Thursday, October 30, 2003

GROVE CITY, Pa. - A charter bus driver who allegedly stopped a Chicago-to-New York trip and demanded money from each of his passengers to continue it was charged with disorderly conduct and related offenses, police said.

Kai Chen, 44, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was driving 25 people, including several small children, for a company called New Oriental Tours Inc., also out of Brooklyn, police said.

He pulled into a Venango County rest stop along Interstate 80 late Sunday night, cursed at the passengers and demanded money from them to continue the trip, passengers told police.

The passengers had already paid $2,800 for the trip and refused to pay more, so Chen took his keys and got off the bus, police said. A backup driver who was also on the bus took over for Chen and continued the trip after Chen was arrested, police said.

This whole thing is a complete freakshow, really. The article goes on to say that there is no 'New Oriental Tours' listed in the Brooklyn directory. Hmm. Think you could get yer hands on a bus, easily, and use it to pull of a mass kidnapping?

Interesting thought, no?

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As colorful new $20 bills circulate around the nation, more consumers are finding out that the notes do not work on automated payment machines like those found in self-service checkout counters at grocery stores.

THE FIRST CALLS STARTED coming into the U.S. Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing two days ago, frustrating government officials who had worked to overcome the vending machine problems that followed the 1998 redesign of the bill.

This time the problem seems to plague mostly automated payment machines - a relatively recent arrival in the industry, the bureau said.

“We learned from our lack of outreach last time, and we really made an effort to reach out to thousands of business industries and associations so they can start working with their customers and members,” said Dawn Haley, spokeswoman for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

When the colorful $20 bill was officially introduced into circulation Oct. 9, the first purchase made with it was stamps from a vending machine at a Washington, D.C., post office.

The ceremonial purchase was no accident.

“The postal service wasn’t ready last time too - so we worked really hard with them,” Haley said. “We definitely wanted to showcase the fact the U.S. Postal Service was ready.”

Okay, so the gov't spent $30 million to promote this fucking thing, but somehow the vending machine people didn't hear about it, huh?

Kids, this is a stupid, stupid country.

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NEW YORK - Just in time for Halloween, a vampire-killing kit complete with a wooden stake and 10 silver bullets sold for $12,000 at auction Thursday.

The kit, a walnut box that also contained a crucifix, a pistol, a rosary and vessels for garlic powder and various serums, was bought by an anonymous phone bidder.

According to Sotheby's, some experts believe that such kits were commonly available to travelers in Eastern Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, while others think the kits were made in the early 20th century, possibly to cash in on interest in vampires sparked by the 1897 publication of Bram Stoker's "Dracula."

Elaine Whitmire, head of 19th century furniture for Sotheby's, said she believes the kit was assembled in the early 20th century and sold to travelers as a souvenir.

"My opinion is this is a memento that you bought while you were in Europe," she said. "I doubt it was cheap to buy."

C'mon, tell me you don't want one....

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Forget the hearse parked in the driveway and the fog machines belching smoke around the gargoyles crouching on the front porch. The twin Batman logos projected onto the garage last weekend let revelers know what kind of fun was in store. As if they didn't know.

Halloween arrived early this year in a quiet neighborhood in suburban Chicago, home to Alex Ross, one of the most influential comic book artists working today.

"There are a couple of artists at his level of popularity — Jim Lee and Frank Miller," said Chip Kidd, who, along with Geoff Spear, wrote "Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross," published by Pantheon this month. "But there are very few who fit the bill of comic book artist as rock star, and Alex is definitely one of them."

On Saturday night Mr. Ross and his wife, T. J., turned their house into Superhero Central. The scene was Gotham City and Metropolis rolled into one, as 200 elaborately costumed guests piled in. Nightwing and Green Lantern compared notes on Batman over drinks with Catwoman, Scarecrow and the Penguin, and the Green Hornet and Kato mingled with intergalactic warriors from "Battle of the Planets." The Rosses' yellow Labrador, Indiana, was there as Underdog.

This is mostly for MikE! & D, both of whom dug MARVELS in a big way. Pretty good article, too. Go enjoy.

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Matt's being brillo over @ X-E again. Go here for the latest Halloween countdown stuff.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Since the day our ancestors climbed fin over flipper from the primordial ooze, we have been driven by one single, basic urge; a force so primal in its simplicity that all other human accomplishment has been little more than a happy side-effect. No, it's not self-betterment, exploration or the will to get it on with members of the opposite sex. We are of course talking about the need to whup some serious ass.

From LETHAL WEAPONS: A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO MAKING THINGS DEAD. Go, read. Here's the secret, btw. Go to FARK and click on just about any link. Then when you get there, find another link on the same page. Keep doing that until you find the article/picture/vidclip that makes you blink a few times and laugh/nod/cringe and then post the fucker up.

Easy way to blog, for lazy fuckers like me.

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Really fine article on/interview with Alton Brown can be found here. Go, read. Find out why the science of food is a thousand times more interesting than food itself. Really. Trust me on this one.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Yeah, so just checking out the site stats and realized that ever since I thanked my Canadians for being 'loyal,' I haven't had one hit from the Great White North. Thanks, fellas.

Fuckin' hosers.

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Okay, not exciting, but it's making me smile, and that's pretty okay.

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I need, NEED, something to make my little world more exciting. Seriously, I'm at the point of setting random pedestrians on fire just for a giggle. Riding the bus IS NOT EXCITING. Managing a bunch of quiet little folk as they work their wiles on circuit boards IS NOT EXCITING. Living in a quiet, pleasant, pretty part of a polite city IS NOT EXCITING.

I'm not whining. Swear to Christ, I'm not. I love my girl, happy to be close to friends who were too far away for too long and I'm digging Jet City, but man, there's nothing like a few days in NYC and the surrounding country to make you feel like you've gone fifteen rounds with Tyson, crossed the DMZ waving an American flag and swam the English Channel with a dozen Great Whites on yer ass and are therefore entitled to as much oxygen, nicotine and alcohol as you feel like consuming. The stress of daily living is what it is, and it's nothing to discount, but really, I'm very much feeling the need to be in some sort of life-threatening situation RIGHT GODDAMNED NOW.

Right. Just venting. Please continue reading peacefully.

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Monday, October 27, 2003

Philadelphia Police are investigating the robbery of a Wal-Mart store in Franklin Mills, where a man dressed as a armored car security guard fooled employees and walked out with a big payoff.

According to Philadelphia Police Sgt. Roland Lee, it happened around noon Sunday when a man, dressed as an armored car guard, entered the store:

"He went to the Wal-Mart store, posed as the person, and he took over a hundred thousand dollars in cash and checks in a deposit that was supposed to be deposited to an armored car carrier."

Hee hee hee.

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Sunday, October 26, 2003

YOKOHAMA, Japan -- The new supermarket west of Tokyo has all the trademark Wal-Mart touches -- roomy aisles, price rollbacks and big shiny signs, but shoppers have almost no idea this outlet is run by the U.S. retail giant.

Yuki Kitamura, a housewife who swears by the store's vegetable selection, didn't know and didn't care that Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, has a 37.7 percent stake in the supermarket chain Seiyu, the operator of this store and 400 others nationwide.

"The store got a liberating feeling, and it got roomier," she said. "It's fun."

Despite the $6.4 million remodeling of the flagship store, the Wal-Mart name is nowhere to be seen. Moreover, there isn't a single Supercenter in Japan, and Wal-Mart officials say they may never open one here.

Wal-Mart is making its entrance into Japan cautiously and stealthily. The retailer, based in Bentonville, Ark., studied Japan for several years and concluded it was a complex market best penetrated under an alliance with a local partner that understood Japanese shoppers. So it took a stake in Seiyu last year.

"For Japanese customers, the name Wal-Mart doesn't mean a lot. The Seiyu name means a lot. For the near future, we'll go with the Seiyu brand," said Billie Cole, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart International Holdings.

Wal-Mart, which operates in 10 nations besides the United States, has adapted its approach to different markets, making itself more visible with Wal-Mart stores in places like China, while taking a lower profile in Mexico and Britain, where it has chosen partners.

But nowhere else is the total invisibility of Wal-Mart quite as clear as in Japan. Foreign brands are sometimes embraced -- among them, Coca-Cola, Louis Vuitton, Walt Disney, the Gap -- but often face failure verging on total rejection.

More news of Wal-Mart stealthily attempting to take over the world. This is like day 2 or 3, I think. It's cetainly easier to find stories about Wal-Mart than people lopping off their cocks.

I know that my little temper tantrums won't change anything, but I think it's worth keeping an eye on those fuckers. To assauge my conscience, if nothing else, from the time when I bought things at Wal-Mart, before I looked into the place and realized what a snakepit it is.

Yeah, right. No inspiration today. Going away. I'll post anything fun I find. Have a nice'n.

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Saturday, October 25, 2003

(CNN) -- Israeli forces destroyed three residential buildings late Saturday in El Zahara, Gaza, near a Jewish settlement that was the site of an attack the day before, Palestinian sources in Gaza City told CNN.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told CNN in a phone interview from his home in Jericho that the action has left at least 180 families homeless.

"This is a crime, a war crime," he said. "It's a good thing that people are out of their apartments on the eve of Ramadan."

Erakat urged President Bush to take a stronger role in the Mideast peace process, and called on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to rethink the operations.

"This will bring you no peace and no security," he said. "With such attacks you are bringing about the destruction of the Palestinian moderate camp."

Just a quickie 'cause I've got better things to do on a Saturday night, but the Israelies are OUT OF FUCKING CONTROL. If there's a country in the middle east that needs a good sitting down and talking to, I don't think it's Iraq or Syria or motherfucking Iran, kids. Our supposed 'allies' are pulling as much fascist shit as just about anybody who's trampled them through their admitedlly rough and painful history, but, man, they've done almost nothing but pull moves and invade Palestine since they got set up, and the really sad part is that the U.S. is supporting this kind of crap to the tune of many billions of dollars every year. Which means that part of your taxes (you U.S. folks, anyway) are supporting helicopter gunships firing rockets into heavily populated urban areas, a wall to divide what Israel considers theirs from what the Palestinians have been living in for generations and the continued suppression of a people who got displaced sixty years ago by a bunch of Western bullies who had the weight to throw against the world.

I've asked this before and I'll ask again: Are you cool with that?

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Pulled this from a Times article a few days ago but can't find the article right now, although you should go hunt it down. Very cool stuff about people building weird stealth computers into cool cases (such as the toaster computer above), based around this tiny motherboard that was (if memory serves) only a few inches on a side. This goes back to the SANDBENDERS thing, really, although Gibson had some cooler ideas with the idea of mother-of-pearl cases, cd-roms made out of hammered silver, etc. Cool to see, though, that the hot-rodding of computers has truly begun and that these big boxes that we're peering at all the time are soon going to become just set pieces for shows & movies set in the late 20th century, akin to squawkbox telephones, "horseless carriage"-type automobiles and tv's with 5-inch screens.

Going shopping w/Buttons. Let you know what we got later.

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Totyota's new-for-'04 cybernetic, wifi, airbag- & traction-control equipped baby carriage with DVD navigation system and six-year extended warranty.

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Every night for months, Victor Zavala Jr., who was arrested on Thursday in a 21-state immigration raid, said he showed up at the Wal-Mart store in New Jersey to clean floors.

As the store's regular employees left at 11 p.m., Mr. Zavala said, they often asked him whether he ever got a night off.

Mr. Zavala, identified by federal agents as an illegal immigrant from Mexico, told the Wal-Mart workers that he and four others employed by a cleaning contractor worked at the Wal-Mart in Old Bridge every night of the year, except Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Now Mr. Zavala feels cheated, saying he worked as hard as he could pursuing the American dream, only to face an immigration hearing that could lead to deportation for himself, his wife, Eunice, and their three children, 10, 7 and 5 years old. He was one of 250 janitors employed by Wal-Mart contractors who were arrested at 60 Wal-Mart stores before dawn on Thursday...

...Federal officials said that as part of the Thursday raid, they searched the office of a middle-level manager at Wal-Mart's headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. The officials said the government believed that Wal-Mart executives knew the cleaning contractors were using illegal immigrants.

Heyo. Just continuing to evilly chuckle as Wal-Mart gets chipped away from the bottom. The nice thing about having an overbearing, facist government is that they tend to do everything they can to take apart power structures that they percieve as being a threat. Meanwhile, mouthy subversive whiners like me get pretty much ignored. And that's just the way I like it.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Archie McPhee's vants your blood. The gag and goof mecca is hosting its 10th annual blood drive on Thursday from noon to 6 p.m., but if you need an excuse to do a good dead -- er, deed -- that's taken care of, too.

Every donor will get a spooky gift. And if you show up in costume at the Ballard store (2428 N.W. Market St.), you get a free gargoyle. And for you first-timers: Don't plan to do anything strenuous for about an hour or so after you let 'em tap you.

Archie's just kicks ass. If you're in Seattle any kinda time, go visit. You'll end up walking out with a bag fulla Jesus action figures, honey-mustard grubworms, taxidermist's eyes, Devil Girl bobble-heads and some Angel Snot and really, what could be better than that?

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Oakland has become the latest California community to ban Wal-Mart "Supercenters" that sell discount groceries alongside other bargain goods.

The Oakland City Council voted 7-1 Tuesday night to approve a measure to limit the size of "big-box" grocery stores allowed in the city. The ordinance bars discount retail stores with full-service supermarkets that exceed 100,000 square feet, or about 2.5 acres.

The measure targets Wal-Mart Supercenters -- gigantic shopping centers that average 187,000 square feet, about twice the size of the typical Wal-Mart store.

Since introducing the concept in 1998, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer has opened 1,258 Supercenters in 43 states -- but none in California. However, that state figures in Wal-Mart's continuing expansion plans.

Starting next year, Wal-Mart plans to open 40 Supercenters in California over the next four years.

Y'know, good for Oakland, right? I mean, seriously, good for them to see the wrongness of allowing businesses that are specifically geared to crush their competitors. Specifically geared to crush, 'cause they target small organizations, mom & pop stores and similar. Bullshit and bullshit. I didn't shed many tears when Wal-Mart took down K-Mart, but man, I was ready to start flinging molotovs when they ran half the indie shops on Main Ave. in Norwalk out of biz. Free enterprise is one thing, but Wal-Mart's playing for blood. Which is to say, DON'T FUCKING SHOP AT WAL-MART, GODDAMMIT.

Thank you.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Sorry, haven't been keeping up lately. Just bone-tired, really. Me n' Buttons (mostly Buttons) painted the bedroom over the weekend and yesterday and the power was off when I got home. And, of course, there's been some booze.

Anyway, not much to say. I tip my hat to my loyal Canadians, who've been checking in damned strong and to all the folk from around the world who seem to find occasion to head on over here. Seriously, what were you people looking for that led you to lil' ol' Billyhank?

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As a polygamous husband is jailed and traumatised women start to speak out, a siege mentality grips a fundamentalist Mormon sect, reports Julian Coman from Hildale, Utah

High in the mountains above the most notorious polygamous community in America, two grim-faced men on horseback have come to meet - but not welcome - me. "This is private property," said one. "No pictures. You have got to leave right now."

Warren Jeffs: the Mormon 'Prophet' under investigation
The men are blocking the way to a deep man-made cave. Here, according to the few locals prepared to talk, the elders of an eccentric breakaway Mormon sect have prepared a last stand against further interference by Utah state authorities - stockpiling food and, some say, weapons, as if in readiness for a siege.

The godfearing polygamists of Hildale and neighbouring Colorado City, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) have good reason to be jumpy.

Last week, for the first time in 40 years, the state of Utah jailed a local resident for bigamy. Rodney Holm, a powerful local police officer, will serve a year in prison. He was also found guilty of two charges of sexual misconduct with a minor.

Just fucked up. Go read the article. It'll either chill you or thrill you. Lemme know which.

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40 OxyContin pill
40-bar OxyContin pill
80 OxyContin pill
AC/DC Codeine cough syrup
Ah-pen-yen Opium
AIP Heroin from Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan
Al Capone Heroin
Antifreeze Heroin
Aries Heroin
Atom bomb Marijuana mixed with heroin
Aunt Hazel Heroin
Aunti Opium

From the White House's list of street names for drugs. My fave is "Joy Powder" for coke. Joy Powder? Seriously, what kind of self-respecting addict is gonna go up to his neighborhood dealer and ask for Joy Powder?

Yeah. Looks like the White House folks haven't moved along too much from Just Say No, huh?

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A Tanzanian man has cut off his genitals in an attempt to win sympathy from his creditors.

The 24-year-old took the extreme step after squandering their money on prostitutes and alcohol, according to reports.

He panicked upon realising he could not pay back millions of shillings lent to him by friends and relatives to invest in a business venture.

The Guardian said the man's condition was improving after he received treatment at his local hospital in the east African country's northern Manyara region.


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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Shit, why not? Einstein's passport. Something simple from someone complex.

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If you're using a particular book to make candles or soap, you may have a dangerous chemistry project on your hands.

John Wiley & Sons Inc. is recalling 5,400 copies of the instruction book "Candle and Soap Making For Dummies," which sold in bookstores and discount department stores nationwide in August and September for about $20.

The directions in the book for making lye instruct users to combine sodium hydroxide and water in an incorrect order. This could cause the mixture to bubble over, posing a burn hazard.

Fight Club, anyone?

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Wednesday, October 15, 2003

WASHINGTON -- California governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger must explain the substance of his private May 2001 meeting with Enron chief Ken Lay, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights wrote in a letter to Schwarzenegger Tuesday.

FTCR, which was the state's most vocal critic of Governor Gray Davis' handling of the energy crisis, said that if the governor-elect did not recount the meeting by the time of his inauguration, the group would ask state lawmakers to open an investigation to uncover the substance of the meeting, including any information that might further the state's efforts to return billions of dollars that taxpayers and consumers overpaid for electricity during the energy crisis.

"A meeting with the biggest corporate crook in recent memory, while he and his firm were in the midst of ripping off the state, should not be taken lightly," FTCR wrote. "As Governor, you must explain to Californians what you were doing at that meeting, what information Ken Lay shared with you and how the meeting has influenced your thinking on energy issues."

In addition to calling on Schwarzenegger to come clean about the meeting with Lay, the group highlighted key aspects of the governor-elect's energy program that reflect an Enron perspective on energy policy. In the letter, FTCR asked Schwarzenegger to rewrite his energy policy and remove his push for further energy deregulation.

The policy proposals, available online at www.joinarnold.com, call for the expansion of California's failed experiment with electricity deregulation, including a dramatic ceding of power from state regulation to federal control.

Yo, WHAT THE FUCK? Look at that last paragraph..."including a dramatic ceding of power from state regulation to federal control." Goddammit. That Nazi bitch is doing everything he can to hand Cali over to Bush. MotherFUCKER.

Your government, in case you haven't been paying attention, in embroiled in serious and constant attempts to take your country out of your control. I'm four beers down in the last hour and I can see it. Can you?

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A Staten Island ferry slammed into a pier Wednesday afternoon, killing at least 10 people and sending 34 to area hospitals, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

There were "multiple injuries," some of them critical and serious, fire and Coast Guard officials said.

A spokesman for St. Vincent's Hospital on Staten Island said they had received 10 patients, some of them with "massive trauma" and others with hypothermia because they had fallen or jumped into the water.

"There were numerous injuries like fractures and lacerations," Fire Department spokeswoman Maria Lamberti told The Associated Press. "There were a couple of people with amputations -- legs and arms."

Bloomberg disputed reports that the captain of the ship committed suicide. He said the captain is alive and talking with investigators.

Shit, shit, shit. Can't think of any reasons why my kids would be on that one, but, shit, still worried.


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Scream flick viewers witnessed some real-life violence Sunday when a Dorchester man stabbed a father whose sneakers were resting on the back of his seat - retribution for ignoring pleas to turn off his cell phone, police said.

``I guess you could call this phone rage,'' Randolph police Lt. Richard Crowley said. ``You have to obey movie house etiquette: Turn off your phone and don't put your feet up.''

It all began about 7 p.m. in the Showcase Cinemas on Mazzeo Drive when a Randolph girl put her feet up on the back of a movie theater chair, police said. A group of about five sitting in front asked her to take them down. She did.

They all settled in to watch ``House of the Dead'' when Jose Pujols' cell phone started to ring, police said.

``The girl's father asked him to put his phone away and he wouldn't and they got into an argument. (The father) put his feet on the back of (Jose's) chair,'' Crowley said.

``Jose pulled out a knife, turned around and stabbed him in the foot.''

Well, there ya go. The Sox make it into the playoffs and the hole town gets crazy. Wahoo.

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Why? 'Cause it's little pieces of Pete Townsend's guitars. And if you don't know why that's important, then, shit, I dunno if you belong here.

Long live rock, right?

(pic from collectguitars.com; thanks, y'all)

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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Feeling lazy, 'cause it's all just newsdump in here lately, no billyhank words. Dunno why. I'm out, I'm doing shit, my mind should be churn and burn and spit left and right. A bit of a physical ache, maybe, more than anything else. Been riding my bike to work and back the last couple of days and while I'm digging the burn of it (although cigarettes at work are making the ride home more of a chore than it should be), there's still that missing dynacism, that, shit, I dunno....anger?....antogonism?...of driving.

Biking is similar to bus riding, in that there's a certain contemplative quality to your movement. In the bus, you've given up any real freedom of movement in exchange for a relatively painless and cheap way to transport yourself. Biking allows for diversion from your set path (i.e. breaking off to Gasworks on my way home tonight for a short look at the bay and the chance spotting of a couple of Cessna watercraft coming in for a landing from the North), but at the expense of your sweat, your muscle, your occasional brush with death (came to a skidding halt this morning in the U district when some asshole in a Honda went right on red just as I hit the crosswalk; more anger than fear, but I gotta get some blinkies for the bike). Which, of the two modes, I find preferable, certainly, although I think the rainy season might take the wind out of my sails on that one. We'll see.

Here's the thing, though. On the bus I'm hidden away behind a book and my headphones. On the bike I'm fully engaged with the reality of the world around me. Both modes, I've found, make the wheels in your head spin. Dunno why, really. Words and music should be a distraction in the former and dodging peds, other bikes and the occasional wayward import sedan in the latter. But that's not what I've found. I think and think and think and wonder. No stories, no real coherent thought, just an endless stream of halfass philosophy, bits of memory, the occasional startling sight along the trail or on the street (or this one old lady on the Gilman who's got a pug and is always chatting with some other dog person. She makes me think of Buttons; Jen loves the pugs). It's got its own energy, the bike-riding, but it's just not the same. Not that it's intended to be, I suppose, but I'm still the wishing for the conflux of speed, music, freedom and control. That's driving, not riding, not pedaling, not walking.

Maybe this is why we love the cars so much, as a planet. I know, it's an old thought, often repeated, but that's the kind of shit that's true, right? In my car, back in the day, my rattling station wagon, I was a high plain drifter, a pale rider, autonomous and vital. I could be courteous or bomb along the highway like a madman, crank the radio for good songs or dial up witty talk on NPR. The ultimate bipolar machine. The best way to push out every little piece of my personality I could find.

Whatever. I've lost the thread. Everything's new, and I'm starting to wonder if my calcified brain is having a harder time coping than I'm admitting.

Probably out for the night. Glad to have you along for the ride, children. Talk to you soon.

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A PRIEST arrested for allegedly making threatening telephone calls had in his home Nazi paraphernalia, pistols and $US80,000 ($116,000) supposedly taken from a church poor box, The New York Times reported overnight.

John Johnson's home in Queens borough had three unregistered hand guns, The New York Times said, citing police sources.

Police found the weapons while arresting Johnson for allegedly making threatening telephone calls to a school where he had worked.

Johnson himself led police to the $US80,000 ($116,000) in cash hidden in the bathroom of his home. Police told the Times that the money had been taken from the poor box at Saint Martin church on Long Island over a period of years when Johnson said mass there on weekends.

Johnson also had Nazi memorabilia and pornography, according to the same sources.

This may be the absolute definition of lurid; a story so jaw-dropping, so movie-of-the-week, that an Australian news organ is reprinting material from half the world away.

Ah, Queens.

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WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether it's unconstitutional for children in public schools to pledge their allegiance to "one nation under God."

The Pledge of Allegiance case pushes the court into an emotional argument over religion, patriotism and schools. Activists on both sides of the church-state divide immediately predicted one of the most significant, and wrenching, rulings in the court's modern history.

Generations of schoolchildren have begun each day by standing, hand on heart, to recite the oath that begins, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America."

Sometime next year, the high court will hear the case of a California atheist who objects to the pledge his 9-year-old daughter's teacher leads daily. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco agreed with Michael Newdow last year, and the ruling set off a national uproar.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress criticized the decision and quickly passed a law affirming references to God in the pledge and the national motto, "In God We Trust." President Bush, who signed the measure, called the appeals court decision ridiculous.

The ruling is on hold pending the court challenge.

Okay, I'm ALL for the separation of Church & State, but this might be taking things to a useless extreme. This country, much as I'm loathe to point out, was founded by a bunch of religious nuts. That's gonna define a great deal of what the nation's all about. I'm certainly not advocating a wide-sweeping conversion to Christianity (or Judaism, Islam, Hindu, etc.), but, really, how much difference is it gonna make if a buncha little kids say "...under God"?

That said, I'll happily admit to having not said the pledge of alligience since I was twelve or so. Not that I don't love my country, warts, boils & all, but I'm not willing to put aside my own personal philosophies for a bunch of legislation that I've never had much real hand in crafting.

Pretty much the same reason I'm not willing to say the Lord's Prayer, when I go to one of my father's services. Christianity (much like American democracy, now that I think about it) is just far too much of a loaded game for my tastes.

Sorry, Pop.

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AUSTRALIAN spies overseas would be licensed to kill under a proposal by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer.

The laws would give Australian Secret Intelligence Service officers the capacity to defend themselves and to launch attacks with the Australian Defence Force and police stationed overseas.
ASIS officers are currently prohibited by law from carrying weapons or planning or taking part in paramilitary activities.

"This is not to become 007-type of agents, but at least to use weapons in self-defence," Mr Downer said yesterday.

Is it just me, or is anybody else picturing Mad Max in Paris here?

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PHOENIX -- Call it a heart attack on a stick.

Visitors to the Arizona State Fair can climb the Mount Everest of cholesterol with a fried cheeseburger. It's ground beef wrapped around a stick, then wrapped in cheese, coated in batter and deep-fried. The final product looks like an oversize corn dog.

If that's not enough, fairgoers also have the Kaktus Kutter. It's a chunk of hot pepper cheese stuffed inside a green chili, then wrapped in roast beef, turkey or ham. The whole thing is batter-dipped and deep-fried.

For desert, there's always fried Twinkies.

And while the Chinese are flinging their best and brightest into the ether, the Americans are plumbing the great and murky depths of deep-frying any goddamned thing they can shove in their mouths.

I need, NEED, to start my own nation, very soon. Who's coming with?

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- China reached a milestone in human history today with the launch of its first piloted spaceflight into Earth orbit.

Blasting off from a remote space base in the Gobi Desert atop a Long March 2F rocket, a single Chinese astronaut named Yang Liwei is on his way to circle the planet every 90 minutes aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft.

As a result, China has become only the third nation on Earth capable of independently launching its citizens into orbit. The former Soviet Union was first in 1961, followed by the United States in 1962.

It is expected the three-part capsule, whose more modern design is largely based on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, will make 14 orbits and remain in space for about 21 hours before executing re-entry and a parachute landing onto Chinese soil.

Liwei, 38, is an avid ice skater and swimmer, according to Chinese news media. He was raised in the northeast province of Liaoning and is the son of a teacher and an official at an agricultural firm.

Whatever the outcome of the flight, Liwei already is a hero to the Chinese people.

Half and half on this one. Psyched, on the first hand, that somebody is still pushing for spaceflight (albeit kinda laughable and primitive spaceflight), but kinda bummed that it's one of the most brutal and totalitarian nations on the planet. Then again, the space race and subsequent interest in extra-atmospheric activities was sparked by a brutal and totalitarian nation, right?

There's a snide comment to make about America in here, but I'll leave it off. Not feeling patriotic or anything; just not quite drunk enough for adolescent cheap shots at one of Am's better attempts at being bigger than itself, at a time when this place seemed on the cusp of being something of the golden Utopia that we've always promised ourselves we'd make of it.

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Just 'cause this looks like a nice way to get around.

Talk to you tonight.

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Monday, October 13, 2003


Okay, if you go here, you can build your own slotcar track and then race a parrot.

Pretty cool.

Rode my bike to work and back today, so I'm beat. So I'm out.

Sweet dreams, Internet.

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google.com 34 64.15%
search.yahoo.com 9 16.98%
google.co.uk 2 3.77%
search.netscape.com 2 3.77%
google.ca 2 3.77%
google.nl 1 1.89%
google.com.au 1 1.89%
google.co.il 1 1.89%
aolsearch.aol.com 1 1.89%

Recent search engine sites that have bumped people over here. Just curious to me, really. Wondering what some kid in Australia or India looked up that sent him into my little page.


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Transmetropolitan Replica UV-Coated Glasses. DC Direct, sold out everywear. In mint condition, comes in original box. Never worn by anybody ever.

Dude, I so deserve these. And you never see 'em on ebay. And, like, when you do, they go for like a hundred bucks. And, like, my birthday's coming up...

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I think my first viewing of "Better Off Dead" was in the late eighties when my college roommate rented the video. I always liked old Camaros, so the shots of Lane's black '67 Camaro stuck in my mind. After college, I moved to Florida and I bought my own copy of the movie. Every time I watched it, my curiosity about the Camaro grew more intense. Who owned that car when it was used in the movie? Where is that car now? What shape is it in? In November of 2001, my curiosity reached a peak. I decided to make a serious search to find the "Better Off Dead" Camaro.

Yup, this is a guy who fought with the DMV, hired private detectives and coldcalled all over Cali in search of a penis-stretcher with John Cusack's assprint on the front seat. You have to admire that kind of dedication. There are pictures. Go, look. Enjoy.

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This is an apartment for the ULTIMATE Star Trek Fan. Originally a Studio Apartment but after just over 3 years it has been transformed into the interior of the starship Enterprise. Designed and built by interior designer Tony Alleyne the Star Trek Apartment has made world news and been featured on many television and radio shows around the world. The apartment will also be featured in the TREKKIES 2 film directed by Roger Nygard and starring Denise Crosby who played Tasha Yar in Star Trek TNG. More info at www.trekdoc.com The apartment also has voice activated lighting fitted, supplied by www.vossystems.com - For someone looking for traditional living and design features this is NOT for you. For someone looking to own something just a little bit different.....WELL! There are more interior shots at this site: http://community.webshots.com/user/aja24 For all enquiries about science fiction interior design, please visit: www.24thcid.com

Oh, yeah. Just an ebay kinda day. Seriously, who's looking for this stuff?

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Hey eBay...before you go cancelling my ad why don't you at least read it first? I'm not selling body parts! It's not Uncle Bob's real left nut it's a FAKE LEFT NUT! It's man-made not natural. Good Lord, do you think I would sell poor Uncle Bob's real nut on your damn website? Give me a damn break!

I'd explain, but I think it's pretty self-explanatory. Go, read. You'll laugh, and maybe put in a bid (it's already up to $39.00 with a week left to go).

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MENTOR -- In Mentor, the force should be with one couple that got married last weekend.

The stormtroopers were at the ready, Yoda was there in spirit and even R2D2 put on a tuxedo of sorts.

Cheryl Kilroy and William Varner were getting married in what you might call Star Wars style.

Guys, fer fuck's sake. IT'S A GODDMAN MOVIE. GET A FUCKING LIFE.

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The loner scientist in his lab. Cosmic rays and genetic mutations. Wall-crawling, underwater breathing, flying like a bird.

From Aquaman to the X-Men, science is a staple of comic books.

But could any of that superhero stuff really happen?

BAM! ker-POW! whooosh! Darned if there aren't people who study this for a living.

At least two professors lecture regularly on the subject - one through the lens of physics, the other biology. And this month, two authors further explore the plausibility of pulp heroics in a new paperback, The Science of Superheroes (John Wiley, $15.95).

"Holy test tubes, Batman!" Robin might say. "We're going legit!"

Not so fast, Boy Wonder.

Y'know, I think most of us have always been perfectly content growing up the idea that comic book science was almost complete bullshit (although I can't have been the only kid who hit puberty utterly convinced that he was going to develop those mutant powers any day now), but it's still interesting to see what actual science there is behind the sheer folly of Stan Lee & company.

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I know it's unbearably testosterone, but, man, I want one of these so bad...

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6:24, 10.13.03, bottom of the fourth, the Sox just went up 1 against the Yankees. Man, the Sox and the Cubbies; wouldn't that be something?

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Just to let you know, really. My pal REVS comes in at #4, PsychoJames comes in at #9, Pal A's pop was #6, and I'm not quite sure what they mean by #5, but I'm gonna say car messenger comes in there somewhere and leave it at that.

Really, it's a wonder I'm still alive.

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WASHINGTON (AFP) - Identical letters signed by different soldiers describing their accomplishments in Iraq (news - web sites) have been appearing in newspapers across the United States.

It was unclear who wrote the letter or organized sending it, USA Today reported. The letter-writing campaign could violate military ethics if it was intended to sway public opinion.

The letter from soldiers in the Kirkuk-based Second Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment said the northern city had become "our home away from home."

"The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored, and we are a large part of why that happened," the letter said. "The majority of the city has welcomed our presence with open arms."

Identical letters have appeared in 11 newspapers, the daily said.

Hoboy. Look, anybody out there who hasn't read 1984 should rush out and do so, right goddamned now. Jr. and his crew have made a study of it, although they seem to think that nobody is gonna notice.

Go read this article. Towards the bottom it describes a platoon sergeant passing the letter around and asking troops to sign it, and a soldier who didn't know that he'd sent such an eloquent letter to his hometown paper until his father called to congratulate him for it.

Seriously, kids, can you say My government lies to me?

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BEIJING, Oct. 12 — Amid all the clutter that has been rocketed into space is a clunky satellite expected to circle the Earth until 2070. The satellite, the Dong Fang Hong, was the first ever launched by China, in 1970, and is also an extraterrestrial boombox: It broadcasts into the cosmos the strains of the Maoist anthem, "The East is Red."

If China becomes the third nation to send an astronaut into space, as it plans to do on Wednesday, its top leaders will be sending a new message, to two audiences.

To the rest of the world, China is displaying its growing technological prowess, staking its claim to a future role in space and reasserting its case for being considered a power equal to the United States.


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Sunday, October 12, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 11 — An anti-American cleric, whose forces clashed on Thursday with American soldiers and killed two of them, has proclaimed his own government in Iraq.

The move failed to produce any signs of popular support on Saturday but did appear to notch up his defiance of the American-led occupation.

Mainstream Iraqi leaders roundly condemned the announcement by the cleric, Moktada al-Sadr. The Baghdad City Council denounced it, as did members of the Iraqi Governing Council, the overall leadership body appointed by the United States.

Mr. Sadr, 30, is evidently challenging the authority of the Governing Council while trying to build a following among poor and alienated Iraqis among the Shiites Muslims, who make up a majority of the country's population.

"We don't think Mr. Sadr is serious about what he's going to do," Iyad Allawi, president of the council, told reporters here. "This council is legitimate."

At the same news conference, Adel Abdul Mahdi, another council member, said, "In our opinion, the Governing Council is the representative of the Iraqi people at this time."

Mr. Mahdi is also a senior member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, led by clerics more moderate than Mr. Sadr and who, in fact, have criticized him in the past.

Mr. Sadr is the son of a revered Shiite cleric who was killed in 1999, many believe on Saddam Hussein's orders. He made his announcement during his weekly sermon on Friday in Kufa, near Najaf, a city south of Baghdad considered holy by the Shiites.

Not saying anything, just pointing it out.

Well, one thing: this just isn't gonna end any time soon.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An apparent suicide car bomb Sunday detonated on a side street near the Baghdad Hotel killing at least six people and wounding 32, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

The hotel is believed to house U.S. officials. Iraqi police forces fired on the car as it sped through a checkpoint and down a side street near the hotel, preventing the vehicle from reaching its apparent target, said Col. Peter Mansoor, a U.S. Army spokesman at the scene.

"As far as I know, there were no casualties inside the hotel, and the building was undamaged," Mansoor said. "They did their job, and they prevented a greater loss of life. The security worked."

Ahmed Kathmn, a senior official of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, said most of the six dead were Iraqi police and security personnel. It was unclear whether the driver was included in that death toll.

Kathmn and a doctor at nearby Kindi hospital said 32 people were wounded in the attack.

So, do you think the Iraq War era protest music will be as good as the Vietnam War era protest music? I mean, Limp Bizkit ain't Jefferson Airplane, but they sure scream a hell of a lot more.

Can we actually make an equation in which Fred Durst = Grace Slick? Hmm.

Tick, tick, tick...

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CONCORD, N.C. -- Jeff Smith, 43-year-old pastor of Young Memorial Baptist Church, is on a 400-mile journey -- by horse -- in an effort to encourage debate over Darwin's evolutionary theories and academic freedom in U.S. classrooms.

According to an article in the AgapePress, in Concord, Smith embarked on his "Creation Quest Journey for Academic Freedom," a three-week, 400-mile horseback ride that he hopes will encourage people nationwide to reconsider the prevalence of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in modern science education.

Smith believes creationism should be taught alongside the theory of evolution. "I'm not saying they should kick evolution out," Smith said in the article. "What they need to do is teach the scientific facts. If they do that, evolution will fall by the wayside."

The pastor-activist says the public schools' exclusion of creationism from America's science classrooms is a form of discrimination. He said public education in America is ruled by "a philosophy that presupposes that there is no God, and we need to change that."

Throughout his journey, Smith is stopping at churches and preaching his Creation Quest message. He will conclude his journey in Washington, D.C.

Posting this only to infuriate myself, and also to point out that it's a press release not in any kinda major news organ, but in a site that's dedicated to evangelistic bible-thumpers.

*Bah* Zealotry, in any corner, has an unpleasant taste.

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Saturday, October 11, 2003

'If God had intended us to drink beer, He would have given us stomachs.' - David Daye.

Beer, beer, beer, beer....Beer, beer, beer, beer....Beer, beer, beer, BEER, beer, beer, beer, beer....

Morning y'all. Isn't it a lovely day?

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Thursday, October 09, 2003

10. Comic Books
Public Humiliation: 49.5%
Our studies show that comic book geeks are normally solitary, but engage in very noisy arguments when gathered in numbers. These are usually based on the most recent superhero movie, and how much it sucked. This sucking is always measured in direct relation to the number of continuity problems between it and an issue of The Incredible Hulk, which to be honest, had some problems of its own like the Abrams tank with the completely wrong size smoothbore turret and the Hulk’s hair just all of a sudden being parted the other way! Safety Tip: If your comic book geek isn’t loudly complaining about something, check carefully – you might have blacked out and killed it.
Damage to Sex Life: 68.7%
When you’re finished showing someone your chart of all the ways Magneto’s hat in X-Men 2 was incorrect, it’s going to be a long, uphill battle to then have sex with them. And to make matters worse, the faulty shape of the dong port in the movie’s version of Magneto’s hat will make having sex with it even harder.

Distinguishing Characteristics: Comic book geeks wear a uniform of a faded Green Lantern t-shirt and a confrontationally unkempt appearance.

The tenth of a Top 10 list of humiliating hobbies. I'm putting up the link and defending myself by saying my sex life has improved a couple thousand % since I got back into comics and leaving it right at that.

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Looked in the mirror last night/and all I saw was a pretty blonde

Sorry, still EELS. Electro Shock Blues. I dug Beautiful Freak, but this other one is hitting me in all kinds of weird places. Dig and dig and dig, despite being kinda sad.

Yeah, so just got off the phone with MikE! who's sounding his good self, as always. I miss that fuckin' hippy. One more reason to head back East sometime before the sparkle and new of Jet City wears off. Want to be able to stand with my feet in both worlds, if you know what I mean.

Yeah, that's it. Just here and it's raining a bit and the Sox are losing to the Yanks (which'll make Dad happy, but, man, I'd love to be able to call and gloat a little) and my monkey is just about two hours from home and I'm thinking about Magnolia 'cause MikE! mentioned it 'cause of the whole rain of frogs deal from a couple days ago and, y'know, just kinda here and thinking that I'm either in the kickstart phase of a new life or entrenching myself into the patterns of the old, and I'm not quite sure how to jump, honestly. Do new things, new experiences, make a new life? Does new love make you see differently?

Dunno. Love my monkey, miss my kids, dig Jet City, itching to hit the Apple. It's either a wash or a balance. Not sure which.

Out, for now. Probably be back later. Have yerself a little bit 'o fun, okay?

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PORTLAND -- A legally blind and partially disabled woman is suing the Portland Police Bureau over claims of police brutality.

Eunice Crowder (pictured) says four officers roughed her up and threw her to the ground on June 9.

The officers were called when she reportedly refused to allow city workers to clean up yard debris. The 71-year-old says she was hit with pepper spray and stung by a taser gun. Her prosthetic eye reportedly fell out during the incident.

I know it's wrong, but it's the "Her prosthetic eye reportedly fell out during the incident." line that hooked me into this one. That and that it's only a few hours South of here. Sometimes love this joint, sometimes just wonder what everybody's smoking.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide car bomber crashed a white Oldsmobile into a police station in Iraq's largest Shiite Muslim enclave Thursday, killing himself, nine others and wounding as many as 45. Earlier, gunmen — one dressed as a Muslim cleric — shot and killed a Spanish military attache.

The violence, six months to the day after Baghdad fell to American forces, underscored the predicament of a capital whose deliverance from Saddam Hussein's tyranny has been repeatedly undermined by terrorism, attacks on U.S. forces and sectarian unrest.

The ancient city's landscape is now lined with massive concrete blast barriers and coils of barbed wire outside hotels, government departments and along stretches of road near U.S. military bases.

As in previous attacks, there was no claim of responsibility for the 8:30 a.m. bombing in Sadr City, a Baghdad district with an estimated 2 million Shiites.

"It was a huge blast and everything became dark from the debris and sand. I was thrown to the ground," said Mohammed Adnan, who sells watermelons opposite the police station.

I'm ashamed to say that I was beginning to forget. I wish I knew who to say 'sorry' to.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2003

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- In the basement of a building down an alley here floats the future of bioengineered pets, and it is glowing.

In a corner, small fish flit about in a dozen aquariums. Bill Kuo, a manager at Taikong Corp., draws a thick curtain and switches on black lights over the tanks. Suddenly, the fish glow a bright green. "Imagine you come home from work, turn out the lights and look at these," Mr. Kuo says. "It's very relaxing."

Fluorescent fish are just one of the latest off-the-wall innovations to come along in the biotechnology march. American researchers are seeking approval for a super-size salmon, retooled with growth hormones. A Canadian company, Nexia Biotechnologies Inc., is injecting spider genes into goats to produce milk that can be refined and woven into "BioSteel," for use in surgical sutures and "ballistic protection," the company says. Another Canadian group has trademarked the name "EnviroPig" for its genetically modified swine, whose manure contains fewer phosphates, a natural pollutant.

But Taikong's fish, which hit the market in Taiwan last month, may well be the world's first genetically modified house pets -- certainly the first designed to glow in the dark and one of the first leisure-time applications for genetic engineering. Born in a Taiwan biologist's lab in 2001 and written up in a scientific journal, the fish were soon discovered by Taikong, a 20-year-old company that sells aquarium equipment and fish food to shops around the world.

Willis Fang, Taikong's president, thought the appeal of the little green fish might go beyond research. He made plans to bring them to market as "Night Pearls," along with a whole line of products for the fish, such as black-lit tanks, fluorescent plastic coral and "fluorescent fish pellets" for food.

Okay, so, yeah, cool fish and all, but man, check out that paragraph about crossing sheep with spiders. Finally, the sci-fi age is coming our way. Can't wait for the teleporters and ray guns.

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NEWPORT NEWS -- The name of the state has been misspelled on some Newport News police cruisers since April.

The last "i" was mistakenly omitted from at least 30 decals affixed to patrol cars at the city garage off Oyster Point Road.

In the days after Hurricane Isabel, a patrol officer noticed the Commonwealth of "Virgina" on his car and notified officials, said Allen Ward, acting director of vehicle services.

"We screwed up," Ward said. "It's an 'i.' It's easy to miss."

Really, does this surprise anyone?

"We screwed up, it's an 'i.' It's easy to miss." Man, that just cracks me up.

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Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Oct. 7 — Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austrian-born policeman’s son-turned-actor who began his quest to be governor of California on a TV talk show, won the office late Tuesday, as projected by NBC News based on exit polling. Voters apparently rejected the embattled Gov. Gray Davis in a closely watched, at-times bizarre campaign, calling for change in the direction of the nation’s most populous state and its battered economy, the world’s fifth-largest.

Davis became the first California governor pried from office and only the second nationwide to be recalled, in a remarkable campaign that featured one of the planet’s best-known entertainers and captivated an international audience.

Early tallies showed the recall favored by 1,019,874 voters, or 57.5 percent, and opposed by 755,375, or 42.6 percent.

Other early returns had Schwarzenegger ahead with 951,437 votes; Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante with 548,069; Republican state Sen. Tom McClintock with 225,799; and Green Party candidate Peter Camejo with 32,334.

All right, that's it, everybody out of the pool. If you're not gonna take this whole voting/government thing seriously, then you don't get to play anymore.

Now, everybody in California, spank yourselves, put yourselves to bed without any supper and ground yourselves for the next month.

You morons.

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CHIBA, Japan (AP) -- Sony Corp. (SNE) showed off its PSX, the beefed up PlayStation 2 video-game machine that also works as a DVD recorder, analog TV, digital photo album and music player and goes on sale in Japan late this year for just over $700.

The offering from the Japanese electronics and entertainment giant underlines the intensifying competition in the industry to sell the idea of home digital entertainment that introduces computer functions from the office into the living room.

The PSX, slated for sale next year in the U.S. and European markets, took center stage Tuesday at the Sony booth at CEATEC Japan, an annual major electronics show near Tokyo, where Sony's rivals are also showing off their wares.

This would be a LOT more exciting if a facist, steroid-driven chauvanist Austrian hadn't just walked away with the planet's fifth-largest economy.

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WASHINGTON/DENVER (Reuters) - Telemarketers may not dial the 51 million phone numbers on the national "do not call" list while a U.S. appeals court decides whether their free-speech rights are being violated, the court said on Tuesday.

The decision clears the way for the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the popular anti-telemarketing program, which had been thrown into legal limbo by a lower court decision days before it was to take effect.

The legal status of the list is still not resolved as the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver must determine whether it unconstitutionally discriminates between commercial and charitable calls, which are not subject to the no-call rule.

But until then, the FTC will be able to fine telemarketers up to $11,000 for each time they call numbers on the list. Consumers will be able to sign up if they have not yet done so, and thousands of telemarketing companies that still do not have the list will be able to purchase a copy.

Oh fer fuck's sake. My head hurts now. Look, instead of all this legal manuvering, how about we just give the telemarketers a three-day head start, absolved in perpetuity anyone who makes it to either Canada or Mexico (or anywhere out of the States, for that matter) and then just have a freefire session on the rest.

Really, that should take care of everything nicely.

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Coming home today, this blonde girl, maybe 20, 21, gets on @ around the kids' hospital and then jumps off like two stops later and I'm noticing that 'cause the stops -- the one she got on at and the one she jumped off at -- are only a few blocks apart, and it seems silly to drop $1.50 to save yourself a little walk up the hill. So, yeah, we're pulling away and she flips the bird at the bus, looks all angry and prissy and man, that was just sad. Like, she got one looking kinda pissed and apparently her bus ride did nothing to help. And I've gotta wonder what happened, right? Like, did her boy bust up with her between the hospital and 45th? Did somebody grope her or stare her down or refuse to clean their shit off the seat for her? Weird, that. Maybe the bus driver gave her shit 'cause she couldn't find her pass and kicked her off or...shit, I dunno. Too many possiblities. Felt bad fer her, though. Just rotten to hafta get off the bus in such a state that you flip it off. Although I can understand the urge. The 70 today was driven by some crazy shithead who slammed on the brakes EVERY time we came to a stop. I've never seen so many about-to-disembark bus riders nearly go through the windshield.

But, yeah, so that's kinda sad and I'm listening to EELS again which isn't exactly perking me the fuck up and so I get off @ 60th to walk down the hill a little and get some fucking exercise and I look up and there's this rainbow arcing from one end of the horizon to the other, rising from the craggy mountains of clouds in the northern sky and flying off to only God knows where.


I'll always love the East, but the West gives me small gifts. I may well make a mistress of this place.

Out for beers, but back soon.

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Y'know, I haven't the slightest idea what this picture is all about, but I figured it was a pretty damned comical way to start the day.

Have a nice'n, y'all. I'll talk to you tonight.

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Monday, October 06, 2003

TAMPA, Fla. -- A planned Internet broadcast of a concert and suicide of a terminally ill person was ruined Saturday because of server problems, but the band leader at the center of the controversial events said he did not know if the suicide occurred as scheduled anyway.

Billy Tourtelot, the bandleader of Hell on Earth, said Saturday night that his group performed at an undisclosed St. Petersburg location as scheduled and that he was unaware of the Internet problems until after the show.

Tourtelot said the suicide was scheduled to take place at a separate location, which he also refused to reveal. It was not shown on the band's Web site as planned, but that did not necessarily mean it didn't happen, Tourtelot said.

This one is stuck somewhere between crass (really, REALLY fucking crass) commercialism and a personal rights/first amendment issue. It's odd. Go check out the story and you'll see what I mean. All kinds of legal action has been tossed out over this stupid thing and honestly, no matter how ludicrous a bunch of fucking Floridian metal shitheads trying to broadcast a suicide might seem to me, I can't help but feel that some very heavy civil rights shit has been trampled here. Seriously, go, read. I think you might agree.

And if you don't, then fuck ya.

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CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. -- Four people were injured Sunday when a fight reportedly broke out in a Central Falls church during Mass, according to a report.

The incident happened at Saint Ephraim's Church on Washington Street, WJAR-TV reported. Police said something set off a family feud in the pews. The situation turned to chaos, with fists flying and parishioners looking for cover.

Man, I bug out for Jet City and the whole fucking East Coast goes out of its mind.

Makes a fella feel special.

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Just got mail from Brother MikE! Man, that shit just makes shit so much better. So, yeah, lil' sis, rhythm brother and cuzin Chaz. A family kinda day.

I'm out for a spell, kidlins. Entertain thyselves.

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A Sky News correspondent who resigned after faking a report on the war in Iraq has been found dead at his home.
James Forlong, 44, was discovered by his wife Elaine just after 0230 BST on Saturday at Hove in East Sussex.

Mrs Forlong said on Wednesday that her husband had been "shattered" after losing his job.

In a statement, Mrs Forlong said that she and their 15-year-old son Christopher - who has Down's Syndrome - and 12-year-old daughter Katie were in a state of shock.

Y'know, I stopped paying attention to this a little while ago, but it's remarkable how many reporters (especially Brit reporters) attached to the Iraq war have turned up croaked, mostly for "normal" reasons. I dunno if I smell a conspiracy, but I'm pretty glad I haven't pursued the reporting gig. 'specially the Brit reporting gig. I don't really wanna be dead 'cause of Jr's hissy fit, y'know?

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NEW YORK — Got change for a $20 bill? The U.S. government does and will roll out the revamped note this week, backed by a $30 million marketing campaign to alert businesses and enlist consumer help in the battle against counterfeiting.

The new bill eliminates the frame around a larger portrait of Andrew Jackson; it adds a subtle blue eagle and other color images. Click here for larger photos.

On Thursday, about $19 billion worth of the bills — with a new watermark, color, security thread and unframed Andrew Jackson — go into distribution. The marketing includes TV ads, a sweepstakes and, in a government first, product placement in TV shows.

Because this is EXACTLY where we, as a nation, need to be spending $30 million, right? Starving kids? Fuck 'em. Make sure that the people who've GOT money aren't all shocked by it. Idiocy. Complete fucking idiocy.

Can't wait to get my hands on one, though. Can't remember the last time I held a whole $20 in my hands...

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The web search engine Google has quietly started placing a counter on its home page to help people keep track of how much they use the service.

Most Google users do not have it, but a select few have a no-frills counter that notes the number of searches they have completed.

Google says the counter is just a test, and compares it to airlines tracking frequent flyers. However, some privacy experts are worried the counter could be used to spy on users.

The counter is placed on computer hard drives by a cookie, a software file that a website places without the recipient's permission or notification and that transmits information back to the site. "If the number contains more than three digits," the counter notes, "you truly are a Google frequent searcher".

Google, which processes about 200 million searches a day for free, said the counter had been placed on the hard drives of fewer than 1 per cent of its users.

Not on mine (although there's a BLOGGER button on the downloadable google toolbar). Are you one of the illustrious one percent?

(Y'know, I'm a little disappointed, really.)

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NEW YORK -- On May 23, 1903, 100 years after Meriwether Lewis got his marching orders from President Thomas Jefferson, another historic American journey began -- the first coast-to-coast automobile trip.

Now, another hundred years later, master filmmaker Ken Burns and writer David Duncan have brought the little-known adventure of Horatio Nelson Jackson to life. "Horatio’s Drive: America’s First Road Trip" premieres at 9 p.m. Monday on PBS.

"This is a country that loves firsts, that loves its cars, and that loves road trips," said Burns from Florentine Films, his Manhattan headquarters. "Why we aren’t taught about the first automobile road trip, I just can’t figure out."

Burns learned of the story in 1990 from Duncan, who spent nearly a decade locating photographs, scrapbooks and finally Jackson’s granddaughters, who still had his many letters home. Those letters reflect Jackson’s humor, his affection for his wife Bertha and, most importantly, his unflagging optimism in the face of seemingly insurmountable car troubles and navigational snafus.

I heard an interview with Burns about this thing a few months ago. Sounds pretty fucking cool, actually. Go check, then check back. Give me your words and your thoughts...

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Listening to EELS and drinking a Henry Weinhard's ale and it's raining and gray and the bus was filled with wan-faced college kids cruising from campus to the student housing up the street and I came in the door of the apt and it smelled like sugar and sweet and my baby left the lights on for me and there was a letter from the little sis filled with Poor Bear font and news from the East and, and, and shit, I'm blue for no fucking reason beyond music and atmosphere and I hate, Hate, HATE coming home to an empty home 'cause I love my baby, love my girl, love my monkey and want to just hold her all the night long.

And, dammit, I'm still missing my kids.


Gonna go see what FARK's got to say today. Never mind me. Gotta get off that fucking bus, I think.

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Sunday, October 05, 2003

Okay, so look, listen, whatever, look, here's the problem, right? History can't be accurate, ever. Period. 'Cause, look, right, you've got what happened, and you've got why, maybe, but the why is predicated on looking at what you think happened, and then searching out a cause. From that perspective, history is just chasing your ass around corners. So, yeah, like an accurate history would have to involve knowing what the fuck was going while it was going on, really, like you'd have to have a reporter strapped down with camcorder, voicecorder, notebooks, pens, satellite uplinks, laptop with uplink modem for previous, etc. for EVERY person on the fucking planet doing anything, which, of course, includes pretty much everyone. So, yeah, you'd need to double the population of the planet just to keep accurate tabs on it.

'Cause, listen, look, you can't know what's going on after the fact. You can't. You can maybe know 70% of what happened, and maybe you can convince yourself that that's enough, but it's not ever, really, gonna be enough. Ever. Doesn't work like that. Like, seriously, what were the last couple hours in Hitler's bunker like? For real. We figure we know, stories about cyanide pills and pistols up against the soft palette, but, really, it's just supposition. And, honestly, if you're a sociopath that most of the world is looking for, being dead is awfully convenient, wouldn't you say?

So, yeah, we can't know what's happened, and so it follows that we don't know what's happening now, which automatically implies that we'll never be able to know what's going to happen next. So, yeah, we're fucked. Seriously fucked. We can't see what we've done, don't know what we're doing right now and we'll never have the faintest fucking idea of what we're going to do, right?

Okay, so, as flawed as our record-keeping process is, we just keep on doing it 'cause we've got shitty memories and we know that we'll lose track of things if we don't. And the Web is kinda funny 'cause it's just that thought taken to an extreme. Really, take away the flash games and the porn (which, yes, is a goodly damned chunk of the web I admit), and mostly what you've got is a giant information dump in the form of archived reports, blogs, photos, news stories, press releases, webjournals, critiques, reviews, etc, etc. Endless shit.

The problem is, and I think this has become more and more apparent over the last decade or so, that no (or almost no) news sources (or bloggers or reviewers or whatever) are unbiased, nor are their viewers (readers, whatever), so even if the facts of a particular matter are straight, their interpretation will be twisted in a thousand different ways, the causes will be in dispute, the outcomes will be argued over, figures involved will be afforded differing signifigance in the reportage, again based on personal bias in the mind of the reporter(s). But regardless of the inherent flaws, it's really all we've got.

And somewhere in this, from this, we're supposed to glean some information about the world around us. Specific information about things that are happening. Events, as we like to call 'em. But we already know the context, right? We know that green means go and you don't eat the garnish and it's not polite to pinch gramma's ass in public. Imagine, if you will, trying to figure out reportage of the world without that context as a backdrop. I refer to Seattle for this one, 'cause it's one of those things that you're just supposed to know. Parking signs. Nearly all of 'em read something like "No Parking East of Here". Or West of here. Or wherever of here. Which isn't a big deal to figure out once you've lived here a little while (there's water in the middle of town, so as long as you know where that is, you've got a pretty good idea as to which way is which), but until then it's just one of those things you look at and drool.

You get it, right? It's late and I'm kinda tired, so bear with me. This is important. Essentially, there is no history. Really. The documents and accounts are so flawed as to be practically insignificant and the interpretation of them is so riddled with personal likes and dislikes as to make all but the most intrinsic data (and I'm talking like the sun is bright, ice is cold, beef is dead cow, like that) is suspicious. And, most importantly, we, you and me and whoever else is reading this, don't know the context of these things. We don't know the life of a seventeenth-century bootblack or a fifth-century priest or a third-century prostitute. We can be told the basics (name, sometimes, some family, perhaps location, sometimes manner of death), but we don't know the smells and tastes and feels of those worlds. We don't know what made people happy or what made them sad (and dude, if you even THINK about arguing that one, try to picture future historians puzzling over Pokemon games or botox price charts), we don't know why the politics of the day could matter so passionately to them, we don't why they worked so hard to live lives that ended hundreds of years ago. That's all the past; how the hell could it matter?

None of this is really new news, but I was working on the travelling spaceman/oral history thing tonight and it struck me kinda hard. That we're all working so hard to do stuff that nobody'll ever be able to figure out for real. Seriously, try to picture your life as viewed by some archeologist a couple centuries from now.

Really, it's pretty goddamned funny.

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Wearing full battle gear and carrying weapons, the men would have sunk instantly after being killed on impact.

Colonel Basuki said the four-man crew flying the helicopter were not Kopassus soldiers, although he declined to say which section of the army they belonged to.

There would be an inquiry into the accident, he said.

Well, shit, why not, right? Just 'cause the fuckers're depending on you to keep 'em alive...

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Saturday, October 04, 2003

BERLIN, Conn. - Hurricane Isabel brought unholy high winds and lashing rain to the East Coast. It also dumped something almost biblical on Connecticut.

Primo D'Agata was startled by what he thought was hail smacking on his porch Sept. 19 as the remnants of Isabel moved through the state. But when he went outside to investigate, D'Agata discovered tiny, gelatinous eggs with dark spots in the middle.

It had apparently been raining frogs.

Ah, Connecticut. Nice to see it's gotten a little weirder since I left.

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SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 3 — A civil liberties watchdog group is expressing concern over the San Francisco Public Library’s plans to track books by inserting computer chips into each tome. Library officials approved a plan Thursday to install tiny radio frequency identification chips, known as RFIDs, into the roughly 2 million books, CDs and audiovisual materials patrons can borrow.

Y'know, five years ago nobody was even thinking about doing this kind of shit. Now it's more a matter of how you sneak the shit in while nobody's looking. I very much need to start my own island nation.

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Friday, October 03, 2003

Section 1. The House of Representatives does hereby encourage the formation of the Kentucky Navy and subsequently immediately encourages the purchase and armament of one particularly effective submarine, namely, the USS Louisville 688 VLS Class Submarine, to patrol the portion of the Ohio River under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth to engage and destroy any casino riverboats that the submarine may encounter.

Section 2. The House of Representatives does hereby authorize the notification of the casino riverboat consulate of this Resolution and impending whoopin' so that they may remove their casino vessels to friendlier waters.

This appears to be the real deal, although nearly everything can be faked in this day and age. Still and all, it's nice to think of nuclear submarines patrolling the Ohio River, ready to sink gambling boats left and right. That kind of thing doesn't happen nearly enough to satisfy this Jet City boy.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2003

So, yeah, I'm riding the 74 to home and we(busdriverotherpassengers&me)'re sitting at the corner of Sand Point and 55th and this guido crewcut scowl in a pair of Gargoyles goes accelerating by in a maybe decade-old 911 and just when I'm laughing at him for being a penis for trying to look toughguy and everything this brand-brand-new 325i comes whipping around from the left, downshifting and pumping the revs to sprint past my chariot of the poor, and that one's scowling too and I'm wondering just why the fuck we all (guys, boys, men) hafta make all these fucking faces when we're driving fast and trying to look tough and I'm trying to convince myself that when I was a real driver, back in the day, and I took a corner hard & fast & lean I was smiling like a motherfucker, grinning from ear to goddamned ear, loving the feel of my head going one way and my ass going another way and the nose of my machine was pointed true straight, hammer down and gone.

I dunno if that's the truth, but I'm trying to believe it. Others would probably disagree.

Here's the problem: Bus-riding is essentially contemplative. Beyond the stress of figuring out whether or not I've got the right change to pay the till or finding an empty seat during rush hour, there's not a lot of conflict involved. You seat in your seat, you read your book, listen to your headphones, you lurch as the bus accelerates and decelerates, you look out the window and check out the kids on the Ave. or the shops or people on bikes. You sit and try to find something to do with your hands, mainly.

Driving, conversely, is almost entirely dynamic. Especially the sort of driving I've done in my past (this is the sort of thing that pretty much all my friends will attest to, and say nasty things about; right, guys?). And as I'm sitting on the bus today, thinking about those days (especially those days of messengering, which those of you who've read the archives will recall, I'm sure), I'm realizing that some essential energy left me when I gave up my car (and the deadly passionate energy of the East Coast) and relegated myself to public transport, pedal power and shank's mare. I've gained more than I've lost, and I finally find myself in a position to take care of someone as much as someone is taking care of me, but the Tristate testosterone daydream boy inside of me is still itching for a revving engine to control, congested roads to fight and the mad screaming fight-or-flight cry of the mob surrounding me. In this gentle place, I'm looking for a brawl and I'm not finding it.

Which isn't bad, but it struck me as funny on the way home today.

Oh, yeah. Everybody says "Thank you" to the bus driver when they disembark. Even the people who get off in the back. It's very sweet.

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Sneaking on railroad cars as a means of transportation is a lifestyle that isn't for everyone. In fact it's outlawed in every state. But there is a loose-knit family of old and young, men and women, who still consider themselves hoboes.

And being considered a hobo, or a rail-rider, isn't something Charles Gill of Rainbow City tries to hide, at least if the person asking doesn't work for a railroad company.

The retired General Motors employee, known by his hobo moniker as Hobo Spike, was crowned Hobo King last month at the 2003 National Hobo Convention held in tiny Britt, Iowa. The gathering is attended by as many as 40,000 spectators. But typically about 100 real-life hoboes - with names like Steam Train Murray, Connecticut Shorty and Squirrely Shirley - attend. The convention has been held every year since 1900 in Britt, in the middle of the mostly rural state known for its seemingly endless cornfields.

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