October 30, 2004

He Was Quiet and De Moore

From Netscape News: New Bin Laden Tape Aired

Is anybody else struck by the remarkable similarities between the content of the new bin Laden tape, and significant portions of Fahrenheit 9/11?

Bin Laden suggested Bush was slow to react to the Sept. 11 attacks, giving the hijackers more time than they expected. At the time of the attacks, the president was listening to schoolchildren in Florida reading a book.

"It never occurred to us that the commander in chief of the American armed forces would leave 50,000 of his citizens in the two towers to face these horrors alone,'' [bin Laden] said, referring to the number of people who worked at the World Trade Center.

"It appeared to [Bush] that a little girl's talk about her goat and its butting was more important than the planes and their butting of the skyscrapers."

Then, later:

Bin Laden compared the Bush administration to repressive Arab regimes "in that half of them are ruled by the military and the other half are ruled by the sons of kings and presidents.''

He said the resemblance became clear when Bush's father was president and visited Arab countries.

And, most damning:

In the video, Bin Laden accused Bush of misleading Americans.

My God! I bet if you take that baseball cap off Michael Moore's head, all the skin and fat fall away, and reveal a sheepishly-grinning bin Laden at the controls.

October 29, 2004

Conversations With Greatness III

Don't worry, kids! Marx will be back, safe and sound, next week!

October 27, 2004

Annals of Annoying McGill Students, Part IV

During a sociology conference this morning, overheard the following (verbatim) soundbite.

Girl one: Hey, I stopped by your house yesterday.
Girl two: Shut up! Was I there?

It's times like this I appreciate being graded on a curve.

October 26, 2004

And the Prize For Most Surreal Headline Goes To...

In response to something? In general? In the midst of saying "Whaaaaaa?!"?

More surreal still is the story about Schwarzenegger, who apparently fancies himself something of a comedian. At a Republican campaign event in California, the governor jabbed at Senator Ted Kennedy's weight (using jokes, sadly, instead of actually poking Kennedy in the stomach), while talking about his state's $103 billion budget:

"That's a lot of money . . . Another way to think about it is if you take $100 bills and put them next to each other, they will go half way, truly half way around Teddy Kennedy's stomach.''

Good job, Arnie: fat jokes are a sure way to appeal to your opulent Republican base.

The governor continued, "He's one of my favorite relatives. He comes to my house and he eats away all the cake and all the desserts that we have," adding: "No, but seriously, folks. Am I right? Am I right, folks? Ted Kennedy is so fat that even I can't lift him!"

The governor terminated the joke section of his speech by making fun of John Kerry's tan. "My kids just brought home a beautiful pumpkin, but you know what? I'm going to return it because it's a Democratic pumpkin. It has the orange color of John Kerry's tan, and the roundness of Teddy Kennedy."

Which I think is pretty rich coming from this guy.

In other news, two Buddhist monks in Cambodia have given up their vows after falling in love with two beer-selling teenage girls (thus proving that even Buddhist monks believe what Maxim tells them is hot). The two girls frequently set up shop across from the monks' temple, which is pretty poor marketing strategy by anyone's standards.

My favourite part about this story: "The teenage girls earlier had been told to leave the monks alone, Deputy District Police Chief Yung Sam was quoted as saying."

'You leave those monks alone, young lady! What did they ever do to you?'

Man, the world is great.

October 22, 2004

Conversations With Greatness II

It's finally happened. In a short story I wrote last year, I lampooned the academy by implying that, within a few years, 'postmodernism' would have been replaced by 'post-postmodernism'.

Today, I read an article in which (written in 1999, in fact!) that, indeed, describes contemporary consumer culture as veering towards 'post-postmodern'.

Oh dear.

October 19, 2004

Just Carry a Damn Purse, Already!

From Netscape Men: Ten Things Stylish Men Keep in Their Wallets

"Matches. Channel your inner Humphrey Bogart." Get divorced a bunch of times? I'm not really sure what that has to do with matches.

"Toothpick." Um... You know you're supposed to put toothpicks in your mouth, right? Do you really want something you put in your mouth to spend the whole day next to your ass?

"Safety Pin." Come on, is this ten things stylish men keep in their wallets, or ten things that MacGyver keeps in his wallet?

"Business card from a local florist." For if the matches don't impress her.

"Library card." Nothing says 'style' like the library!

"$100 bill. A $100 bill is a reminder that you don't deal in change." So let's hope you don't have to break that hundred on toothpicks.

"Restaurant recommendations. A stylish man knows his way around town." Then shouldn't he just know where the good restaurants are, instead of having to carry their names around in his wallet?

"Mint . . . Good breath is as important as vocabulary. If you don't have it, you have nothing." NOTHING! Bad breath annuls all else! Bow to the power of bad breath! BOW!

"Driver's license. No matter how you look at it, a bicycle just isn't going to cut it." Plus, come on-- how would you ever get a bicycle in your wallet?

"A picture of parents." Or, failing that, a wallet-sized version of that 'American Gothic' painting.

What's with the internet getting all 'queer-eyed' up?

October 17, 2004

Department of the Bleedin' Obvious

From BBC NEWS | Scotland: Stabbings 'a public health issue'

Really? Do you think? I always thought they would fall more under the heading of 'Public nuiscance'.

According to Rudy Crawford, of the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, "People carry all sorts of weapons, some of them quite horrific . . . machetes, bayonets, swords."

(A spokesmatey for the Glasgow Pirates Association rebutted: "Yaarrr! What be wrong with swords?")

Crawford continued: "Swords are actually fairly popular and I think we . . . in Glasgow in particular, probably see more sword injuries than anywhere else in the UK or even Europe for that matter."

Crawford sighed wistfully, then nostalgically recalled the 'good old days' when Glaswegians were all so stoned on Temazepam that they couldn't be arsed getting into fights.

Edit: Gosh, that was an intolerably snobbish Edinbugger comment, wasn't it? I'm terribly sorry.

October 15, 2004

Conversations With Greatness

Because sometimes, in order to learn about something, you have to ridicule it.

File Transfer Pain-in-the-ass

My webspace is acting up again. I don't know why, other than that Sympatico is a piece of junk. If I have time this weekend, I'm going to try and move everything to a different server-- until then, please enjoy some broken images:

October 14, 2004

Warning: British Humour

For all my British readers (if, indeed, I still have any, after all this talk of baseball and politics):

Is anybody else surprised by the uncanny resemblance between Big Brother's Stu, and Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon?


October 13, 2004

Warning: Sociological Humour

I'm reading Suicide by Emile Durkheim right now, the seminal social statistic study. I was a little dismayed by the blurb on the back cover, though:

'Written by one of the world's most influential sociologists, this classic argues that suicide primarily results from a lack of integration of the individual into society.'

Man, way to give away the whole damn book! It's like picking up a copy of Murder on the Orient Express and reading: 'Agatha Christie's classic murder mystery in which EVERYONE is guilty!'. I hope somebody over at Simon and Schuster got fired for that one...

October 12, 2004


First of all: don't worry, that little Red Sox hat in the title graphic isn't going to be a fixture for long (much, alas, like the Red Sox themselves). Rather, it's just my annual tip of the hat (as it were) to the motley troop of so-called athletes who managed to somehow make me care, however superficially, about America's favourite (but generally pretty dull) pastime.

Actually, I sort of hope the Red Sox don't win the ACLS this year because (as I was explaining to Ken earlier), if they do then clearly the world will be about to end.

Speaking of the world ending, since when does Patrick Stewart stoop so low as to do voiceovers for Goodyear commercials? This is not what I expect from the venerable egghead.

Speaking of eggs (see what I did there?), the Birdcrime 2003 report (published by Britain's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) reports happily that nest thefts are at an all-time low. You might well ask, why would anybody want to steal a bird's nest? (You might also ask why "bird persecution" gets a front page story on the Beeb's website, but that's one I can't answer.) Well, somebody who might want to steal a bird's nest, obviously enough, is an egg collector-- a group of people about which little information is given other than that they're driven by "obsessive rivalries". I don't know who these people are, but apparently their numbers are dwindling, not least because you can now be imprisoned for stealing birds' nests.

So, in Britain these days, you can be imprisoned for 'bird persecution' in the form of stealing eggs, but may only face a fine for racial persecution in the form of racially aggravated harrasment. Just goes to show who's running things over there, eh?

Finally (speaking of, uh, weird things involving animals), I was given a Tamagotchi as a gag gift, today. After getting over the initial shock of realizing that they still make Tamagotchis, I turned it on and started playing with it.

15:40: Activated Tamagotchi. Egg appeared on screen. Watched egg with rapt fascination, waiting to witness miracle of birth.

15:43: Realized that egg will not hatch until time and date have been set. Set time and date.

15:44: Tamagotchi is born, a girl. Giggled for a moment, then named it 'Fifi'.

16:06: Late for meeting roommate to go grocery shopping.

16:11: Revealed to roommate that there is a Tamagotchi in my pocket. Am called 'mentally retarded'.

16:55: Realized that Tamagotchi had progressed from 'baby' to 'child'. Am overwhelemd with joy; 'mentally retarded' epithet repeated by roommate.

19:22: After uneventful afternoon, dropped Tamagotchi under couch. Fished it out, was relieved to discover that it seemed relatively unharmed.

19:54: Tamagotchi went to bed for the evening. Twiddled thumbs awkwardly, unsure of what to do with time.

22:38: Wrote in blog.

October 10, 2004

Taking Debate

That's it, I'm convinced. First Google censors me, and then the second Presidential debate is scheduled for a day when I'm supposed to be in the wilderness, away from the Internet and unable to update my blog. The man is obviously threatened by my fiery rhetoric.

Well, up yours, the man! Debate number two was so full of delicious things to comment on that I decided to struggle through a 28.8kpbs connection to post my aforementioned fiery rhetoric, anyway.

Bush continued his strategy of harping on about the same three Kerry soundbites that his campaign machine has been broadcasting out of context for weeks:

"He talks about a grand idea: let's have a summit . . . And what is he going to say to those people that show up at the summit? Join me in the wrong war at the wrong time at the wrong place? . . . They're not going to follow an American president who says 'follow me into a mistake'."

Say, I know you never used the word 'mistake', but isn't that the reason nobody followed you into Iraq? (Oh, sorry, I forgot about Poland.)

Bush then turned his attention to a much more dangerous foe: Canada. In response to allegations that he had blocked the importation of cheaper, Candian prescription drugs, the President explained:

"I just want to make sure they're safe. When a drug comes in from Canada I want to make sure it cures you and not kills you." He continued: "I mean, come on people! They don't even need to pay for healthcare up there! How good can their drugs possibly be?!"

The most disappointing thing about the debate was the Democrats' underhandedness. After weeks and months (and even years) of complaining about the dirty campaigning tactics of Bush and the rest of the Republicans, Kerry proved himself not above being the same kind of asshole-- before the debate, Kerry's aides handed out pink 3D movie glasses, describing them as "W's amazing, rose-coloured glasses".

What's more, after the bad press Bush got about scowling during Kerry's attacks at the first debate, I refuse to believe it's a coincidence that the senator began repeatedly addressing Bush directly (eg. "He didn't have weapons of mass destruction, Mr President", "Mr President, people are leaving the coalition, not joining it"). Seems to me like a pretty crude attempt to piss Bush off, which is entirely below the belt (and I'm sure not something that Kerry learnt in his much-vaunted Yale debating days).

Sigh . . . Why does democracy in America seem like such an abject failure?

October 07, 2004


From Netscape Careers: 33% of US Workforce does not meet minimum writing requirements for their jobs

According to the article, the "top writing problems for most employees" are:


Christ! What else is left after that? Those are the top writing problems? What other writing problems are there? I mean, if you can't manage any of the above six, what else could you do wrong that would make your writing noticably that much worse?

I'm going away to give thanks for Canada this weekend, so no posts until Tuesday. Until then I encourage everybody to practise writing.

October 03, 2004

Where's The First Amendment When You Need It?

Update: Obviously the Googlebot has more of a conscience than I do, as my Patrick Deuel post has been removed from the results page when you run a search for his name. It's not just that it's dropped off the front page; it's gone, completely (even running a search for 'Patrick Deuel exbostonian' only brings up the later post I wrote about the first one making it on to Google).

So there you go. I've been censored by Google. I'm not sure whether to feel happy or sad.