
The go-kart, driven by a human operator, draws close to a bull and adjusts to the proper height.[...]

Bull semen is commonly obtained using a rubber device known as an artificial vagina which is put in place manually by two handlers.
So there are two guys in this go-kart and what makes this really an ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! moment for me is, well, first off, wouldn't by definition a rubber vagina be artificial and second, what if it falls off?

I mean, it's one thing to get a facial from a porn star, but a bull????? Altho I hear it'll clear your acne right up!

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Thursday Humour

A lady walks into a drug store and tells the pharmacist she needs some cyanide.

The pharmacist said, "Why in the world do you need Cyanide?"

The lady then explained she needed it to poison her husband.

The pharmacist's eyes got big and he said, "Lord, have mercy -- I can't give you cyanide to kill your husband! That's against the law! I'll lose my license; they'll throw both of us in jail and all kinds of bad things will happen! Absolutely not, you can NOT have any Cyanide?"

The lady reached into her purse and pulled out a picture of her husband in bed with the pharmacist's wife.

The pharmacist looked at the picture and replied, " Well, now. You didn't tell me you had a prescription."

An Insight Into Bush

By now, you've either read about or seen this exchange between President Bush and Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Wallsten:
Wallsten is, of course, blind.

But now, the rest of the story. In it, we find out two interesting tidbits about Bush, from which I'm going to draw conclusions:
Bush Apologizes to Times Reporter for Making Fun of His Sunglasses

Bush called on Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Wallsten and asked if he was going to ask his question with his "shades" on.

"For the viewers, there's no sun," Bush said to the television cameras.[...]

Wallsten said Bush called his cell phone later in the day to apologize and tell him that he didn't know he had the disease. Wallsten said he interrupted and told the president that no apology was necessary and that he didn't feel offended since he hadn't told anyone at the White House about his condition.

"He said, 'I needle you guys out of affection,"' Wallsten said. "I said, 'I understand that, but I don't want you to treat me any differently because of this."'[...]

Wallsten said he thought that was a pretty good line. And his only complaint is that the president didn't answer his question at the news conference.
Actually, three points to note about Bush.

1) Why did he feel the need to explain to the audience that it wasn't sunny? They were sitting right there, and even on camera, it's fairly obvious that it's not particularly sunny. (A side note: it does make what transpires even more ironically embarassing and nothing speaks to me of a strong nation than a jerk leading it.)

2) He called to apologize. Full marks for that. But you'll notice something else. "I needle you guys out of affection." I disagree. Bush needles out of a deep desire to bully people. He rationalizes this bullying by saying "But it's all in good fun!" And it well may be funny, but you know what? He's the president. They're reporters dependent on his good graces to do their job. This is a classic power imbalance and harassment situation. This entire administration has been based on bullying, whether it's reporters, Joseph Wilson, John Kerry, Iraq, Iran or what have you. If you are even POSSIBLE antagonists, this administration will do its level best to demolish you. And it starts at the top.

3) This point is reinforced by Wallsten's observation that Bush never answered his question. But this also speaks to the "Wimp Factor" that I posted about a little over a month ago. Bush really dislikes direct questions. Since the video doesn't not go that long, let's look at the transcript:
Q Following up on the other Peter's question about Karl Rove, you said that you were relieved with what happened yesterday. But the American public, over the course of this investigation, has learned a lot about what was going on in your White House that they didn't know before, during that time, the way some people were trying to go after Joe Wilson, in some ways. I'm wondering if, over the course of this investigation, that you have learned anything that you didn't know before about what was going on in your administration. And do you have any work to do to rebuild credibility that might have been lost?

THE PRESIDENT: I think that -- first of all, the decision by the prosecutor speaks for itself. He had a full investigation. Karl Rove went in front of the grand jury like -- I don't -- a lot of times. More times than -- they took a hard look at his role.

Secondly, as I told the other Peter, I'm going to tell you, that there's an ongoing trial, it's a serious business. And I've made the comments I'm going to make about this incident, and I'm going to put this part of the situation behind us and move forward.

Let's see here -- yes, sure. Richard.
Yup. He ducked a softball question, alright.

The wimp.

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Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Funniest. Vlog. Ever.

Good ol' Pamela Atlass...

Note where she is sitting. Note the position. Note where her hands almost always gravitate to after she's mimed a hand job in the air.

Do you think any of her "minions" ever even noticed the enormous number of pillows on her bed?

Pam, as an actor to an, um, "actress" (yea, hookers count): stop blinking, sit still for Christ sake, and your hair?

Lose it.

Better yet, stop inflicting your immature idiocies on the rest of the world, and get a fucking husband.

Why American Media Rots To The Core...

I know. You're thinking "WooHoo!":
News Corp to muster all units for "Simpsons" film

By Georg Szalai Wed Jun 14, 2:08 AM ET
NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - In the months before 20th Century Fox launches its big-screen version of "The Simpsons" next year, parent company News Corp. plans to muster every part of its entertainment empire to promote the film, president and chief operating officer Peter Chernin said Tuesday.

In so doing, News Corp. will maximize the marketing muscle of its various divisions while allowing them to benefit from the halo effect of the popular cartoon franchise, Chernin explained.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Media & Telecommunications Conference that was available via Web cast, Chernin said News Corp. held a three-hour meeting last week with about 40 executives from across the company, including its licensing, home video, book, satellite TV and broadcast network operations from around the world, as well as the film's executive producer, James L. Brooks, to discuss broader strategies related to the film's release.
Your first reaction was probably, "Simpsons movie? Awriiiiiight!"

And then I thought a bit about this headline: News Corp. That also includes, well Fox News. And various newspapers across the country.

And I began to think about how Rupert Murdoch will pander to both the neo-con christofascist element AND the low-brow Neaderthalic elements of this country, and remembered that Murdoch will pimp the Simpsons movie in ways that will make thinking people cringe.

Bad news for Bush one morning? No problem: Banner headline in the New York Post reads "230 Days To Simpsons' Movie" and in the lower left in the tiniest possible print Bush indictment handed up.

See where I'm going with this?

The American audience is, let's face facts, a herd of sheep. Marshall McLuhan once pointed out that TV is a "cold" medium, in that it involved little or no participation from the audience. Just sit. And watch. And imbibe the stream of information being fed to you.

The entertainment divisions ran with this so fast it wasn't even funny. How else do you explain the "Beverly Hillbillies" or "My Mother, The Car"?

It wasn't until the news divisions were incorporated by all the networks into the profit center of the entertainment division that suddenly American information channels collapsed. Add to that the abhorrent amount of money invested by certain political factions who can afford to spend it in buckets to keep the status quo, and now you understand why the biggest story "Dateline" can break in the 21st Century is a seventeen part (and counting) series on PEDOPHILES! *cue startling and eerie music*

Or ABC can actually devote an entire hour of prime time to "Doc-TAH Billy Graham's CROOsade!".

News has become a joke in this country, and I'm afraid that we have lost quite a bit for that. Yes, the Internet will provide all the information you need, packaged and delivered, but nearly half the country thinks the Internet is what fishermen use to catch medium size fish, and half of those who use the 'Net think it's all about the pr0n.

That you're reading this tells me you know better. Whether you agree with me on most issues or none, isn't important. What's important is you see the yawning gap and are determined to do better by yourself.

Good for you. Now go tell five friends.

Wednesday World Cup Report

The World Cup finally lives up to the hype!

Tuesday, June 13

Korea 2 Togo 1

Togo was the least likely of any country to field a World Cup squad and yet, here they are, beating out traditional African powerhouses like Nigeria and the Congo. Unfortunately, they ran into a buzzsaw of a Korean team after drawing first blood in the 31st minute on a goal by Mohamed Kader, which hit the post before careening in. In the 53rd minute, Togo was forced to play ten men as Jean-Paul Abalo was sent off with his second yellow card of the match for a tackle just outside the edge of the penalty box. The ensuing free kick from Chun Soo Lee was the equalizer for Korea. Twenty minutes later, Jung Hwan Ang slid a looping shot over the Togan goal keeper, Kogi Agassa.

France 0 Switzerland 0

I must confess that this game features my favorite player, Thierry Henry, arguably the best player in the world. France is shedding ghosts of its 2002 disappointment (she won in 1998, but then lost every game in the defense in 2002, not even scoring a goal). France pressed its game against a passionless Swiss team that seemed reluctant to even shoot the ball, perhaps fearing scuff marks on their boots. Perhaps their vaunted neutrality isn't just limited to warfare and diplomacy? The closest the Swiss came to scoring in the first half was on a missed corner kick that tickled off the inside of the French goalpost in the 26th accident! But France was infected with the dispassionate play of the Swiss and the game, fairly boring, lingered on like the dying rich aunt that no one liked, into four minutes of extra time. Still no score. No life. Nothing.

Brazil 1 Croatia 0

As expected, this game featured free-wheeling play and basically no defense except for the goal posts. Brazil departed from character early on, and swung long wild passes upfield, rather than rely on footspeed and ball control. Just at half time, Kaka drove home a wonderful strike into the upper left corner of the goal, and beat the Croatian keeper, Stipe Pletikosa. The Croatians pressed the attack in the second half, and Brazil responded by altering their game to be more close in to goal on the attack. This game even included a fan running out onto the pitch. A very exciting and fun game to watch, in sharp counterpoint to the France-Switzerland match earlier.

Wednesday, June 14

Spain 4 Ukraine 0

No surprises here, Spain is a powerhouse in European soccer, and passed the United States for the number 5 ranking in the world. Spain had 19 shots to Ukraine's 5 and dominated play from whistle to whistle, scoring their first goal at 13 minutes on a header by Alonso Xabi off a corner kick, and then again four minutes later on a free kick from David Villa which deflected off the Wall. A penalty kick in the 48th minute by Villa and a quick goal by Fernando Torres in the 81st minute sealed the game off.

Tunisia 2 Saudi Arabia 2

WOW! Perhaps the most exciting game of the tourney, with two goals scored in the last eight minutes of play! Plenty of fouls in this hard fought game which saw two yellow cards handed out to Tunisia within a minute of each other. Tunisia fought off some intense Saudi pressure in the 23rd minute, and an acrobatic goal by Zied Jaziri broke the scoring drought as he went horizontal at about shoulder level to slap the ball home for Tunisia. The second half saw Yasser Al Kahtani pull the Saudis level in the 56th minute off a quick, low pass just at the top of the penalty box, drilling a shot into the roof of the net. In the 84th minute, the Saudis went end to end and on a beautiful finishing pass, Sami Al Jaber shanked a shot that hopped over the outstretched foot of Tunisian keeper Ali Boumnijel. Boumnijel came up big as the game slipped into stoppage time with what may be the save of the tournament off a deflected free kick. Tunisia then turned around and in a flurry of passing in front of the Saudi goal, Jaidi Radha headbutted a perfect pass from Zied Jaziri to tie the game just ahead of the final whistle. Who said soccer is boring?

Germany 1 Poland 0

Two European soccer superpower collided in this second match of the preliminary round, although Poland have not beaten Germany in World Cup play and in preliminary action, were 1-0-1 against Germany and did not score a goal. The first half ended in a tie, despite numerous chances for Germany, and some unlucky bounces for the Poles. In the 92nd minute, Germany finally broke a 0-0 tie as David Odnokor slid a cross over to Oliver Neuville who slipped it past goal keeper Artur Boruc as the home crowd went wild.

Nonpartisan Humour

Two gators were sitting at the side of the swamp near Washington, DC.

The smaller one turned to the bigger one and said, "I can't understand how you can be so much bigger n me. We're the same age, we was the same size as kids. I just don't get it."

"Well," said the big gator, "What you been eatin boy?"

"Politicians, same as you," replied the small gator.

"Hmm. Well, where do yall catch em?"

"Down to the side of the swamp near the parkin lot by the Capitol."

"Same here Hmm. How do you catch 'em?"

"Well, I crawls up under one of them Lexus and wait fer one to unlock the car door. Then I jump out, grab 'em on the leg, shake the shit out of 'em, and eat 'em!"

"Ah!" says the big alligator, "I think I see your problem. You ain't gettin' any real nourishment. See, by the time you get done shakin' the shit out of a politician, there ain't nothin' left but an asshole and a briefcase."

We Got A Little Gas...

This is an issue that will reverberate around the country as oil prices firm up around the $70 a barrel level, and natural gas prices climb higher in response.
Troubled waters
Citing an old state law, Levy seeks to ban liquefied gas facilities such as one proposed by Broadwater Energy

Newsday Staff Writer

June 14, 2006

Citing an 1881 state law, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy yesterday filed local legislation aimed at barring a liquefied natural gas facility in the Long Island Sound like the $700-million project proposed by Broadwater Energy.

A top Broadwater official promptly branded the proposal "a gimmick" -- and maintained that under federal law, the county lacks the power to intervene in the project.

But legislative resistance to the 1,200-foot-long offshore terminal is mounting on other fronts, with growing concerns for possible safety and environmental problems. Assemb. Thomas DiNapoli (D-Great Neck) and Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) have proposed a bill that would require new protections of coastal waters and block the secretary of commerce from overruling New York's secretary of state on such projects, who oversees the state's coastal program, on how those protections are established.
So what precisely is this project in question?

An offshore LNG facility, where liquified natural gas would be shipped in, and warmed up until it became gaseous and therefore able to travel down a pipeline.

Where is this gas coming from? Ahhhhhhhhh, there's the nub. See, the US has some of the biggest natural gas reserves on the planet, but with the price of oil (until recently) very cheap, there was no short-term (read: profitable) incentive to develop the fields, or refineries or pipelines (some of you using MCI long distance service actually have your telephone calls routed down old gas lines).

This gas would come from abroad. Now, this project is not happening in a vacuum. Already being constructed are two pipelines from eastern Canada that presumably will deliver sufficient natural gas to the region for it's anticipated growth in demand. A report released by Synapse Energy Economics back in January indicates that applying conservation and efficiency programs already in existence could provide for 75% of that growth through 2015, so coupled with the two new pipelines, would be more than sufficient for meeting New York and Connecticut's gas needs.

Further, a proposed pipeline from northern New Jersey, which already has LNG facilities in place and gas refineries (thus that smell by exits 10 and 11 on the Turnpike) could combine with these protocols to provide energy well into the mid-21st Century.

And this is before taking into consideration any environmental and security impacts of the project. While this facility would not be anchored into the sea bed (it would be a man-made island) there are navigation concerns, as well concerns about manfactured alterations to the barrier reef islands that protect Long Island from storm surges and strong ocean surf.

Believe me, with global warming raising the sea levels and hurricanes becoming more frequent and therefore more likely to directly impact Long Island, this is no small concern.

The obscure law that Executive Levy has cited is "Chapter 695 of the Laws of 1881," which extends Suffolk County's jurisdiction over the "Waters of Long Island Sound." Although this facility would be built on the other side of Long Island, Levy believes he can convince a court that the act was intended to protect the tidal waters of Long Island.

My sense is that this facility is going to be built, but if Levy and others, including environmental groups, can put up enough roadblocks, it is conceivable that Broadwater will fold its tents and leave.

Not a bad thing, in this case.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Big News

A couple of weeks later than I thought it would be, but nevertheless, it has officially happened.



It is with GREAT pride and extreme pleasure that I can announce that your favorite blog and mine, "Simply Left Behind", has been syndicated to actual living breathing news organizations worldwide.

You can find it here, at Malibu, California's only daily newspaper, here, at Internationalist Magazine, and here, at New York News, a round up of all the important news coming out of New York City.

In addition to my blog being shared by these three fine news outlets, I am writing original pieces for PCH Press and the Internationalist.

You may resume blogging now. :-)

P.S. Careful readers of "Simply Left Behind" may recall the contest I had to rename this blog. That was a bit of a smokescreen, I confess, as I was really trying to come up with a name for my Internationalist Mag blog, which is called "Soup With A Fork," to honor how I do things the hard way.

Write Your Own Caption!

Money's Thicker Than Blood

Bush: We stand with Iraq
Newsday Washington Bureau
June 13, 2006

THURMONT, Md. -- Convening his war council here yesterday, President George W. Bush avoided pledging any new financial aid to Iraq but instead urged Iraq's neighbors to share the burden and Iraqis to tap into their oil wealth.

"The message to the Iraqi government is that we stand with you," Bush said at Camp David, pledging to stay in Iraq until the fractured nation could "govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself."
Why is this newsworthy?

After alienating Iraq's neighbors, like Iran, or Syria, does bush seriously think that we're going to see a lot of money flowing into Iraq now? Even Saudi Arabia, which you would think owes us a few favors, is going to be hesitant to help make good on the $13 billion dollars pledged to rebuilding Iraq that regional governments made many years ago. You know, that whole "Wahhabist vs. Shi'ite" thing...

More telling than this is this quote from the article:
Bush sidestepped a question about whether last week's killing of terror chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would hasten the departure of 132,000 U.S. troops - a question aides insisted wasn't even formally debated here.
While scrupulously avoiding mentioning any new commitments of funding (the US this year alone has nearly exhausted $18 billion earmarked for rebuilding, which is why Bush is hat-in-hand), Bush made it clear that troops, American blood, would remain in harm's way.
Bush yesterday urged the fledgling Iraqi government to find ways to increase Iraq's oil production, still lagging at pre-war levels, and divide up the revenue "in a fair way" for projects to benefit the nation.

"My own view is that the government ought to use the oil as a way to unite the country, ... so the people have faith in central government," Bush said.
Which of course, would be great, except that divvying up the oil revenues has been one of the, if not the major sticking point in forming a new government and has seen that government, elected months ago, stagger to filling even key security posts. Remember, Shi'ites don't trust Sunnis, Sunnis don't trust Shi'ites, and no one really trusts the Kurds.

You'll recall that Paul Wolfowitz, the long-departed war hawk, claimed before the war that it would cost $87 billion dollars and that we would be repaid out of Iraq oil revenues (which of course was precisely the wrong thing to say as it raised the spectre of war-for-oil).

Bush has now reiterated that point, but it seems an unlikely goal: oil is what divides this country. Further, surrounding nations like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are unlikely to assist in bringing a competitor up to speed, particularly one with such an entrenched Shi'ite population.

This was has been bungled since the beginning. The good news is, its only mismanaged now.

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Monday, June 12, 2006

World Cup Recap, Part II

Sunday, 11 June

Netherlands 1 Serbia/Montenegro 0

An early goal in the 18th minute from Arjen Robben off a beautiful feed from Robert van Persie was the only goal in a game that featured some sloppy backline play by the Netherlands and some curious offense by SMT. In the first half, SMT relied on long-ball desperation passing, which was easily corralled by the Dutch midfield and defense. Once SMT began to play short stroke passing, they made an honest threat on the Dutch goal, forcing goal keeper Edwin van der Sar to make some athletic saves and to withstand a pressurized assault on his net.

Mexico 3 Iran 1

In only their third World Cup win on European soil, Mexico took advantage of a late mental error by the Iranian goal-keeper, Ebrahim Mirzapour to grab a quick lead and then sealed it on a third goal by Brazilian-born Zinha less than three minutes later. Two goals were scored by Omar Bravo. The sole Iranian goal was by Yahya Golmohammadi. Easily the most entertaining match of the first weekend until the 79th minute, Iran and Mexico both played aggressive offense and defense, and both keepers, Mirzapour and Oswaldo Sanchez, were tested. This game also contained a game outside the game, as Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had promised to attend the game in Nuremberg, the site of the Nazi war crimes trials. Ahmadinejad had denied the Holocaust had happened. Another unusual game-outside-the-game saw a massive Mexican controversy regarding the importation of a coach and two of the national team's players, replacing two native born Mexicans, coming on the heels of the Mexican outrage at the new wave of anti-immigration feeling in the United States. In addition, keeper Sanchez' father died unexpectedly on Wednesday, and Sanchez had only just arrived back on German soil Saturday morning.

Portugal 1 Angola 0

In what was nearly a repeat of Saturday's England victory, Portugal struck early, three minutes in, on a lovely run by Luis Figo, who then flicked a short pass to Pauletta who dropped the ball into the back of the net. Portugal then sat back and nursed the one goal to victory in what was a very physical game from a fiesty Angolan team, led by their captain Akwa, and striker Mantorras. This is also the first time that Portugal have faced their former colony Angola in World Cup play.

Monday, 12 June

Australia 3 Japan 1

For the first time in 24 years, a team from Oceania is playing in the World Cup (New Zealand, 1982). Australia has a winning history against Japan, but Japan jumped into the lead at 26 minutes in when Nakamura Shunsuke got a bit of an assist from his teammate Takahara Naohiro, who prevented Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from cleanly fielding the ball Nakamura played into the box. Australia played a desperate, physical second half against a Japanese side that had withdrawn into a defensive shell, aware that their next match is against powerhouse and tournament top-seed Brazil, and finally broke through in the 87th minute to score their first ever World Cup goal and then at the 89th minute, both from Tim Cahill, to secure their first ever World Cup victory and to almost ensure their advancement to the elimination round. A goal from John Aloisi in extra time was icing on the cake. Remember, goal differential (goals scored versus goals given up) will be the first tiebreaker in detemining who advances, so Australia was smart to pile up another score.

Czech Republic 3 United States 0

In what was a must-win for US hopes to advance to the elimination round, the US didn't and quite spectacularly, despite being seeded fifth in the tournament. See you in four years!

Italy 1 Ghana 0

What should have been a cakewalk for the Italians (ranked #13 to Ghana's #48) saw a valiant effort by Ghana. Italy jumped out to a lead in the 40th minute, as Andrea Pirlo deflected a short corner kick just past the goal keeper's reach in the low left corner. This match featured many near misses and could just as easily have been a blowout for either team. Vicenzo Iaquinta iced the game in the 83rd minute, intercepting a horribly short-sighted pass by defender Samuel Kuffour and faked goal keeper Richard Kingston out of his boots.

The Nexus Of Two Societal Issues

What do you get when you cross LGBT baby boomers reaching the age where they need assisted-living facilities?
Aging gays fuel specialized housing market

By LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer
Sat Jun 10, 6:28 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - Like other gay men in their golden years, Jack Norris and Seymour Sirota had heard the horror stories.

An elderly lesbian couple is housed on separate floors of a nursing home and kept from seeing each other. A gay retired college professor feels compelled to keep his sexual orientation a secret after his roommate at an assisted living facility asks to be transferred.

"I thought, 'We are not going to be in that situation,'" the 67-year-old Norris says crisply. "This is not going to happen to us in our final days."

That's how the two New Yorkers, partners for 14 years, landed at Rainbow Vision, a just-completed senior community in Santa Fe, N.M. From the private dining room named after Truman Capote to the cabaret where '60s teen icon Lesley "It's My Party" Gore was scheduled to appear this weekend, everything about the 146-unit retirement village was designed with the comfort of graying gays and lesbians in mind.
Isn't it sad, though, that this couple, along with countless hundreds (perhaps thousands) of others have to find a "special" place to be who they are?

Isn't sad that we live in a society so intolerant that people just can't be and still live among us? That we have to herd them off to "camps" (to put it bluntly), no matter how nice and how appreciative those places might be?

Or, to put it another way:
In such senior-heavy locales as California, Arizona and Florida, as well as less traditionally gay-friendly places like North Carolina and Texas, builders have found a market in a segment of the gay population that worries getting old will mean going back in the closet.
Just in case you were a FReeper wondering why gay rights is still such an issue in this country.

Whoa! Finally some GOOD News!

Beer Ingredient May Fight Prostate Cancer

June 12, 2006, 7:50 AM EDT

CORVALLIS, Ore. -- A main ingredient in beer may help prevent prostate cancer and enlargement, according to a new study. But researchers say don't rush out to stock the refrigerator because the ingredient is present in such small amounts that a person would have to drink more than 17 beers to benefit.

Oregon State University researchers say the compound xanthohumol, found in hops, inhibits a specific protein in the cells along the surface of the prostate gland.
HA! So I've spent 25 years in preventive therapy!

Of course, this totally ignores the fact that most American beers are pastuerized and preserved beyond any recognition to your average internation beer drinker, which may explain why foreign beers taste so odd.

They're full of "ingredients". EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

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Sunday, June 11, 2006

A Pretty Gutsy Speech For A Republican

Bloomberg: Criticizing government can be patriotic

The Associated Press
June 10, 2006

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested to college graduates Saturday that nothing is more patriotic than questioning the government and "challenging it to live up to the democratic ideals."

During a graduation speech at the University of Chicago, the Republican mayor said there is a "spirit of intolerance" for people with opposing views, who often are accused of being unpatriotic. A transcript of the speech was provided to reporters at City Hall in New York.

"We all have to get together in this country and stop this right now and stand up to those who would demagogue," he said. "There is nothing - absolutely nothing - wrong with criticizing our government, on any topic, and challenging it to live up to the democratic ideals. It is not unpatriotic. In fact, what could be more patriotic?"
Wow. I mean, wow.

Granted that Bloomberg, up until 2001, was a member of the party that protects the rights of individuals, you have to give a guy credit: he's worked with Bush as a Republican and can still say this. He's not running for higher office, and this is likely his last term in public service, but he still has three years left, at least two of which will be working to get funds from a Republican president and possibly a Republican Congress. And he's taking on those DC fascists and the minions across this land that would stifle criticism, people like Rush Limbaugh and Ann "Furball" Coulter, and he's really throttling them about the throat, and he's taking Cheney down a notch, too!

This is a bold kick in the....
Aides say Bloomberg was not referring to a specific leader or issue, but rather an overall atmosphere where dissenting opinions are shut out.

Um, nevermind. Still, the allusion is pretty clear, especially when you take this last quote into consideration:
"It may be lonely standing up front," he told the graduates. "It may be dangerous to your career at times, and occasionally you can be proved wrong. But it is the essence of independence - something, I hope, the public is beginning to understand more and more."

Full transcript here.