"If you understood everything I said, you'd be me" - Miles Davis
"There is much pleasure to be gained from useless knowledge." - Bertrand Russell
"Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government." - Lenny Bruce
"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!" - Homer Simpson

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Oh yea, the year is ending
List of best of 2003 lists
Via Gawker

Jessica Lynch Captures Saddam; Ex-Dictator Demands Back Pay from Baker
Former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was taken into custody yesterday at 8:30p.m. Baghdad time. Various television executives, White House spin doctors and propaganda experts at the Pentagon are at this time wrestling with the question of whether to claim PFC Jessica Lynch seized the ex-potentate or that Saddam surrendered after close hand-to-hand combat with current Iraqi strongman Paul Bremer III.

Ex-President Hussein himself told US military interrogators that he had surfaced after hearing of the appointment of his long-time associate James Baker III to settle Iraq's debts. "Hey, my homeboy Jim owes me big time," Mr. Hussein stated. He asserted that Baker and the prior Bush regime, "owe me my back pay. After all I did for these guys you'd think they'd have the decency to pay up."

The Iraqi dictator then went on to list the "hits" he conducted on behalf of the Baker-Bush administrations, ending with the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, authorized by the former US secretary of state Baker.

Mr. Hussein cited the transcript of his meeting on July 25, 1990 in Baghdad with US Ambassador April Glaspie. When Saddam asked Glaspie if the US would object to an attack on Kuwait over the small emirate's theft of Iraqi oil, America's Ambassador told him, "We have no opinion.... Secretary [of State James] Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction ... that Kuwait is not associated with America."
While lauding the capture of Mr. Hussein, experts caution that the War on Terror is far from over, noting that Osama bin Laden, James Baker and George W. Bush remain at large.
Via Follow Me Here

" The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity."
The Second Coming-William Butler Yeats

Best spam 'sender' this week:
"Straightaway T. Akimbo"

Good Gravy, who the heck falls for e-mail from somebody like this?

Shocked, just shocked
A judge presiding over the cases of free trade protesters said in court that he saw ''no less than 20 felonies committed by police officers'' during the November demonstrations, adding to a chorus of complaints about police conduct.

Judge Richard Margolius, 60, made the remarks in open court last week, saying he was taken aback by what he witnessed while attending the protests.

''Pretty disgraceful what I saw with my own eyes. And I have always supported the police during my entire career,'' he said, according to a court transcript. ``This was a real eye-opener. A disgrace for the community.''
''I probably would have been arrested myself if it had not been for a police officer who recognized me,'' said the judge, who wears his hair in a graying ponytail.
During the Dec. 11 hearings, the judge asked an assistant state attorney, ``How many police officers have been charged by the State Attorney so far for what happened out there during the FTAA?''

None, the prosecutor replied.
Via The Agonist

Lord of the Rings/The Two Towers
After watching the Battle at Helms Deep at least a half-dozen times I have to say that that is one piss-poor fortress. It's missing a lot of the basics:
Firing Slots/Ports-beats exposing your whole torso over the wall to fire arrows
Catapults/Arbalasts/aka Artillery
Boiling Oil-very handy
Long Poles to push away those pesky ladders
Drawbridges-It was way too easy for those Orcs to get the battering ram to the gate
Why wasn't there somebody guarding the drain grate? It's an obvious target. I would have put the water into a pool to be used to flood the enemy.
This is just off the top of my head-a study of castle design would undoubtably come up with more examples.

Santa is a 'shroom
The psychedelic secrets of Santa Claus
Via Metafilter

Positively Sterlingesque
Transdniester has a president, parliament, army and porice forces, but, as yet it is lacking International recognition. The official languages are Russian, Moldavian, and Ukrainian. Constitutional system: Trans-Dniester Moldavian Republic is an independent democratic state. Trans-Dniester Moldavian Republic is situated between the Republic of Moldova and the Republic of Ukraine. Territorially the state encompasses areas on the left bank of the Dniester river, the town of Bendery and some villages on the right bank. The capital of Trans-Dniester Moldavian Republic is Tiraspol (population 194,000 as of 1 September 1999).

Transdniester separatists' have a long-time involvement in money-laundering and the manufacturing and smuggling of weapons, as well as trafficking in human beings and drugs. Secessionists in Russian-speaking Transdniester maintain control over the enclave's borders with Ukraine, across which most of the smuggling takes place. The region's leader, Igor Smirnov, and his son, Vladimir, are believed to have almost exclusive control over the lucrative criminal activities in the area.

Thoughts on "Battlestar Galactica"
Of course it's better than the original. I've seen the original, and there are Pokemon episodes that are better TV.

Impressive sound/music, editing, and production design.

Cylons who imitate humans must avoid certain positions during sex, lest their glowing spinal cords give them away.

Problems I have:
Why would are the Cylons hostile to humans at all? Space is big and they can out-compete and out-reproduce us.

Dogfights in space are a silly concept to begin with, but humans versus sentient machines is downright ridiculous. Humans can handle maybe 4 gees tops while the machines can accelerate and maneuver at the limit of their technologies.

The Cylons can make themselves resemble humans right down to the organs, but can only make 12 models of replicants? Go on, try to come up with a plausible explanation.

And of course, the uber-hole that comes up with almost any half-baked SF: why haven't the sentient machines achieved the Singularity?

Doing my part

A little-known provision buried within the omnibus federal spending bill that the U.S. House of Representatives approved yesterday would take away federal grants from local and state transportation authorities that allow citizens to run advertising on buses, trains, or subways in support of reforming our nation?s drug laws. If enacted, the provision could effectively silence community groups around the country that are using advertising to educate Americans about medical marijuana and other drug policy reforms. Meanwhile, this same bill gives the White House $145 million in taxpayer money to run anti-marijuana ads next year.
Via Abuddhas Memes

Spam subject of the week
"You've got Medicine Ammo"
How did they know?

Can't eat just one
If talking food is a tool, it's one typically seized by a businessman/evangelist desperately grasping for "funny" ? and using the first inoffensive, seemingly comic concept he can find.

But Adult Swim mainstay "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" may be enough to singlehandedly rehabilitate the genre. Featuring a streetwise and nigh-omnipotent box of french fries, a chronically stupid wad of hamburger meat with an unnerving talent for deadpan sarcasm, and a milkshake who is, in the words of his creators, "an asshole," the show is currently commencing its first full-bore run on Cartoon Network.

Unlike most fiction-driven TV shows, which trundle mechanically along the tracks of their plot from opening dilemma to neat conclusion, "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" relies almost entirely on the interplay of its characters. And the scorchingly abrasive Master Shake carries a lot of the load.

"I think we both have an affinity for assholes," said series co-creator and co-writer Dave Willis in a recent phone interview with himself and colleague Matt Maiellaro. "They're always a lot funnier than the people on, like, 'Friends,' who are good looking and don't have any major flaws."
Via Metafilter

Don't worry about the government
The U.S. government will continue to deport Canadian citizens to third countries if they pose a risk to American national security, said Paul Cellucci, U.S. ambassador to Canada.
He emphasized that the U.S respects the Canadian passport, but homeland security comes first Cellucci's comments came a week after Paul Martin, the incoming prime minister, pledged to further investigate the handling of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, who was deported to Syria rather than Canada by U.S. authorities in 2002.
Federal Solicitor General Wayne Easter downplayed the impact Cellucci's comments will have on Canada-U.S. relations, while Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty Canada said he found Cellucci's comments troubling. "It contravenes international law and should, and can play, no part in any effort to increase security," said Neve. "If anything, (he) is fostering greater insecurity in the world."
This makes perfect sense, because Canada is soooo far away. And of course Syria is our good buddy.
Via wood's lot

Master of my domain
Confronted with a totally dead computer, I correctly diagnosed the problem as a dead power supply and completed a successful replacement. Now to get the cd-rom drive working again.

Excuse Me?
Bush made a 20-minute speech to a crowd of about 500 party faithful in the main ballroom of the Hanover Marriott at a $2,000-a-plate evening fund-raiser.

Not breaking any ground, Bush highlighted the accomplishments of his administration, saying he had eliminated the terror threat from Afghanistan and weapons of mass destruction from Iraq and ensured that Medicare will remain solvent.

"I came to this office to solve problems and not pass them on to future presidents and future generations," Bush told the crowd.
When the hell did this happen?

Officer Friendly
Miami police Chief John Timoney must be mighty proud of the social order he maintained during the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit a couple of weeks ago in Miami - sort of the way Saddam Hussein was proud of quieting dissension in his country.

Timoney has a well-deserved reputation for using paramilitary tactics to turn any city where large protests are planned into a place where the Constitution has taken a holiday. During the FTAA meeting on Nov. 20, Timoney dispatched 2,500 police officers in full riot gear against a crowd estimated at 8,000 people, mostly union members and retirees.

The result was a show of force that would have made a Latin American dictator blush.
Observers said the provocation for officers to shoot rubber bullets and paint balls filled with pepper spray at the predominantly peaceable crowd was often one person lobbing an orange in the direction of police or lighting a trash can on fire.
In addition to such shootings, police abandoned any legitimate basis for searching and arresting people. Miles Swanson, 25, a legal observer for the lawyers guild, was punched numerous times while being taken in by officers for pointing out undercover police dressed up as protesters. Eight of 60 guild observers were arrested that day; they wore distinctive green hats and were apparently targeted. When Swanson was grabbed off the street by three Broward County sheriff's deputies - two of whom were in ski masks - he said they told him "this is what you get when you f-- with us." Then, Swanson said, the deputies drove him around while looking for another legal observer to arrest. He ultimately pleaded no contest to one charge of obstructing justice so he could return to law school in Washington, D.C.

Celeste Fraser Delgado, a 36-year-old reporter for the Miami New Times, was interviewing protesters when she was arrested. According to an Associated Press report of her ordeal, she overheard police arguing about what to charge her with. The two misdemeanors - failure to obey a legal command and resisting arrest without violence - were dropped the next day.

The police seemed especially sensitive to having their actions photographed or taped. Sean Lidberg, who was stringing for a Minnesota paper, said his group of friends was aggressively detained and searched by police because one of them had picked up and put down a coconut found on the ground.

"We're from Minnesota and never saw coconuts growing wild," said the 20-year-old Lidberg. When he tried to take video of the police searching through his backpack, Lidberg said, "they shoved the camera down and wouldn't let me document anything said or done." Police proceeded to take most of what he had in his backpack, which included two gas masks. He doesn't expect to see his stuff again.

When contacted for comment, the Miami police first asked for case numbers. When those were provided, the public information officer said he didn't have time to comment on the incidents and hung up when his name was requested.
More at Metafilter

I'm waiting for Rufus T. Firefly
Now I'm getting spam (GENNERIC V I A G R A, No pcresription nedeed!) from "Restiveness H. Downer".

Various Chuckleheads
illegal turn
Here we have a buttmunch holding up about 5 cars while attempting to make an illegal turn across 2 lanes of busy traffic into a line of 10 cars waiting for a light. I really wish I was the car behind them so I could use my horn.

illegal turn
This is classic. Not 1, not 2, but 3 cars parked in a load/unload zone while they busily load/unload what-lattes? Actually the last car in the line is parked in a bus stop.

One of the things I miss about my last job was the ability to have non-customers towed out of our lot. The nicer the car, the better. This arrogant jerk hasn't even fed the meter. Oh yea, I miss having cars towed.

Painted Van
painted van