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Fasten, fit closely, bind together.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Don't Eat the Yellow Snow 

A Slovak man trapped in his car under an avalanche freed himself by drinking 60 bottles of beer and urinating on the snow to melt it.

Rescue teams found Richard Kral drunk and staggering along a mountain path four days after his Audi car was buried in the Slovak Tatra mountains. He told them that after the avalanche, he had opened his car window and tried to dig his way out. But as he dug with his hands, he realised the snow would fill his car before he managed to break through.

He had 60 half-litre bottles of beer in his car as he was going on holiday, and after cracking one open to think about the problem he realised he could urinate on the snow to melt it, local media reported.

He said: "I was scooping the snow from above me and packing it down below the window, and then I peed on it to melt it. It was hard and now my kidneys and liver hurt. But I'm glad the beer I took on holiday turned out to be useful and I managed to get out of there."

[Via LarsLevie.com]
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The Finest Clydesdale  

Sunday’s NY Times had an interesting article about an interesting character, Philadelphia Eagles’ wide-out Freddie Mitchell. He totaled just 22 catches and 2 TDs in this his 4th NFL season out of UCLA, but that hasn’t prevented him from making headlines.



-He has made repeated references to his network of Hollywood connections ("They asked me to be in 'CSI: New York,' " he said); reminisced about his off-season trips to Sweden and Brazil ("I love looking at the Swedish scenery"); and discussed the plausibility of real estate ventures in Cuba or Colombia ("I still want to kick it with Fidel").

-He has appeared on "Baywatch," was an honorary guest at the Playboy Mansion and listed the actress Elizabeth Hurley among his "close friends" - when he was still in college.

-Early in his college career, when Mitchell didn't feel he was getting enough attention, he noticed a country-music radio station while driving on Sunset Boulevard. He went to the door and asked if the host wanted to interview him. Soon enough, he was a regular.

- When Jay Leno stopped at U.C.L.A. for his weekly "Jay Walking" segment on the "Tonight" show, Mitchell practically stiff-armed his way to the front of a long line. Asked to name the first president of the United States, Mitchell answered "Benjamin Franklin," drawing an uproarious laugh from Leno.

-He once had a television crew come to his house to film him braiding his hair. By the end of his college career, he was appearing on television shows like "Pacific Blue," walking the red carpet at Hollywood premieres and lounging with Hugh Hefner and his band of bunnies.

-He struck up friendships with B-list celebrities like Mario Lopez ("Saved by the Bell") and Jaleel White ("Family Matters") as well as A-listers like Mick Jagger and Hurley. "You know, I haven't talked to Elizabeth in a while," Mitchell said. "I think she's in London right now."

-Mitchell goes by a variety of aliases, among them Fast Freddie, First-Down Freddie, the Sultan of Slot and Hollywood. Right now, his favorite nicknames are Fred-Ex (he keeps a miniature FedEx airplane in his locker) and the People's Champ, a moniker that teammates gave him because of the way he engages fans. When Mitchell makes a catch, he pretends to buckle a championship belt around his waist.

- After 2 TD receptions in Philadelphia’s Divisional Playoff win over Minnesota Freddie announced, "I'm trying to take a humble approach," Mitchell said, pausing for effect. "I'm a special player and I just want to thank my hands for being so great." To illustrate his point, and to keep his paws protected, he wore oven mitts in a later interview.

-After he broke his leg in a game at the University of Houston in 1998, he blamed the playing surface, saying, "You can't run your finest Clydesdales on a field with gopher holes."

-Freddie Mitchell on Freddie Mitchell, “I'm so far above the radar, it's just ridiculous."
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Friday, January 28, 2005

Nip Tuck 

I’ve started watching the First Season of Nip Tuck on DVD. The critically acclaimed FX show now has the much sought after Billiken's Bluff Three Thumbs Up!!! If you haven't seen this plastic surgery drama you are probably wondering just how many storylines they can create that revolve around facelifts, ass implants and botox injections. Well as it turns out, quite a few. The show has a way of making outlandish plots appear plausible. For example, the series premiere included such gems as one of the surgeons blowing lines of coke off a stripper’s ass. A penis-paralyzing botox injection administered during an interrogation. A Columbian drug dealer undergoing a facial reconstruction to look a bit less conspicuous after molesting the boss’s 6-year old daughter. And finally, the two surgeons tying ham steaks to a dead body and dumping it into the Florida Everglades (to sleep with the alligators!).

My only issue with the show is that the son is played by this Michael Jackson look-a-like.



I don’t like looking at him, or him. The only reason I can think of that they casted this kid in Nip Tuck is to give a nod to the King of Pop & Plastic Surgery himself, Michael Jackson.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Warriors.... Come Out and Play 

In Nike’s new commercial six athletes are outfitted in ominous-looking masks that correspond to their personalities and athletic attributes. I'll let the NY Times tell it:

The game faces presented in a 60-second commercial that began running yesterday on networks including CBS, ESPN, Fox and MTV are in the form of stark, even startling, masks that are intended to personify the transformation of six professional baseball and football players from mild-mannered men into steely competitors.

The mask worn by Torii Hunter, centerfielder for the Minnesota Twins, gives him the look of a Venus flytrap. The mask worn by Brian Urlacher, linebacker for the Chicago Bears, is made of barbed wire and encases his entire head. And the polished-wood mask worn by Albert Pujols, the St. Louis Cardinals slugger, evokes a baseball bat - not to mention the creepy face coverings worn by some of the cast of "The Masks," a particularly spooky episode of "The Twilight Zone" from 1964.


LaDainian Tomlinson fast like a gazelle.

The intensity of the commercial is notable, even in the testosterone-drenched realm of sports marketing, as evidenced by its title: "Warriors." The purposefulness is dialed up to 11, to borrow a line from the film "This Is Spinal Tap," in linking the qualities of Nike's Pro line of performance apparel with the qualities of winning athletes. The mental and physical game-day preparations by the players - who also include Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees and the football players Ben Roethlisberger and LaDainian Tomlinson - are depicted as if they were readying for battle.

The commercial runs the risk of turning off consumers who may deem it far too fierce or dislike the idea of associating athletes to warriors when the world is racked by war.


===============================================================

It also runs the risk of scaring the crap out of the average television viewer. I first saw this commercial while watching the Philly/Atlanta playoff game on Sunday. Some of my impressions included:

-Sado-Masochistic.
-The Gimp from Pulp Fiction.
-Some crazy Silence of the Lambs/Red Dragon, cannibal oral-restraining mask.
-A menacing-looking set of orthodontic braces circa 1940.
-The foreboding rabbit from Donnie Darko.
-Stanley Kubrick’s ritualistic Venetian Masks from Eyes Wide shut.



At no point during the commercial did my thoughts turn to the high-performance skin-tight nylon undergarments that Nike was peddling in the advertisement. I’ll post more pictures of these 6 athletes and their masks once I come across them.
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Президент України виступає за реформування СБУ !!! 



Victor Yuschenko has a new blog! May take a while to figure out what the hell is says, but still - that's awesome!

Maybe he'll throw up a link to Billiken?
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Saturday, January 22, 2005

It's been a while since I had a drink ... 



GOTCHA !



Bring me a banana cognac, bitch
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Friday, January 21, 2005

Shorties Watchin’ Shorties 

Shorties Watchin’ Shorties (Comedy Central Thursdays @ 10:30pm). I don’t have too much to say about this show other than it really cracks me up. The show consists of solid stand-up comedy from Comedy Central regulars, including a lot of the guys (and gals) from Tough Crowd w/ Collin Quinn. The twist is the pictures that these comedians paint are actually painted, or rather animated. What you get is short cartoon skits that give some visual accompaniment to the comedian’s standup routine.



Cheating makes Dane Cook afraid to unlock the door. That shit is nervous.

You can watch some of the shorts from these shorties here.



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Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 

Last month, in an effort to attract additional advertising revenue, the Anaheim Angels changed their name to The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In addition to being a mouthful, the name suffers from being doubly redundant. When translated from Spanish it becomes... The The Angels Angels of Anaheim. As I type this up in Microsoft Word, the grammar check function of the computer is kicking into action, highlighting in red the obviousness of this error. The only thing that could have made this name change more preposterous was if Anaheim was German for Angel.

Anaheim is more than 30 miles outside the city limits of Los Angeles, but that was no matter to Angels’ owner Arte Moreno. Moreno hoped to attract advertisers who wanted to reach the Los Angeles market. Understandably the city of Anaheim, who owns the Angels stadium, filed motions in court to stop the name change. And today, the city of Los Angeles decided they wanted no part of this word jumble either.

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The Patriot 

I don’t think referring to Bill Belichick as The Brain really does him justice. He is some type of entity, more cerebral, pure gray matter (in a gray hooded sweatshirt). He's like one of the brain bugs from Starship Troopers.



Last week I wrote about the much-hyped Colts vs. Patriots Divisional Playoff game. Many were calling it the most-anticipated playoff game of the decade, and many more were picking this to be the year that Peyton and the Colts finally won in Foxboro. I knew it would come down to Belichick vs. Peyton, and whether or not Belichick could psych Peyton out. And well... it didn’t even turn out to be a game on Sunday. It started snowing. Peyton started slumping his shoulders in defeat after the second series of the game. The Colts who averaged over 30 pts/game mustered all of a field goal. (And apparently Bill Belichick chewed his team out for even allowing that many points. Talk about holding your players accountable.)

On to this week. The Patriots are playing in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh barely squeaked past the Jets last Saturday. If the Jets didn’t pull one of the all-time chokes (actually two of the all-time chokes, since Doug Brien missed not one but two field goals in the last 2 minutes of the game!!!) the Steelers wouldn’t even be playing this week. But regardless, Pittsburgh has home field advantage. They have won a basically unheard of 15 games in a row (only rivaled by the Patriots who have won 31 of the past 33 games). And yet Pittsburgh is still the underdog heading into Sunday's game. You won’t see this again for an awful long time. The Patriots are 2 ½ point favorites on the road. People aren’t making the same mistake of betting against New England this week. The only way the Steelers will have a shot in this game is if they pull some KGB-style covert mission and slip a bit of dioxin into Belichick's Gatorade.


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Foot Action 

Last week the elusive Team Zissou Adidas sneaker that Bill Murray sports in A Life Aquatic was all the rage.



This week the hot list includes these chic black cowboy boots complete with Presidential crest.



George W. Bush @ The Black Tie & Boots Inaugural Ball. (No Seriously)
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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Guantanamo Bay 

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba famous for...

1. Its shout-out on the Fugee's first single off The Score: "I, refugee from Guantanamo Bay, mess around the border like I'm Cassius Clay."

2. Its US Army Detention Center which currently holds hundreds of "Enemy Combatants" as part of the ongoing War on Terror.

3. Playing host to the only US Naval Base on Communist soil.

Everytime Guantanamo Bay is mentioned in the news I wonder how it is that we have a military base in Cuba. Fidel Castro may be beign, but we still do not have diplomatic relations with Cuba. You cannot get a direct flight from the US to Cuba. The de facto currency in Cuba was the US dollar, up until late last year when Castro outlawed it.

I Asked Jeeves, I Googled, I went on the US Navy's Guantanamo Homepage and still can't find a satisfactory answer. Maybe Castro doesn't get the NY Times, and is unaware that his Guantanamo Bay is at the center of a debate over the manner in which America interrogates suspected terrorists.

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Timothy "Speed" Levitch on the Brooklyn Bridge 



On this bridge, Lorca warns: Life is not a dream, beware, and beware, and beware. And so many think because then happened, now isn't. But didn't I mention? the ongoing *WOW* is happening right now. We are all co-authors of this dancing exuberance, for even our inabilities are having a roast. We are the authors of ourselves, co-authoring a gigantic Dostoevsky novel starring clowns. This entire thing we're involved with called the world is an opportunity to exhibit how exciting alienation can be. Life is a matter of a miracle that is collected over time by moments flabbergasted to be in each others' presence. The world is an exam, to see if we can rise into the direct experiences. Our eyesight is here as a test, to see if we can see beyond it. Matter is here as a test for our curiosity. Doubt is here as an exam for our vitality. Thomas Mann wrote that he would rather participate in life than write a hundred stories. Giacometti was once run down by a car, and he recalled falling into a lucid faint - a sudden exhilaration as he realized at last, something was happening to him. An assumption developed that you cannot understand life and live life simultaneously. I do not agree entirely, which is to say, I do not exactly disagree. I would say that life understood is life lived. But, the paradoxes bug me, and I can learn to love and make love to the paradoxes that bug me, and on really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion. Before you drift off, don't forget, which is to say remember, because remembering is so much more a psychotic activity than forgetting: Lorca, in that same poem, said that the Iguana will bite those who do not dream, and as one realizes that one is a dream figure in another person's dream....that is self-awareness!
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Monday, January 17, 2005

A Scanner Darkly 

This film finished shooting last June and will be released sometime in ’05. I'm a big fan of its director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused. Waking Life. Before Sunrise and Before Sunset). Linklater based the screenplay for this film on Phillip K. Dick’s novel A Scanner Darkly. Dick wrote the stories that were adapted to the screen for such films as Total Recall, Blade Runner, Paycheck, and Minority Report. Three summers ago after watching Waking Life for the 4th time I read that Linklater was working on bringing Phillip Dick’s A Scanner Darkly to the big screen.

I really enjoyed the novel, but didn’t have any idea as to how it would work as a film. The novel takes place in America sometime in the near future. Fred is a DEA agent of sorts investigating this lethal new drug called Substance D. As the novel unfolds we learn that Substance D causes the user to develop a split personality. Fred starts investigating Bob, a notorious drug kingpin. Fred and Bob turn out to be one in the same. Fred ends up setting up a sting to catch himself.

Although the novel is science fiction, it really does a good job portraying the paranoia, and mania that accompany drug addiction. Fred is so far gone (D'd up, if you will) that he is performing surveillance work on himself (I know, we’ve all been there). I didn’t have any idea how you would present this on the screen.

Linklater decided to use what looks to be the same animation technique (interpolated rotoscoping) that worked so well Waking Life. Film live actors and then take the film and have graphic designers animate over the frame. In Waking Life this animation added to the dream-like quality of this junket through philosophy/religion/literature/ politics/microbiology/etc./etc./etc. It also made what could have been a 2 hour-long college lecture into a truly innovative, enjoyable film.


"And on particularly romantic nights of self I like to go salsa dancing with my emotions. Beware. Beware. And Beware."- Timothy 'Speed' Levitch during his Brooklyn Bridge diatribe. [This New York icon (pictured above) actually deserves a post of his own. He works as a Tour Guide on one of those double decker red buses that shuttles out-of-towners around Manhattan. After seeing Speed Levitch in action these tourist must want to get on the first bus back to Ashtabula, Arkansas. But I digress...]

I’m really looking forward to A Scanner Darkly which has a star-studded cast including, Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, and Winona Ryder. My only concern is that Keanu is playing Fred/Bob. He was solid in Matrix, but that movie was carried by the special effects and innovative camera work. This is a different type of science fiction film and I would think it requires more range of facial expression than Keanu is capable of. His repetiore basically only covers the “Confused Look" to the “Whoa Look" portion of the spectrum. Hopefully a little interpolated rotoscoping will do Keanu some good.



Whoa.


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Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Brain  

The Colts play indoors and rely on the speed of their offense to win games. Conversely, the Patriots, who rely on their defense have a reputation for thriving in bad weather playoff games. Yesterday I wrote:

"[Sunday's] weather isn’t supposed to be terrible, low 30s and sunny, which favors Indy."

Today I came across this:

Pats uncover a new home-field advantage: Team's plan to protect turf is out in open
By Michael Felger
Thursday, January 13, 2005

FOXBORO - Yesterday dawned cold, wet and miserable across New England. In Foxboro, the conditions were probably worse than anywhere, with an overnight snowfall giving way to a driving rain that lasted from morning until night. It was, by any measure, a day to cover up and get out of the elements.

Unless, that is, you like to wallow in the cold and mud.

It's safe to say the Indianapolis Colts don't, and that explains why the Patriots kept the field at Gillette Stadium uncovered as the turf was pelted by the weather. As always, there were tarps nearby, ready to be rolled out. They sat untouched.

The Pats enjoy home-field advantage for Sunday's divisional playoff against the dome-dwelling Colts, and they obviously plan to capitalize on every inch of it. Not that you'd ever get Bill Belichick to fess up to that.

``My job is not to pull weeds,'' he said.

As everyone knows, the Colts are at their best on the carpet of their climate-controlled RCA Dome, where defensive end Dwight Freeney can take advantage of the turf and crowd noise to blow by left tackles, and record-setting quarterback Peyton Manning never has to worry about his receivers slipping or his passes being knocked down by the wind. The Pats, meanwhile, have a championship-proven defense built on size, toughness and physical play. In the parlance of horse racing, they're mudders -and they've won 19 straight at Gillette.

After this week's pelting, the Colts can only imagine what it will look like Sunday. More rain is expected tomorrow, while the forecast for the game is partly cloudy skies with a chance of flurries and a high temperature of 30. History shows that the worse the conditions, the worse off the Colts will be.



[Via Boston Herald]

"My job is not to pull weeds," said Belichick. Plausible deniability. That's genius. Without a doubt this is the perfect man for the Secretary of Defense position.
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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Hunt for Iraq's WMDs Ends Not with a Bang But with a Whimper 

WASHINGTON (Jan. 12) - The search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has quietly concluded without any evidence of the banned weapons that President Bush cited as justification for going to war, the White House said Wednesday.

The Iraq Survey Group, made up of some 1,200 military and intelligence specialists and support staff, spent nearly two years searching military installations, factories and laboratories whose equipment and products might be converted quickly to making weapons.

Chief U.S. weapons hunter Charles Duelfer is to deliver his final report on the search next month. ''It's not going to fundamentally alter the findings of his earlier report,'' McClellan said, referring to preliminary findings from last September. Duelfer reported then that Saddam Hussein not only had no weapons of mass destruction and had not made any since 1991, but that he had no capability of making any either. Bush unapologetically defended his decision to invade Iraq.

Bush has appointed a panel to investigate why the intelligence about Iraq's weapons was wrong.

[AP News]
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Peyton and The Brain 

Although I devote an inordinate amount of time each day to watching ESPN, I rarely post anything on Billiken that is related to sports. However, I find the Colts vs. Patriots matchup this Sunday uber-interesting. Indy is the underdog (2 ½ point dogs for all you gambling degenerates) for Sunday’s game in New England. The Colts have lost 6 in a row at Foxboro, including the season opener. Indy probably had the better team (at least the hotter offense) going into Foxboro last January only to be completely locked down by Bill Belichick, the Secretary of Defense. Indy basically had the same offense they have now but were stymied by the inclimate weather and the inhospitable Patriots’ D.

But this year I really don’t see the Colts losing. The Colts’ offense led by QB Peyton Manning has been shredding the league up this season. Peyton broke Dan Marino’s all-time TD record with 49. The Colts had three wide-receivers who had over 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. It was pretty much the most shocking and aweing air attack since we torched Baghdad in March 2003.

I realize that it’s not smart to bet against the Pats. They’ve won something like 30 of their last 32 games (I need statboy to check on that) and have had the Colts number the past few seasons. But the Pats, despite their 14-2 record are pretty beat up. Both of their starting corner backs, Ty Law and Tyrone Poole, are on injured reserve. Belichick has used a lot of smoke and mirrors to hide these mistakes (such as moving wide-receiver, Troy Brown to defensive back) but I think Peyton and his band of brothers simply have too many weapons at this point. Plus, the weather isn’t supposed to be terrible,low 30s and sunny, which favors Indy.

But the reason this matchup is so different from other rivalries, is because the real battle will be between Peyton Manning and Bill Belichick. QB vs. Head Coach. Peyton Vs. The Brain. No disrespect to Tom Brady, Tony Dungy, Edgerrin James or Corey Dillon, but they are just supporting actors. Peyton calls his own plays at the line of scrimmage, so he is basically his own head coach. Belichick coaches on the football field like Bobby Fisher (pre-asylum seeking) treated a chessboard. The Colts have the superior team, if Belichick can pull this one off it will be because he got into Peyton’s head.
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Monday, January 10, 2005

Safire and Brimstone 

I don’t know all that much about William Safire. I do know that he is the token conservative on the otherwise left-leaning editorial staff at the NY Times. When I think of him I picture-

-A distinguished older gentleman.
-Wearing a tweed jacket.
-Who is either currently outfitted in a Tucker Carlson style bow-tie, or who has sported one at some point during his career.

I brought these biases with me as I read his Op-Ed column in today’s Times titled “Where Was God?”

Not your usual NYT headline, but then again Safire is the dissenting voice at the paper. I figured the editorial that followed would have something to do with the Tsunami. So one could say I was with him up until this point. But from there he lost me (and that's certainly not to my credit given that the Times is supposedly written at a 6th grade reading level). Safire sermonizes:

In the aftermath of a cataclysm, with pictures of parents sobbing over dead infants driven into human consciousness around the globe, faith-shaking questions arise: Where was God? Why does a good and all-powerful deity permit such evil and grief to fall on so many thousands of innocents? What did these people do to deserve such suffering?

Safire went on to take few shots at Voltaire and 18th century French philosophy (and its cynicism). From there he proceeded to critique Bible translations, and give a dissertation on the book of Job. All in the name of the Tsunami? Safire writes:

Job's lessons for today:
(1) Victims of this cataclysm in no way "deserved" a fate inflicted by the Leviathanic force of nature.

(2) Questioning God's inscrutable ways has its exemplar in the Bible and need not undermine faith.

(3) Humanity's obligation to ameliorate injustice on earth is being expressed in a surge of generosity that refutes Voltaire's cynicism.


My understanding of the editorial section of any paper is that it consists of opinion columns that not only pertain to the current issues of the day, but that are also written in response to some sort of popular opinion. For example another of today’s editorials in the NYT was a critique of the Bush Administration’s plan to privatize Social Security.

Safire seems to be on his own with this “Where Was God?” editorial. Maybe, I’m missing something but has there been a public outcry questioning God’s role in the Tsunami? The only thing that was straightforward is that Safire has issues with the French (but seriously what Conservative pundit doesn't?).

The editorial seemed to come completely out of left field which is strange given Safire's propensity for playing in the right field (hardy har har). No but seriously can someone walk me through Safire's column?
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The Future Has Arrived and It Smells Like a Sterile Cotton Swab! 

With all the Tsunami damage, looming Iraqi election, and the break-up of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt this story almost slipped under the Billiken’s radar.

Law enforcement in Truro, Mass., a small town in Cape Cod, are requesting that all 790 of its male residents submit DNA samples to help solve the 3-year old murder investigation of Christa Worthington, who was found stabbed to death in Jan 2002. Semen was found on her body. Sgt. David Perry of the Truro Police Department say that the program is voluntary but that they will pay close attention to those who refuse to provide DNA.

"The person we're looking for is the one who deposited the DNA" by having sex with Ms. Worthington before she died, Sergeant Perry said. "We're not saying that this is the killer. What we're saying is we need to talk to this person, who may be just the last person to see her alive."

Understandably not everyone is enthused about submitting to a cotton swabbing. "I really think they're usurping my civil rights," said Mr. Seed, who may know something about DNA because his father is Dr. Richard Seed, the eccentric physicist who drew worldwide attention by announcing seven years ago that he planned to clone humans. "Are they going to chase down everyone who didn't give a sample? It kind of sounds like Stalin's secret police. If there's a murder committed in a restroom, are they going to be asking for a urine sample?"

In Baton Rouge, La., in 2003, authorities trying to find a serial killer took swabs from 1,200 white men who drove white pickup trucks, but the dragnet did not yield a suspect; a black man was later arrested using other investigative methods. In Omaha last year, the police, searching for a serial rapist, sought DNA from about three dozen black men who worked for the Omaha Public Power District. And in a rape investigation in Charlottesville, Va., the police over the last two years have asked for swabs from about 200 black men.

These investigations have been contentious, especially when the authorities hold on to the DNA of people found to have no connection to the crime. Baton Rouge law enforcement agencies are being sued by nearly two dozen of the 1,200 men they tested; the men want their DNA samples destroyed and their genetic information removed from a databank that can be used in investigations of other crimes.



Art, Literature, and Film all seem to have a preternatural ability to predict events like Truro’s DNA witchhunt. After 9/11 and the ensuing Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib torture scandals I immediately was reminded of Denzel Washington and The Siege. Last night I watched the season premier of 24 which seemed to present as realistic a picture of the terrorist threats currently facing this country, as any scenario that Richard Clarke or Condoleeza Rice have conjured. Hell, as I pointed out over the summer Men In Black anticipated The Department of Homeland Security’s tendency to raise the terror alert level at the first whiff of trouble.

So whenever I see something like this happening in real life I have a good chuckle. Hasn’t anyone in Truro, Mass ever seen Gattica, Minority Report, read A Brave New World? Has no one in the greater Cape Cod area ever seen any film, read any science fiction by Phillip Dick? Those narratives never end well for the individual or the society. Solving the murder of Christa Worthington is admirable, but well just like the Billiken, I’m dubious about DNA testing an entire town.
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Oh Snap, Franz 

I enjoyed this little story, from the blog Varifrank (via Instapundit):

Today, during an afternoon conference that wrapped up my project of the last 18 months, one of my Euro collegues tossed this little turd out to no one in particular:

" See, this is why George Bush is so dumb, theres a disaster in the world and he sends an Aircraft Carrier..."

After which he and many of my Euro collegues laughed out loud.

And then they looked at me. I wasn't laughing, and neither was my Hindi friend sitting next to me, who has lost family in the disaster.

I'm afraid I was "unprofessional", I let it loose -

"Hmmm, let's see, what would be the ideal ship to send to a disaster, now what kind of ship would we want?

Something with its own inexhuastible power supply?

Something that can produce 900,000 gallons of fresh water a day from sea water?

Something with its own airfield? So that after producing the fresh water, it could help distribute it?

Something with 4 hospitals and lots of open space for emergency supplies?

Something with a global communications facility to make the coordination of disaster relief in the region easier?

Well "Franz", us peasants in America call that kind of ship an "Aircraft Carrier". We have 12 of them. How many do you have?




HA!
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It'll Be So Creative 



Bonafide
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Friday, January 07, 2005

It's My Democratic Party and I'll Cry if I Want To 



I need help understanding this. So today our beloved U.S. Congress formerly certified Bush as the victor of the election and the winner of a second term as our president. They did this because, you know, Bush got more Americans to vote for him and received more electoral votes, which as defined by our Constitution makes him eligible to be president for four more years.

So why is Barbara Boxer and her cohorts lodging a protest this certification, necessitating a 75-1 vote in the Senate? You get the electoral votes you need, you get certified as the victor. Apparently the reasoning is that this protest is done to highlight "electoral irregularities" and point out the need for election reform. BALDERDASH, as the Got would say. Electoral irregularities happen in every election - does anyone on God's earth actually believe she would be protesting the certification of John Kerry had he won? Where was she when Clinton got elected?

Look at the tears streaming down her face. I think she's a little more emotionally involved here then just wanting to point out the need for election reform. I myself am all for election reform and fixing irregularities. But there's a time and a place for everything isn't there? Boxer is clearly throwing her little tantrum in Congress because she is upset that Dubya was re-elected, and feels that it is her right to vent on the floor of Congress while it is conducting the nation's business of certifying our president as the victor of a legitimate election. Her motives could not be more apparent than when she reportedly dedicated her protest to Michael Moore.
Wow. This is what the opposition has come to.

No wonder the American people do not trust liberals to run the country. Boxer is a U.S. Senator, she should be able to do her job. Sure it may be legitimate to bring up concerns about voting irregularities at the appropriate time. But when a candidate gets the votes needed to win the election and become president, her job as a U.S. Senator should be to certify that victory.

Timberlake said it best: Cry me a river.
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Just Because You are a Character Doesn't Mean You Have Character 

These have to be three of the craziest individuals I encountered...

Hue, Vietnam. This intrepid travel was traversing the grounds of the Forbidden Purple City (which was neither forbidden nor purple, rather it was open to the public and overgrown with weeds) in. He looks like a combination of Yosemite Sam/Teddy Roosevelt/ & Snidely Wiplash.



Water Taxi, Bangkok. This brightly dressed American pulled balloons out of his shopping bag and inflated them for Thai toddlers (seriously, I have more pictures to prove it). This is what happens when a dirty hippie American spends a few too many decades backpacking in Bangkok. After seeing this type you understand that the US government can’t possibly be expected to account for those 2,500 Americans still missing from the Tsunami. But not to worry they are alive and somewhat well.



But this little fellow takes the cake, or rather the can. He jumped from a tree branch, over a wall and into a hotel’s trash dumpster. He emerged with the remains of this can of tomato paste and made his way back towards his... kitchen???


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I Know You Like to Think that Your Shit Don’t Stink But… 

Seeking to build support among black families for its education reform law, the Bush administration paid a prominent black pundit $240,000 to promote the law on his nationally syndicated television show and to urge other black journalists to do the same.

The campaign, part of an effort to promote No Child Left Behind (NCLB), required commentator Armstrong Williams "to regularly comment on NCLB during the course of his broadcasts," and to interview Education Secretary Rod Paige for TV and radio spots that aired during the show in 2004.

Rep. George Miller of California, called the contract "a very questionable use of taxpayers' money". In fact, the contract may be illegal "because Congress has prohibited propaganda," or any sort of lobbying for programs funded by the government, said Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "And it's propaganda."

[From US of A Today]




Earlier today I saw Armstrong Williams interviewed on CNN. Williams was backpedaling, trying to explain why he served as a lackey for the Bush Administration's NCLB initiative. It looks as if Williams has been left to take the fall on this one. The Bush Administration wants to make sure that No Child is Left Behind, but they certainly have no qualms about Leaving Armstrong Behind.

(Now if I was Jon Stewart I could have put a little more punch in that last punchline.)



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Jon Stewart Throws Around Some Comedic Clout  

Apparently Jon Stewart (the wise-cracking, faux-news anchor) is the reason why Tucker Carlson (the bow-tie wearing, polo pony riding CNN Crossfire host) just got fired.



Last October, Jon Stewart went on CNN's 'Crossfire' and harshly criticized Tucker’s show. This week, the network's new president, Jonathan Klein, specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at "Crossfire" when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were "hurting America."

Mr. Klein said last night, "I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise." He said he believed that especially after the terror attacks on 9/11, viewers are interested in information, not opinion.

"CNN is a different animal," Mr. Klein said. "We report the news. Fox talks about the news. They're very good at what they do and we're very good at what we do."

Undoubtedly Tucker will find a home on Fox News.

Here is the link to the transcript from Stewart's Crossfire appearance And here's an excerpt that I enjoyed-

STEWART: You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

OH SNAP!!!!
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Thursday, January 06, 2005

Picture this... 

I'm going to slowly but surely post some pictures from my Southeast Asia junket.



In High School a friend of mine brought me with him while he got a haircut. The barbershop which was called "The Hut" was on Jamiaca Ave, and served as the location where they filmed the barbershop shoot-out in "Belly" (Nas, DMX, T-Boz). As the kids say, it was really hood. But "The Hut" looks like a Four Seasons hair salon, after seeing this corner barber in action in Hanoi, Vietnam.



This is the back of the head of The Reclining Buddha in Bangkok. It's 40 meteres long and gold-plated.



And this is a reclining child in Hoi An, Vietnam (not gold-plated).
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Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Dirty hippy backpackers... no clean underwear, no travel itineraries, no GTS tracking devices. 

Somehow a natural disaster completely out of the US government’s control has led to a fresh round of criticism of the Bush administration. Last week the global community rolled their collective eyes when Bush announced the US’ $15 million Tsunami relief package subsequently upped to $35 million and then $350 million (Sandra Bullock pledged $1 million and Formula-1 racer Michael Schumacher alone donated $10 million to tsunami relief efforts).

CNN’s Wolf Blitzer just had a segment featuring a Swedish delegate and an American delegate, both of whom are involved in tracking down their nation’s citizen in the Tsunami zone. Sweden has confirmed that 58 of its citizen have died and over 1,000 are still unaccounted for. The US has confirmed 36 Americans have died and that anywhere from 3,500 to 10,000 may still be missing or unaccounted for.

When asked why Thailand is such a popular destination for Swedes, the Swedish delegate said that winter in Sweden is cold so many Swedes book holiday package tours to Thailand. He added that the travel agencies and tour companies have been particularly helpful in providing information so that the government can track down the unaccounted for tourists in Thailand.

Blitzer then asked the American delegate why the US has not been as successful as Sweden in its efforts to locate American citizens traveling in the area. The US delegate said that in Sweden many people travel on group tours for shorter holiday vacations. And that unfortunately many of the US citizens in Southeast Asia are backpacking through the area. This means that often they are on trips of indeterminate length and that they may lose touch with friends and family in the US.


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