Wednesday, December 31, 2003

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Wednesday it would soon take over Halliburton's role of getting fuel into Iraq, a decision that follows a draft Pentagon audit that found Vice President Dick Cheney's old firm may have overcharged for the job.

The Pentagon's Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) said it had expanded its traditional mandate of providing fuel to the U.S. military and would now be responsible for importing and distributing fuel products to the Iraqi people.

Ding dong, the witch is....well, not dead, but it's awfully nice to see that the Pentagon is willing to break ranks with the current regime. Seriously, all the backdoor deals and nepotism was getting a little over the fucking top, dontcha think?

Anyway, I'm out for Pal A's for barbeque (Psycho James is cookin' critter in the cold, apparently) and Risk and Rummy, and, oh yes, much booze. Enjoy thyselves, children, and try not to kill anyone, okay? There's enough of that shit going on in the rest of the world...

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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Man, been a little while since I posted, huh?

Sorry 'bout that. Xmas brought with it a new PS2, courtesy of Pops and Marian, so Billyhank's been neck deep in GTA Vice City and Final Fantasy X for the last week or so. And 'fore that, umm....shit, shut up. Fuck you. You're not my real dad.

Yeah, so I'm very worried about the stuff I posted below, 'bout News Corp (read: Rupert Murdoch/Fox Network) buying a controlling share of DirecTV. Just flipped past Fox News, which showed a very worried-looking reporter posted at Jr's Crawford ranch talking about the amount of time and money that's going to be spent over the next few days "protecting" the country from "terrorist" attacks. In the middle left of the screen was a gigantic graphic, blood red, reading TERROR LEVEL: HIGH or something to that effect. I flipped past the other news channels ('round here that's CNN, Headline News, MSNBC & CNBC), wondering if something new was going on. Nope. Nobody else was showing a similar graphic. Nobody else is buying into it, thank God.

So Ridge gets the word from the White House to bump the level of national paranoia (that, by the way, is the "chatter" that Ridge is always talking about that indicates whether to raise or lower the NORAD thing), 'cause Jr. probably thinks that he can keep coming up with bullshit to keep people scared for the next year, so he can slide through the '04 election. And, goddamit, he's probably right, 'cause all you shitheads are falling for it, aren't you? You're putting off plans and watching the newspaper and glancing through your peripheral vision at anybody in a turban and when News Corp puts out the big story that Air France is bringing terrorists from Paris to LA you swallow it whole, don't you? ('cause, of course those fucking frogs could care less 'bout terrorists striking good 'ol 'mmmmurica, right?) And so you're sitting around scared, thinking, "Jesus, what kind of shape will we be in if we don't have a strong man in the white house?" Instead of showing some balls and thinking, "Hmm, facism has risen in countries as 'civilized' as ours in the past, and the thin edge of the wedge that got the leaders into power was pretty much always a perceived threat that was amorphous and frightening and not easily pinned down and shown to the populace." 'Cause you can always keep a populace freaked out. When things are good, people are afraid that someone's jealous of their shit and so they get paranoid to defend it. When things are bad, people get all scared that they're going to lose their house or their job or their whatever and are willing to listen to anyone who'll tell 'em that there's a way out.

Eh, whatever. Look, your country's being taken away from you and you haven't done fuck all to stop it. So five years from now, when you're in federal custody for getting too mouthy about the president, fuck you and fuck you and fuck you. I hope your legs rot off before they stick you in front of a firing squad.

Seriously. Happy fucking new year.

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Saturday, December 20, 2003

The Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department yesterday approved News Corp.'s purchase of Hughes Electronics Corp.'s DirecTV home-satellite system, giving Rupert Murdoch a crucial missing piece in his global satellite empire.

By a vote of 3 to 2, FCC commissioners allowed the $6.5 billion cash-and-stock purchase to go ahead with a number of conditions meant to keep News Corp. from using DirecTV as a lever to raise programming prices to rival cable and satellite companies. The merger gives News Corp. a controlling 34 percent interest in Hughes.

News Corp. is the parent company of the Fox television network, Fox News Channel, FX and Fox Sports regional cable channels. Opponents of the merger feared that News Corp. would raise its programming prices to cable rivals, such as Comcast Corp., or threaten to withhold Fox programming to drive customers away from cable and to DirecTV.

Follow up on the stuff I posted this morning. Somewhere, Lord Vader is steepling his fingers together and laughing his aluminum ass off.

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U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft on Friday cleared Texas to use a new Republican congressional redistricting plan for the 2004 elections -- a devastating blow to Democrats and minorities fighting the plan.

Republican officials praised the decision, but opponents blasted it as the action of a highly partisan Justice Department that "hijacks" minority voting rights for political gain.

Now all that stands in the state's way of using the plan is a federal court lawsuit that challenges the map as a violation of minority voting rights and an extreme partisan gerrymander.

Final arguments in that case are set for Tuesday in Austin. The court Friday threw out a Democratic claim that the U.S. Constitution bars a legislature from doing congressional redistricting more than once every 10 years.

Hey, look...the attorney general of the United States just breezed past the letter and intent of the Constitution to give the Republicans more Congressional seats. Color me just motherfucking amazed.

I just need guns and guns and guns and bombs and guns and a nicely faked governmental ID. Can anybody out there help me out?

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HARTFORD, Conn. -- Gov. John G. Rowland said today his office did not influence the awarding of any state contracts, and said he has disclosed all the of the gifts he knows of receiving from employees and state contractors.

"This governor, and I'm sure other governors in the past, do not call commissioners. We do not try to influence contracts," Rowland said during a news conference. "We have never done that. I have never done that. Period."

Rowland's office released a statement Thursday night that showed he was in a real estate partnership in the late 1990s with three friends, including a state contractor. That paving contractor received about $1.3 million worth of work during Rowland's nine-year tenure. Last week Rowland admitted that some improvements to his summer cottage in Litchfield were paid for by friends and major state contractors, some of whom have been subpoenaed as part of a federal corruption investigation.

Y'know, back when I was running the school newspaper, the last article and editorial I wrote focused on fathead John G. insulting the three thousand state workers he'd just laid off, calling them stupid, lazy and in all ways incompetent (I'm paraphrasing; hunt down the May 20, 2003 edition of the NCC Voice if you'd like exact quotes). This after eight, nine years of financial mismanagement, undertaxing the rich and handing out unrecoverable $250 million loans to Enron, putting the state in its current lamentable fiscal shortfall.

I'd like to think that this'll be the one that takes him down, but I doubt it. John G. grew up poor in Waterbury, beat his way to the top with backdoor deals and shady bullshit and has dirt or the favor of most of the wealthy and influential people in CT. There's a reporter named A.J. O'Connell, working for the Norwalk Hour who's been trying to get some shit on him for a while. Hopefully, with this one, she'll be able to pull it all together.

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WASHINGTON -- News Corp. won federal approval to take over the satellite television provider DirecTV, a move that federal regulators say will mean more competition but opponents contend will speed media consolidation.

The Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission voted along party lines, 3-2, to approve the $6.6 billion deal. Following the FCC's action, announced Friday, the Justice Department said it would not oppose the takeover of the nation's largest satellite TV provider by News Corp., headed by Rupert Murdoch.

"News Corporation has a history of taking significant risks and introducing new and innovative media services," FCC Chairman Michael Powell said. "Enhanced competition will increase pressure to improve service and lower prices for both cable and satellite television subscribers."

In other words, News Corp (which owns Fox Network, Fox News, and the NY Daily News among many, many other media outlets worldwide) has ordered the Republican party to allow them (or him, if you just wanna stick to Rupert Murdoch, who's calling the shots pretty directly) to purchase a satellite provider, apparently to make sure that they won't lose market share with only broadcast, cable, radio, print and internet resources available to them. News Corp has the Republican party in its pocket, as it's pretty much the only network that can be counted on to spin the news in favor of the fatcats and status quo.

If you remember the stink a few months ago about the FCC passing new rules (quickly barred by a nearly united Congress) that allowed media conglomerates to, along with other things, own more than a 35% share of a market, then you should realize that this is simply an end run around the existing rules. DirecTV is currently in direct competition with cable, which is where Fox (i.e. News Corp) has had its biggest impact. So if the guys who have a big piece of the cable market get involved with satellite, where does this leave the public?

Right. Closer and closer to being in the hands of a media monopoly. Seriously, memorize where NPR lives on your radio dial. Pretty soon it's going to be your only outlet for actual news, as opposed to endlessly jingoistic propaganda.

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Thursday, December 18, 2003

Hey there, y'all. Sorry, it's been a while. I've simply been inert, for which there's no real excuse or explination. Reading, a bit. Rereading Cryptonomicon, which I'm thinking has the same kind of cliffhanger ending as Quicksilver. So maybe Stephenson's ending don't really suck; maybe they're all just cliffhangers for the next book. Sure would explain a whole bunch.

So, yeah, having thoughts about goddamned Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, and how it's really just a propaganda film aimed at getting the little kids of the world to become conformist and (especially) pro-American-gov't. Really, seriously. Think about it for a minute, that speech at the end, after the Wonkavator has tossed Willy and Charlie and Grampa Joe into low orbit around whatever little Bavarian town they live in, the speech in which Wonka explains to Charlie that he (Wonka) could never hand the factory over to an adult because they'd "want to change things. They'd want to do it their way. I need a child to make sure that things will stay the way I made them" (or something pretty much like that. I don't have the fucking thing memorized, right?). Man, is that ever the old school American line? You, my son, will inherit this fine nation, just so long as you promise not to fuck with it in any way whatsoever.

The insidious thing is that it plays itself out as an anthem for the counterculture ("It's everybody's non-pollutionary, anti-institutionary, pro-confectionery factory of fun!" was the tagline, according to IMDB), as this wonderful, magical, blah, blah, blah thing that'll show you the secret to life and happiness. Which, apparently, is to never step out of line, do what you're told and ask for nothing more than a loaf of bread while you secretly desire after everything in the goddamned world. And if you if you do all this stuff, the man up top, the man who holds all the cards (a man in a top hat & tails, much like an Uncle Sam with his Red, White & Blue replaced with purple velvet and houndstooth) might just let you in on some of his secrets and hand you the reins to his empire (once he's ready to retire, of course, and just so long as you promise to NOT FUCK WITH ANYTHING).

And, no, I'm not reading into this one. Reading into it would point out the little insatiably ravenous German kid getting sucked into a tube fulla semi-liquid brown...stuff...and then getting, um, shat? out into the bowels of the factory (propaganda payback for WWII?), or the little cowboy kid, Mike Teevee ('cause, really, what's more all-American than a cowboy watching television?) getting yanked into the tv (the vacuity of Am culture?), or the gum-chewing girl swelling up from her five-course dinner gum (too easy, really...the gluttony and wealth of the States, I'm thinking, putting us right where we are right now, really) and then whatever the fuck happened to Veruca Salt, which I'm sure I could figure out something for, or the Oompaloompas, small yellowish men who work quickly, cleverly & dilligently for their happy, singing, all-powerful master.

Look, it was 1971. The cold war hadn't quite hit its peak, but it was close. Nixon was on the skids and heading south, fast. The hippies & activists weren't shutting up any time soon, the economy wasn't doing anything to make the American people happy. Typically, nothing was really going all that great. Think about the propaganda value of a movie like this. It wasn't gonna convince the adults or the teenagers to stop thinking for themselves, but it sure as hell was gonna imprint a whole lotta desire to play follow the leader on any kid that's watching. And the really fucked up part is that it still plays all the time on tv, and it's still a fave of little English-speaking kids everywhere.

So, okay, if you've got kids, don't let 'em watch Gene Wilder dancing around and talking about snozzberries. Don't let 'em get brainwashed. Don't let 'em think that the only way they can have something as cool as the Chocolate Factory (locked away from prying eyes, like America's military secrets from the vile Commie bad guys...) is to be given it, and the only way to be in line to get it is to give up personal desire and suck some ass.

Right. Tomorrow, how Winnie-the-Pooh is secretly recruiting for the Church of Satan. Tell all your friends to come on by.

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Sunday, December 14, 2003


BAGHDAD, Iraq, Dec. 14 - Saddam Hussein, the deposed Iraqi leader, was captured in a raid on a farm near Tikrit on Saturday night, American military officials confirmed today.

``We got him,'' American administrator L. Paul Bremer III said at a news conference here.

Coalition troops discovered Mr. Hussein hiding in a hole below a walled compound on the farm, located in the town of Adwar, about 10 miles from his hometown of Tikrit.

Military authorities said that Mr. Hussein had put up no resistance and that not one shot had been fired in the operation. They said they were able to confirm his identity using DNA tests.

Mr. Hussein was being held at an undisclosed location and American authorities had yet to decide whether to hand him over to the Iraqis for trial. Iraqi officials want him to stand trial before a war crimes tribunal created last week.

My liberal affectations and constant suspicions come flying out over this one, so here're the questions:

A. Saddam's used doubles for years. A man in a 6' X 8' hole with guns and money CAN'T have been in there all that long. Is this a double offered up to US forces while Saddam makes a run for it? They can say DNA test all they'd like, but DNA tests only have a % probability, and I'm curious as to whether or not this is 99% or more like 51%.

B. Osama. If you go to this Rueters link, you find a pithy little article that essentially says, no, we're not any closer to finding Osama, and you people really shouldn't expect to see him any time soon.
Kids, please, lets try to remember that Osama's the one that blew up the World Trade Center. Saddam was just another US-backed dictator who made a convienient distraction when the US couldn't find the real guy.

C. Will the Iraqis get to put him on trial? I doubt it. Not for real, anyway. The US wants to exact some blood from someone, and will probably cite Iraq's lack of a working constitution and judicial system (or something, anyway) that will take away the Iraqi's right to put him on trial. 'Cause this is too much of an election plank for Bush to let it slip away.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch-

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 — President Bush has signed legislation that provides for economic and diplomatic sanctions on Syria, but it also allows him to waive the penalties.

Mr. Bush signed the legislation in private on Friday. The White House had opposed the measure until Congress gave him the waiver authority.

Several lawmakers have said they would take a dim view if Mr. Bush used his waiver authority, in view of the wide margins by which the legislation passed.

The bill bars trade in items that could be used in weapons programs until the administration certifies that Syria is not supporting terrorist groups, has withdrawn personnel from Lebanon, is not developing unconventional weapons and has secured its border with Iraq.

This article is worth reading before the freebie link expires, as it goes on to explain, ad infinitum, that all this bill does is allow Bush to jerk Syria around or not, as he sees fit. Seriously. It does nothing more than that.

The amount of power Jr. has is truly appalling. I think Congress is about to pass a bill that allows him to shoot any Democrat or Independent candidate that gets over 35% in the polls...

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Tuesday, December 09, 2003

Heya kids-

Not much that I'm pissed at right now ('sides the usual & constant, anyway). A Nightmare Before Christmas is on the Canadian channel and I'm waiting for it to be time to put on the noodles for the tuna casserole that'll be ready for when Buttons gets home from school and I just spent like 2-3 hours on the phone with the little sis, commiserating and realizing that, yes, Virginia, we do have one motherfucking fucked-up little family unit.

Dunno. Just a day. Rode the bus, worked, came home. Y'know, the shit you do to pass the time between gunfights, making love on the beach and the random coup de tat. Not even much on the web tonight, although I did find this @ readymademag.com, and printed it out fer Buttons-

'cause that actually looks kinda cool, and there's always a fair amount of vinyl to be sorted through 'round here.

And, of course-

The 4X4 Neon that went for $5,700 on ebay.

Yeah, just a day, really. Time to make some noodles. Have a nice night, y'all.

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Monday, December 08, 2003

I really don't know what to say about this, but Jr's personal website has market survey popups.

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Oh my very sweet Jesus. Dead stuff frogs in a threesome. This went for $53.00 on ebay.


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When a couple of Iowa soldiers in Iraq longed for sweet corn, they ended up growing their own - and they helped some Iraqis along the way.

Sgt. 1st Class Ray Reynolds of Denison and Staff Sgt. Jeff Vore of Vining initially just wanted their buddies at home to send the corn.

"It's one thing I miss very much," Reynolds said in an e-mail.

In the past, friends David Proctor of Des Moines, Denny Smith of Indianola and Dennis Westover of West Des Moines had sent beef jerky, sunflower seeds, batteries, nachos and microwave popcorn to Iraq. But they knew sweet corn would be a challenge.

"When Ray made this request, corn was out of season," Proctor said.

So the men contacted Dave Knau of Pioneer Hi-Bred International in Johnston, Iowa.

Knau told them his company doesn't breed or sell sweet corn. But he knew someone who did.

"We went to our supplier, got a few pounds, packaged it up," Knau said.

Pioneer sent two 5-pound packages to Iraq, enough for a small garden, he said.

Guys, I know your intentions were fine, but fer Christ's sake, don't you friggin' farmers understand about ecological balance? Go look at some kudzu or some african violets or a pond fulla carnivorous snakehead fish. You introduce something foreign into an existing ecostructure (especially one that's had as hard a time of it as Iraq's), and it's gonna decimate everything, turn into one more damn weed that chokes out the stuff that's supposed to grow there.

I can already hear the screams of the Sierra Club.

Don't mind me tonight. Just a little fed up with the propaganda.

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Yeah, just listening to The Deacons full blast in my headphones, BROOKLYNTOWNE & the live show @ CBGB's, and Goddammit, we were one motherfucking fine band.

Missing you tonight, brothers, like mad, like always. What say y'all get yer asses out to here and we'll play a show at The Tractor. I'm sure you can get MikE! on tour, just so long as I'm buying the beer...

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In the morning, the glaze-eyed commuter will notice the kayaker and applaud his sense of adventure. Downtown, just south of the Hollywood Freeway, Esmerido Zamora lives on the river in a shelf cut into its banks. His shanty is a homey little affair made of wood, piping and tarpaulin, and it is topped off with an American flag.

Mr. Zamora, 60, is a short man with the build and look of a military officer, which he once was, in Castro's army, with whiskers, eye glasses, clean neck and clean clothes all washed in the river water.

He waves two boaters onto shore and offers a breakfast of homemade bean soup and buttered bread.

"Jesus is coming," Mr. Zamora says after pleasantries are exchanged. Consider, he says, the great fire that recently consumed much of Southern California. The freak hailstorm in Watts. The impending mudslides. The Pacific rains when the river becomes a tempest.

"Man thinks he can control nature," he said, tossing a thumb toward the river. "He cannot."

A society of transients lives on the riverbanks, and they tend to be cleaner and more self-sufficient than the run-of-the-mill mopes on Main Street. The authorities pay them little mind, except when there is a killing. Last month, a woman was found in a drainpipe, raped and stabbed with a screwdriver. A few months before that, another woman was found in a plastic bag.

"Except for that, it's peaceful around here," Mr. Zamora said. He arranges a beer party and makes his visitors promise to come.

Very cool article. Something about Cali, the last couple days. Today a view of LA from a kayak and yesterday that hidden diner built into the back of an old bus. Maybe it's less Cali, and just the essential 'enjoy thyself' verve out here. Something, anyway.

Cool, cool stuff.

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Does it really go in the water? Yes! It most certainly does.

Operating the unit as a Yacht is simple. When entering the water the driver continues moving forward until the wheels float free of the ramp. The road transmission is placed into the neutral position and the marine transmission is placed into drive. Once in the water steering is done with a touch of a joy stick in the cockpit. A rudder angle indicator is located beside the rudder controls so you always know there the steering is set. The front wheels can be used in conjunction with the rudders to improve steering in the water if needed for tight maneuvering. An additional instrument is provided to indicate the angle of the front wheels for landing and turning.

*Sigh* Oh, fer fuck's sake.

Just in case, y'know, yer too fuckin' lazy to bring yer goddamned boat to the lake. And it's funny that the ad copy reads like Engrish; the company's in South Carolina.

Actually, I s'pose that explains it, huh?

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A naked, samurai sword-wielding martial arts expert screaming, "I'm God! I'm immortal" hacked his wife to death yesterday in a blood-soaked Bronx rampage, police said.

When the madman lunged at police, one cop fired 14 shots - bringing down the suspect but also hitting her partner twice. The cop's vest stopped one bullet from hitting his chest, though another slug penetrated his knee.

The wounded cop and suspect were in stable condition last night as relatives mourned 24-year-old Kisha Denton - and wondered what caused her husband almost to decapitate his wife of one year.

More crap gleaned from the web. Hey, anyone else think that maybe the article's a little slanted towards the sensational in that the phrase "blood-soaked" and the word "madman" appear in the first and second 'graphs of the story?

The Daily News is a fucking joke.

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From the brochure:

"This is a fun game of spanking the people that make your life miserable. When you spank the character that you choose to punish, the face expression of the character will change as they scream and twitch in pain. The funny face expressions will make people laugh and relieve stress."

"Characters include: Ex Girlfriend, Ex Boyfriend, Gangster, Mother-In-Law, Gold Digger, Prostitute, Child Molester, Con Artist."

A game, apparently, in which you win by jamming a giant plastic finger into a somewhat slender plastic ass. Just one more thing that you find when you spend a wee bit too much time online.

C'est la vie.

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Sunday, December 07, 2003

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 — Medicare beneficiaries will not be allowed to buy insurance to cover their share of prescription drug costs under the new Medicare bill to be signed on Monday by President Bush, the legislation says.

Millions of Medicare beneficiaries have bought private insurance to fill gaps in Medicare. But a little-noticed provision of the legislation prohibits the sale of any Medigap policy that would help pay drug costs after Jan. 1, 2006, when the new Medicare drug benefit becomes available.

This is one of many surprises awaiting beneficiaries, who will find big gaps in the drug benefit and might want private insurance to plug the holes — just as they buy insurance to supplement Medicare coverage of doctors' services and hospital care.

Congress cited two reasons for banning the sale of Medigap drug policies. Lawmakers wanted to prevent duplication of the new Medicare benefit. They also wanted to be sure that beneficiaries would bear some of the cost. Health economists have long asserted that when beneficiaries are insulated from the costs, they tend to overuse medical services.

Just one more thing to get pissed off about. I really don't know what the hell I'm gonna do if Bush wins in '04. And I'm not sure how to stop him, really.


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SHENZHEN, China — Workers at Kin Ki Industrial, a leading Chinese toy maker, make a decent salary, rarely work nights or weekends and often "hang out along the street, play Ping-Pong and watch TV."

They all have work contracts, pensions and medical benefits. The factory canteen offers tasty food. The dormitories are comfortable.

These are the official working conditions at Kin Ki as they are described on paper — crib sheets — handed to workers just before inspections.

Those occur when big American clients, like the Ohio company that uses Kin Ki to produce the iconic toy Etch A Sketch, visit to make sure that the factory has good labor standards.

Real-world Kin Ki employees, mostly teenage migrants from internal provinces, say they work many more hours and earn about 40 percent less than the company claims. They sleep head-to-toe in tiny rooms. They staged two strikes recently demanding they get paid closer to the legal minimum wage.

The minimum wage, in case you're wondering, is 33 cents an hour. The workers in this factory make 24 cents an hour (The workers in Ohio, who used to make Etch-A-Sketches, were union and got $9 an hour). They work 84 hour weeks, for which they receive no overtime, medical, dental or pension benefits. When they sleep, they're crammed together in company housing. The company they work for claims they have to do this to remain competitive. This is why you can buy $10 Etch-A-Sketchs, $20 shoes and $30 DVD players. Go, read (you might have to register with the Times online, but it's free). You might learn something about how for one person to be rich another person has to be poor (and if you're online reading this, then you're a thousand times wealthier than any of these people will ever be in their short, miserable lives).

Not to put a kibosh on your Xmas festivities ('cause, hey, we do love to spend all our crazy money, no?), but understand how Wal-Mart (of course), Toys-R-Us, Target, K-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit City (and whatever it is all you overseas folk have) can give you so much for so (relatively) little. It's not 'cause they love you, kids.

Right. Out for now. Talk to you soon.

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Locked behind a razor-wire fence, hidden deep within an East Bay industrial zone, lies a secret restaurant where patrons need a golden key.

Part diner, part speakeasy, Joe's "Bustaurant" is an underground boite the Sicilian chef has operated inside a converted 1947 Metro bus for the last six years. You have to know somebody who knows somebody to get in.

Joe serves traditional Italian food under the cover of darkness, on Monday nights during winter, to elude busybodies, food snobs and health inspectors.

"This is the kind of place where you walk in, and everyone says hello," said 41-year-old Joe, a musician who prepares about 35 meals a night. "In here, that's what it feels like you should do."

Joe couldn't operate legally if he wanted to -- there's no fire or health department around that would allow a chef to cook inside a bus on a gas range with people crammed around five tables. He's checked into it.

"The ceiling is too low, the exits are too narrow. The walls are too thin, " Joe said. "I'd have to rip it apart and turn it into something it's not. It would no longer be an antique bus."

VERY fucking cool. Something William Gibson might have thrown into the Sprawl or his round-the-corner Frisco (actually, thinking about it, there were a couple places kinda like this in the Virtual Light trilogy) if he'd given up more pages to social structure and sheer cool, and less to gunplay and stylish dialog. Go read the article. Like I'm saying, VERY fucking cool.

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E*----------------*----------------* Repeat as needed

Bass tab for "Rudie Can't Fail", 'cause, for some reason that's me & Buttons' song. Grabbed it from Matt's Music Page. Thanks, man. Lose the fucking popups, though. Jeez.

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Thursday, December 04, 2003

A 425-million-year-old fossil found in Herefordshire, England, may be the oldest record of an animal that is unarguably male. Scientists report Friday in the journal Science that the tiny crustacean, only two-tenths of an inch long, had an unmistakable penis. In their paper, the scientists name the creature Colymbosathon ecplecticos, which they say means swimmer with a large penis.

Who says the NY Times doesn't have a sense of humor?

Yeah, I think that's all for tonight, kids. Slow day. Or, at least, slow for Billyhank, as the Henry Weinhard's has landed fairly heavily this evening and I've got a piece of fake chicken roasting away. I should be either in bed or screaming at a news crew in the rain by 9:30.

Have yerself some fun, y'all.

p.s. Warren's doing some fun stuff with futurephone blogging over @ diepunyhumans. You should go look, and laugh, and blah, blah, blah.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2003

I don't have a belly button.

The doctor used his navel scooper, carved it out and threw it away. In its place, he left me with a crooked, 6-inch scar. I could be suspected of being an alien. I assume they have mothers, so they must have navels, too.

Mine was a cute little half-innie, half-outie, and it gathered lint that I was saving, hoping one day I would have enough to knit a sweater or a pair of socks. Easy come, easy go.

Here's what happened:

Pretty fascinating article, actually, although for some reason it gives me the same heebie-jeebies as the nullo stuff (see the archives from a couple months ago for that). It goes on to describe in pretty graphic detail the disgusting shit that goes on in an infected body and then preaches about organ transplantation for a while; understandable, as the author kinda wants to stay alive, the clever bastard.

Right. Go read. You'll think better of yourself if you do.

Btw, whoever the crew from the Russian Federation is, welcome aboard. Nice to have some fresh faces. Hope you've got more stamina than the Canadians.

Futurama's on and there's some good wine and Lil Sis' presents are wrapped, so I'm out. Have a swell evening, kids.

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When President Bush delivers a speech recognizing the centenary of heavier-than-air-powered flight December 17, it is expected that he will proffer a bold vision of renewed space flight, with at its center a return to the moon, perhaps even establishment of a permanent presence there. If he does, it will mean that he has decided the United States should once again become a space-faring nation. For more than 30 years America's manned space program has limited itself to low Earth orbit; indeed, everyone under the age of 31 — more than 125 million Americans — was born since an American last set foot on the moon.

The speech will come at a time when events are converging to force some important decisions about the future of American efforts in space. China has put a man in orbit, plans a launch of three Sinonauts together, and has announced its own lunar program. The space shuttle is grounded, and its smaller sibling, the "orbital space plane," may not be built. The International Space Station, behind schedule, over budget, and of limited utility, has been scaled back post-Columbia.

The content of the speech does not appear to be in doubt; the only question is timing. While those who have formulated it have argued that it be delivered on the anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first powered flight, there exists a slight possibility that it will instead be incorporated in the State of the Union address at the end of January. This has its own, less triumphant, significance, which is in the form of a chilling coincidence. Every American who has died in a spacecraft has done so within one calendar week: The Apollo 204 fire on January 27, 1967; the Challenger disaster on January 28, 1986; and the loss of Columbia on February 1, 2003.

Interesting, really, although later in the article it mentions that Bush Sr. was pushing for exactly the same thing back in '89. His father's war, his father's attempt at immortality...maybe he'll slip it to Barbara the next time she heads down to Crawford.

Regardless, I'm liking this one. We need to get the motherfuck off this planet and make some headway into space, and so long as the gov't is grabbing $$ left and right, some of 'em might as well go to something cool (although I shudder to think what kind of thoughts the military has about all this, and about what they could put into orbit; remember that Jr., before everybody on the fucking planet started laughing at him, was a vocal proponent of the Star Wars SDI program -- ah, the Reagan years; the kid really doesn't have an original thought in his head, does he?), as opposed to crappy medicare bills and endless flights in Air Force One.

Right, moving on.

Y'know, it's funny, but still make me slightly nauseous when someone refers to Jr. as President Bush. Just wanna smack 'em.


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Before word trickled out this week about President Bush's plans to visit Halethorpe, the most celebrated event in this well-kept corner of southwest Baltimore County was probably the Fair of the Iron Horse back in 1927.

Not to say that Halethorpe residents have minded the lull between that much-revered fair -- which attracted crowds from around the country and railroad exhibits from around the world -- and the presidential entourage that will descend on the Commerce Drive Home Depot on Friday.

Neat and quiet is how people like this small patch of the county, said 72-year-old Joseph P. Kinsey, president of the Halethorpe Improvement Association. Neat and quiet, even as the hum of surrounding interstates and passing trains envelop it, and as the traffic on Washington Boulevard zooms down its spine.

Which leads to the question that even Kinsey and his wife, Halethorpe boosters for decades, cannot answer. Why would the president stop here?

"It's weird!" exclaimed Helen "Stormy" Kinsey, whose nickname comes from being born during a 1933 hurricane. "Why would he come to Halethorpe?"

Oddly enough, nobody actually seems to want him there, either. Ya think that maybe he's just on Home Depot's payroll?

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Monday, December 01, 2003

WAYNE COUNTY, N.C. -- Two trials in Goldsboro could soon be heard by people who were shopping at Wal-Mart.

Some people who went to a Wayne County Wal-Mart may be selected as jurors for an upcoming murder trial.

A Wayne County court had summoned 150 people for jury duty, but over half of the potential jurors had excuses for not being able to appear, so a judge reportedly asked Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders to find some jurors.

Winders ordered deputies to go to the Wal-Mart and randomly pick 50 people. Those chosen were told that they were to report for jury duty for two upcoming trials on Monday.

"Some were very displeased. They didn't want to show any ID," Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said.

Winders claimed he chose Wal-Mart because the people who shop there represent the people of Wayne County as a whole.

Nothing, really. Just one more Wal-Mart story. Doesn't say much for North Carolinians, though.

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You know, some research says that those who are the most homophobic are the most likely to actually BE homosexuals. So what does that say about President George Bush? Well, we don't know if the Prez might hiding out with the queers in secret, but we do know his daughter isn't shy about hanging out with them in public. Bush's daughter Barbara was spotted recently having a gay old time at a concert by all-gay punk band Pansy Division. Barbara and friends cozied up in the back room drinking, while out front the band screamed their queer hearts out. The band reportedly dedicated their rabid anti-Bush song, Political Asshole, to the first daughter during the show. Daddy's just got to love that.

No real commentary. Just kinda crackin' me up. Think Barb's a Queer Eye fan?

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