Sunday, February 29, 2004

A snapshot of Georgia's program for uninsured children shows that it's packed with kids of Wal-Mart employees.

A state survey found 10,261 of the 166,000 children covered by Georgia's PeachCare for Kids health insurance in September 2002 had a parent working for Wal-Mart Stores.

That's about 14 times the number for next highest employer: Publix, with 734.

Wal-Mart is the state's largest private employer. But when the top four companies on the list are measured by number of PeachCare children per the number of employees in Georgia, Wal-Mart still dominates.

The survey findings surface as Wal-Mart's pay, benefits and corporate policies have come under fire nationally. Labor unions and other critics have denounced the Arkansas-based retail giant for what they call low-wage, low-benefit jobs. And unions fear the influence Wal-Mart practices could have on employee benefits in all industries.

Georgia's PeachCare program was launched in 1998 to provide health insurance to children whose parents cannot afford or don't have access to those benefits. Wal-Mart said it does not encourage employees to use states' insurance plans for children or Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor. "We offer affordable health coverage to all of our associates, both full time and part time," said Dan Fogleman, a spokesman for the company.

But the number of PeachCare children whose parents work for Wal-Mart struck a nerve with a local advocacy group for low-wage women.

"Most employees who make $7 to $8 an hour can't afford health insurance," said Cindia Cameron, organizing director of 9 to 5, National Association of Working Women. "When a very wealthy employer passes off to taxpayers what is rightfully a labor force cost, that's a serious public policy problem."

Old news, but still worth reporting. Only about a third of Wal-Mart's workforce opts for the company insurance program, which can cost as much as half their weekly salary (Wal-Mart considers 28 hours a week "full-time"), and doesn't cover much. The world's largest employer (over a million wage slaves, worldwide) can't, apparently, swing decent insurance coverage for its workers. And people still fall for the smiley face and cheap Singapore electronics. Seriously, the company uses their own employees in their commercials 'cause Sam Walton was the most miserly skinflint cheap bitch you've ever heard of, and you don't have to pay SAG rates if you just walk into your own store and shoot your employees while they're on shift.

If you'd like to be truly horrified by Wal-Mart and their ilk, pick up Nickel & Dimed in which a nicely successful writer goes out and tries to live (i.e., covering basic expenses for food, rent, clothing, etc) on $7 & $8-an hour jobs. Great book. Not that she's saying much that most of us don't already know from our own lives, but it's remarkable to watch her growing realization that cable tv, health clubs, new clothes, a proper diet or even housing are not things that can be considered "basic" to a whole lot of the working poor. When adequate foodstuffs and safe housing are items that a full-time job won't necessarily cover, there's something wrong with this fucking country.

But you knew that already, didn't you?

Btw, killed the transmission in the Maxima. Anybody in the SeaTac area wanna give ol' Billyhank a lift to work?

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Monday, February 23, 2004

Hey there, y'all. Just back from the movies, a little romp called The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra which, judging by IMDB's listing, is a lot older than I thought it was. Ah, well. Behind the curve again. If it comes to your town you might think about checking it out. Darn funny stuff. "Quickly! Bend yourself in the middle!" An excellent line, really.

Nothing much going on, really. Had (potential) band practice yesterday and the one song that we've been beating on the last couple of weeks is taking on some kinda rough shape. Steff's drummer pal is due into Jet City sometime in the next couple weeks, so we'll see if it coalesces into something worth packing up and hauling up on stage in some kinda bar or another. Need a singer, though. Thinking about maybe Psycho James, or Steff's boy. Same theory with each one, really; utterly fearless overgrown boys who don't mind fists and have a highly developed and broad sense of humor. We'll see if it makes sense to bring anyone in.

Yeah, not much else. A note here 'cause I'm feeling out of touch with my folks back in the NE, been getting home to late to call East Coasters. Miss you, boys & girls. Wishing life was more like Laverne & Shirley, y'know?

Out. Talk to you tomorrow.

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Yup, nuns on ice. Just to make your morning a tad more engaging.

Have a fun one, kidlins.

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Saturday, February 21, 2004

And on the considerably lighter and much less important side, how to turn your Atari 2600 into a portable. Copious instructions can be found here.

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Nope, nothing on the 'Bin Laden Surrounded' thing on any of the majors (not even Fox, which is generally eager to grasp at any available straw; they do, however, have an exlusive report on the Baghdad Equestrian club, which, according to the blurb "offers an escape in war-torn country". Right. Dumbasses), and Drudge just went back to the same front page from the Sydney Times.

Still gotta wonder though, no?

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Bin Laden 'surrounded'

February 22, 2004

A BRITISH Sunday newspaper is claiming Osama bin Laden has been found and is surrounded by US special forces in an area of land bordering north-west Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Sunday Express, known for its sometimes colourful scoops, claims the al-Qaeda leader has been "sighted" for the first time since 2001 and is being monitored by satellite.

The paper claims he is in a mountainous area to the north of the Pakistani city of Quetta. The region is said to be peopled with bin Laden supporters and the terrorist leader is estimated to also have 50 of his fanatical bodyguards with him.

The claim is attributed to "a well-placed intelligence source" in Washington, who is quoted as saying: "He (bin Laden) is boxed in."

..."The timing of that order will ultimately depend on President Bush," the paper says. "Capturing bin Laden will certainly be a huge help for him as he gets ready for the election."

The article says bin Laden's movements are monitored by a National Security Agency satellite.

Interesting that nobody else is talking about this. Lemme go check Drudge. I'll let you know.

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LONDON (Reuters) - An ageing rock group gave themselves a facelift by getting a group of teenagers to stand in for them on the video of their latest song, helping them score their first chart hit for some 15 years.

Convinced the music industry is prejudiced against wrinkly rockers, The Alarm gave themselves the pseudonym The Poppyfields and persuaded a group of fresh-faced youths to mime their part.

"They did it to show they wanted to be judged on music and not on their image and haircuts of 15 years ago," said a spokesman for the band.

The single, 45RPM, went into the charts this week at number 28.

The Welsh band were previously best known for 1983 hit "68 guns" and said they pulled the stunt to show how much image affected sales in the music industry.

As I'm approaching the state of 'wrinkly rocker' muy rapido, this just kinda cracked me up. Good for you, fellas.

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Friday, February 20, 2004

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - St. Louis Federal Reserve President William Poole said Friday the movement of jobs from the United States to low-wage countries was painful but ultimately good for the economy.

"You have to regard this process in the sweep of U.S. history as desirable because we are all better off. No question, these adjustments are difficult and painfully difficult... But it is not a process we should want to block or stop," said Poole, who is a voting member of the Fed's policy making committee, during audience questions after a meeting of the AAIM Management Association.

I find it telling that nobody is willing to explain what all the unemployed Americans are supposed to be doing while Indians write computer programs, Chinese manufacture toys and Koreans build cars. How come people only ask you to have faith in things that they can't possibly explain?

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Moroccan airliner traveling from New York to Casablanca was diverted to Maine after a passenger on board made a bomb threat, a U.S. official said Friday.

Royal Air Maroc Flight 201 was en route to Morocco when "a passenger made a phone call to a family member and made a statement that included a bomb threat against the aircraft," said Ann Davis, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration.

Davis said she did not have any additional information about the threat.

The plane, which took off Thursday from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport at 7 p.m. EST, was diverted to Bangor International Airport in Maine. Eighty-two passengers and 10 crew members were aboard, Davis said.

Dunno if the guy was clipped for making a bad joke or discussing the plastique in his luggage. Just posting this to make sure my forgetful, lazy ass follows up on it.

Everybody having a lovely day?

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Thursday, February 19, 2004

That's a pretty good one. Just surfing around, digging up DEVO shit, and I find this pic. The dude on the right is Malcolm Tent, who owns Trash American Style in Danbury, CT, and was my big connection for DEVO junk back in the day 'fore I hit Jet City. Shit, man. Haven't seen that dude in years.

Ah, the web.

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Found this under a search for DEVO. Made me kinda laugh.


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And, hey, as long as you're proving you love me with gifts suitable for a true Devo-tee, this would look awful nice wedged in between The Big Lebowski and Donnie Darko, wouldn't it?.

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Zippo embossed with a Mark Mothersbaugh graphic. The bidding starts at $24.99. If you really love me, that doesn't seem like such a high price to pay.

And hey, now that there's the lung cancer vaccine, no worries, right?

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AN experimental vaccine wiped out lung cancer in some patients and slowed its spread in others in a small but promising study, researchers say.

Three patients injected with the vaccine, GVAX, had no recurrence of lung cancer for more than three years afterward, according to the study of 43 people with the most common form of the disease, non-small cell lung cancer.

The findings were published in yesterday's Journal of the United States National Cancer Institute. The research was funded in part by CellGenesis, a pharmaceutical company that hopes to produce the vaccine.

Smoke 'em if you've got 'em, kids...

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Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Tips for would-be Evil Overlords:

My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear Plexiglas visors, not face-concealing ones that can hide the enemy.

My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.

Shooting is not too good for my enemies and should be done ASAP.

The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.

I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.

When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say "No" and shoot him. No, on second thought I'll shoot him then say "No".

I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labeled ``Danger: Do Not Push''. The big red button marked ``Do Not Push'' will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it. Similarly, the ON/OFF switch will not clearly be labeled as such.

One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.

There's roughly a trillion of these and they just keep getting funnier. I'd suggest you check 'em out.

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A few last words, for no particular reason (which is gonna be SO fucking ironic if I get flattened by the bus on the way to work tomorrow):

Waiting are they? Waiting are they? Well--let 'em wait.
In response to an attending doctor who attempted to comfort him by saying, "General, I fear the angels are waiting for you."
~~ Ethan Allen, American Revolutionary general, d. 1789

(Included only 'cause General Allen is a relative on Mom's side, a great-something-something uncle)

I can't sleep.
~~ James M. Barrie, author, d. 1937

Die? I should say not, dear fellow. No Barrymore would allow such a conventional thing to happen to him.
~~ John Barrymore, actor, d. May 29, 1942

Now comes the mystery.
~~ Henry Ward Beecher, evangelist, d. March 8, 1887

I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis.
~~ Humphrey Bogart, actor, d. January 14, 1957

Ay Jesus.
~~ Charles V, King of France, d. 1380

I'm bored with it all.
Before slipping into a coma. He died 9 days later.
~~ Winston Churchill, statesman, d. January 24, 1965

That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted.
~~ Lou Costello, comedian, d. March 3, 1959

Goodnight my darlings, I'll see you tomorrow.
~~ Noel Coward, writer, d. 1973

Damn it . . . Don't you dare ask God to help me.
To her housekeeper, who had begun to pray aloud.
~~ Joan Crawford, actress, d. May 10, 1977

I know you have come to kill me. Shoot coward, you are only going to kill a man.
Facing his assassin, Mario Teran, a Bolivian soldier.
~~ Ernesto "Che" Guevara, d. October 9, 1967

Turn up the lights, I don't want to go home in the dark.
~~ O. Henry (William Sidney Porter), writer, d. June 4, 1910

A King should die standing.
~~ Louis XVIII, King of France, d. 1824

Let's cool it brothers . . .
Spoken to his assassins, 3 men who shot him 16 times.
~~ Malcolm X, Black leader, d. 1966

Go on, get out - last words are for fools who haven't said enough.
To his housekeeper, who urged him to tell her his last words so she could write them down for posterity.
~~ Karl Marx, revolutionary, d. 1883

I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room - and God damn it - died in a hotel room.
~~ Eugene O'Neill, writer, d. November 27, 1953

God bless... God damn.
~~ James Thurber, humorist, d. 1961

And a classic --

I've had eighteen straight whiskies, I think that's the record . . .
~~ Dylan Thomas, poet, d. 1953

A lasting impression is nothing more, I'm certain, than the singular result of impeccable timing.

'Night, kidlins.

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Just watched Lost In Translation (yeah, yeah, I know, we're YEARS behind the curve). For those of you who're curious, the hotel they were staying at was the Park Hyatt Tokyo, which is now offering a few Lost In Translation-themed special deals. The cheapest is a one night stay with complimentary breakfast, a drink in the New York Bar and a map to the sites in the movie (karaoke bar, shrine, etc), all for the bargain price of JPY 55,000 (about USD $515.00). The week-long stay is more like $3,700.00

I think we'll be searching for hotel bargains before we take off for the Land of the Rising Sun.

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government's national debt -- the accumulated debt from past budget shortfalls -- totaled more than $7 trillion for the first time as of Tuesday, according to a Treasury Department report.

In its daily financial statement released on Wednesday, the Treasury said the U.S. debt subject to a Congressionally set limit totaled $7.015 trillion, up from $6.983 trillion on Friday. The government was closed on Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.

Just so's ya know.

Nothing like a 'fiscal conservative' in the White House, huh?

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Hobbit House in England. Very cool and very low-ecological impact and it's gonna be knocked down in April. Very sad, stupid, and short-sighted. Click the pic for the website or here for the BBC story.

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WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a combative conservative known for his tough talk on and off the bench, isn't backing down in the face of criticism that he should stay out of a case involving his friend and hunting partner, Vice President Dick Cheney.

The two men went on a duck hunting trip last month, three weeks after the court agreed to hear a White House appeal in a case involving private meetings of the vice president's energy task force. Critics said the trip raised questions about Scalia's impartiality in the case.

Simply asinine.

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Hey there, y'all. It's a Jr-hating day here in Maison Billyhank/Buttons, just because, 'y'know, the fucker's pretty hateable. Sick as a dog, so I'm here in my pj's @ 10:30, listening to Howard Dean drop out of the Dem nomination race. Which is kinda sad, as I appreciate Dr. Dean's enthusiasm, but I have to admit, I never really felt it, y'know? All the screaming and caterwaling I liked, but the smugness, the pointless ego and the seeming inability to take either himself or the campaign more seriously kinda killed him for me as a candidate. And I'm a bit sad that Kucinich is going to sink without a trace. I like the man's stance, his actually realistic view on Iraq, domestic bullshit and the economy. Glad he's still in Congress, though.

Here's a goodly long and interesting list of things to know about Bush and his regime, including his gutting of pretty much every possible enviromental law, handing money to rich folks that could be used to support poor folks during a near-record unemployment and how his foreign policy is pretty much just a practical application of the Project for a New American Century's strategy paper, which, as you may know, calls for nothing less than expansion into the Middle East. Surprise, surprise. You may have to scroll down, but go here to read up on all the things that'll make you grind your teeth.

Just for a little guerilla fun, go here and post up a bad review of this book. Not that it's right to judge something before you've given it a chance, but, well...sometimes it is. Go.

If you give a fuck at all about the soldiers (MikE!, I know this is you), then check this shit out:

Under the guise of "privacy rules," the Pentagon is blocking DAV (Disabled American Veterans) reps from contacting disabled soldiers shipped back from Afghanistan or Iraq(). Instead, DAV national service officers (NSOs) must work hard to seek out and identify the wounded. Even when they do, however, the new Bush rules dictate that these veterans or their families must first ASK for help before the DAV can offer it. Trouble is, because the military and the VA have been instructed NOT to tell soldiers/vets of their rights and possible benefits, a high percentage of soldiers do not know that there is any help to ASK for. A vicious Catch-22. Here is a paragraph from the Jan/Feb print edition of DAV magazine:

"Disabled veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are mostly unaware of their rights as veterans and, acting without representation, some have accepted less than their disabilities warranted. Few are aware of free DAV representation that will help them obtain their full and rightful benefits."

The DAV was especially outraged when it discovered that it wasn't even allowed to visit soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital unless the patients were "pre-selected" for them! Incredible!

And so on and so forth. I was trying to find the list of "216 things I am not allowed to do" by some Marine posted somewhere where he can mess with the Russians, which was the funniest thing I've read in some time, but I can't dig it up. If you have any idea of what the fuck I'm talking about, mail the link to brasscitystatic@hotmail.com, please.

All right, I'll be back later. There's all kinds of shit I'm pulling up today.

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Thursday, February 12, 2004

Goddamned motherfucking beautiful in Jet City today, all sunny and bright and warm. Went for a ride down in the park, dodging dogs and young parents with babies and cars driven by sullen little teenagers. Y'know, I know I was a sullen little teenager once, and I know I skulked around trying to look cool, but goddamn I still wanna kick these sloping little shits right in the back of the head.

Lighten up, kids. There's just this one life, y'know?

Yeah, so I've been a bit away. Sick for a bit and then real writing for the last few days. Y'know, writing kinda kills me, 'cause when I start writing I start thinking about what it is to write the shit down and then get lost in this little head-essay about what defines a writer from everybody else and blah, blah, blah and then just when I'm starting to feel all kinda snide about being BIG DEEP WRITER-MAN my bullshit detector starts jingling and points out that not only have I never been published, I've never written anything longer than like 20 pages and I haven't actually finished anything in months.

Swear to God, I'm not whining. It's just late and it's always a little bit of a kick in the soul when you manage to set off your own bullshit detector.

So, yeah, Jet City and the gorgeous February day. Drove all over town doing bullshit stuff for my boss, but it's okay doing bullshit stuff for your boss when it's pretty out and doing the bullshit means you get to get outta the fucking shop for most of the day. So, yeah, got everything done and now I've got a POS Toyota 4Runner stuffed into my shipping area. Sheer silliness, but, hey, sheer silliness keeps the shit fresh, no?

I dunno if I'm too bushed to talk about what's going on these days or if there's simply too much of it. The campaign silliness is gearing up (What ho; appears J. Kerry has a mistress who just skipped the country), Jr. is presenting old pay stubs as proof that he was showing up for work in the National Guard days and Colin Powell is losing his shit on congressmen (article here that tells it pretty well) and the universe is still talking about JJ's tit-flash. Silliness and silliness. Errol Morris has a new documentary out, The Fog of War, that's playing local and which I might attempt to persuade Buttons to go see this weekend (Happy Valentine's day, honey! Let's go see a documentary about Robert McNamara!). Of course, Starsky & Hutch is opening, too, and that might fit the bill a tad better. We'll see.

Couple things I found today. Dunno if I'd call 'em good:

Strange bowler folk in Mexican wrestling masks, etc: Los Diablos Guapos

How Much Is Inside? An interesting guide to how much of something fits in or can be taken out of...whatever. Never mind, go look. You'll laugh.

And a short but not particularly graphic essay on shiteaters.

That's about it. Futurama's on and I've got an empty head. You're done now. Go outside and look at the sky.

G'night, children.

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Friday, February 06, 2004

Christianity's Lord is alive and has been living on the earth in the flesh since February 17, 1924.

I Am Jesus.

I AM indeed God's son, and I will be the one who guides God's people Israel, and the Gentiles into and through the Millennium.

Apparently this fella knows when Jesus is coming back. Actually, it occasionally seems that he IS Jesus, come back for a second go-round. Either way, seems like someone you should keep tabs on, no?

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Thursday, February 05, 2004

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - A team of surgeons made final preparations to operate on a Dominican infant born with a second head, a risky surgery that doctors say they believe to be the first of its kind.

Led by a Los Angles-based neurosurgeon, the medical team planned to spend about 13 hours Friday removing Rebeca Martinez's second head, which has a partially formed brain, ears, eyes and lips.

Eighteen doctors and nurses working in shifts were to cut off the undeveloped tissue, clip the veins and arteries and close the skull of the 7-week-old girl using a bone graft from another part of her body.

Nothing to say about this one, really. Poor kid. Hope it works out well.

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Cool little Pepsi/Guiness can camp stove. I'm not any kinda hiker/camper really, but if I knew I was headed out to the wild, I might build one of these just for the sheer fuck of it. Hell, I might anyway, and see if I can make a tiny little pot of pasta out on the porch come spring. Instructions for construction are here, or click the pic.

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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy cast list is quickly filling up.

Last week we heard that Mos Def and Zooey Deschanel joined the film - this week brings news that the versatile Sam Rockwell will play the two-headed, three-armed president of the galaxy and old friend of Ford Prefect, Zaphod Beeblebrox.

Which is some mighty fine news. Rockwell's great (check out CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND), which means that all us nerds get somebody who'll play Zaphod right (with any luck) and all the non-nerds who get dragged to the show will have at least one good actor to watch.


Pardon me, please. Sick as all fucking hell. Bah.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Florida lawmakers have introduced legislation that would require incapacitated people who never made written end-of-life plans to be kept alive regardless of their family's wishes.

The bill is a direct response to the case of Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged woman who never wrote down her wishes and has been at the center of a lengthy, nationwide right-to-die debate.

Schiavo is being kept alive in a nursing home. Her husband and parents disagree about what she would have wanted.

Y'know, I honestly don't understand what the Bush Klan is getting out of this kind of shit, except perhaps to keep their ultra-right-wing supporters happy. But this is getting fucking ridiculous. We need, as a country, to perform a cull on Bushes in office. I'm thinking two is just a two too many, y'know?

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"A lot of people have misperceptions about Hooters, but we try to appeal as a fun place for everyone,'' Sharp said. "We give balloons to children; we have a kids' menu. Our staff is told to cater to wives and children before the husbands. This is not an inappropriate atmosphere for a family meal.''

Williams said he will try to convince the Board of Education today that his daughter, Laura, should be allowed to keep her job at the Hooters on Ga. 204 at I-95 in west Chatham County.

Williams' 17-year-old daughter (center, above), in fact, who's working the front desk at Hooters as part of a school-sanctioned work-study program. The school has suddenly decided that perhaps Hooters ain't the best place to send their youngin's, but the girl's pappy disagrees. He seems to think that a place which dresses up their female wait staff in short-shorts and tank tops is a proper enviroment for his kid to grow and develop.

Does this seem all kinds of backwards to anyone else?

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A RAUNCHY computer game where players aim to get two sex-starved flatmates into bed for a steamy romp is being launched in Britain.

Gizmo Gaming can exclusively reveal that SINGLES: FLIRT UP YOUR LIFE, due out in April, will feature some of the most graphic graphics ever in a mainstream game.

The adults-only PC adventure puts gamers in control of up-for-it housemates Mike and Linda with the challenge of keeping the pair happy in their daily lives.

If they succeed, the wild couple will eventually fall in love and cop off, jumping into the sack together or heading off to the bathroom for a saucy shower.

Just in case a craving for human contact was on the verge of driving you out of your dank little apartment, here's just one more fucking thing to keep you locked to your screen.


So, how you guys been?

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