April 2004 Archives

Life Imitates Monty Python

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Another quick hitter: saw this story via Drudge about robotic traffic cones that can deploy themselves to block traffic lanes:

Herds of robotic traffic cones could soon be swarming onto a highway, closing down lanes and slowing the traffic.

The new road markers have been developed by Shane Farritor, a roboticist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, in a bid to help reduce the $100 billion per year that the Department of Transportation estimates is lost to the US economy through accidents and delays caused by highway lane closures.

The self-propelled markers take the form of robotic three-wheeled bases for the brightly coloured barrels that are set out to demarcate road repair zones. Farritor says they can open and close traffic lanes faster and more safely than humans.
I read that and immediately thought of the Python bit where ...
[Voice Over] And on the road too, vicious gangs of keep left signs.

Film: two keep-left signs attack a vicar.
Illustrated thusly:
Two keep-left signs attack a vicar

I Got Yer Ad Campaign Right Here


I've been getting a lot of hits from people searching for Omarosa (Assorama... Horrorosa... the hits just keep on coming!). Since I live to serve (even though I'm still too busy to blog anything resembling original content), I invite you to check out this collection of ad 'campaigns' featuring everybody's favorite [fill in the blank].

Project Beeramid Cancelled

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One of the problems with trying to stockpile beer in my neighborhood (in this case, for a party next weekend) is, well, my neighborhood.

We were on schedule/on budget as of Milestone 1:
Project Beeramid: Milestone 1

However, we experienced some unexpected overruns:
Project Beeramid: Cancelled

It was at this point that I issued a contract letter cancelling Project Beeramid.

Reap What You Sow, Parts I And II

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Another reason it's so much fun to snark on Omarosa is that her name is so mutilatable. I hadn't heard 'Omatrocious' before, but that's not the only reason I link to this TV Guide article:

BEGUN, THE MELTDOWN HAS : That whole N-bomb debacle is continuing to haunt Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth. The Apprentice diva walked off the set of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live last night after she allegedly spotted a lie-detector machine on the set. According to a Kimmel spokeswoman, the equipment was set up for a comedy bit with show regular Uncle Frank and was unrelated to Om's appearance. "The producers attempted to reassure [her] that they did not intend to ask her to take a lie-detector test," says the rep, "[but] she became upset and left." Kimmel kept the show going despite the sudden guest shortage, and even brought a producer onstage to explain what happened. "Apparently, her 15 minutes ended the second before I introduced her," Kimmel later cracked. "I felt like Jessica Simpson standing alone at the airport."
Today held a one-two schadenfreude punch, because TV Guide also reports this:
No doubt fearing a backlash from consumers, Herbal Essences has washed Omarosa right out of its hair. A spokeswoman for parent company Clairol confirms that the one-woman train wreck has been clipped from its upcoming "Streaking Party" commercial. Says the rep: "After reviewing the film... a decision has been made not to use the Omarosa take." The news likely hit Omatrocious like a ton of ceement.

Blogrolling Problems?

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Is anybody else having problems with blogrolling.com? My blogroll isn't showing up anymore, and I didn't do anything to my template...

Update: The blogroll has returned.

The Big Secret Revealed


Well, the gag order has been lifed. It was announced Wednesday that AFATDS was named as one of the U.S. Government's Top Five software projects by Crosstalk magazine:

SALT LAKE CITY—Five Defense Department software projects, ranging from a tactical-data fire support system to a computer-generated training system, were honored today at the Systems and Software Technology Conference.

The winners, chosen at the conference each year by CrossTalk magazine, include the Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data System; the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support System; the H1E System Configuration Set; the One Semi-Automated Forces Objective System; and the Patriot Excalibur program.

They were among dozens of nominations received by a panel of judges.

AFATDS is a joint, automated command and control system used in Operation Iraqi Freedom to determine targets and to pair the targets with various weapons systems, including attack helicopters, cannon artillery, mortars and missiles. AFATDS was developed by Raytheon Co.

Checking Out Of The Net


Impending paper + impending class presentation + impending final = low probability of blogging until about May 4 (and just when I was starting to get a bit of traffic, too--dammit!).

Middle East Politics Simplified


Abdul-Aziz Rantissi denied Israel's right to exist.

So Israel denied Rantissi's right to exist.

I'd say this round goes to Israel.


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I'm thinking about making Omarosa the poster child for this site, since she can be counted on to act Dangerously Stupid.

Anyway, I thought the last time I discussed her would be the end of her fifteen minutes. Alas, she's gone into Warhol Overtime. This week's People discusses her tenure as a 'worker' in the Clinton/Gore White House and Commerce Department. [All quotes from the 19 April 2004 People print edition.]

Perhaps unsurprisingly, she doesn't come off too well. First, there was a stint on what, yes, technically was a job on algore's staff, although I think calling her position 'social secretary' would simultaneously insult both real secretaries and social coordinators:

At her first White House gig, answering invitations received by Vice President Al Gore, "she didn't do her job and it got everybody in trouble," says a former Gore staffer.
Next, she was transferred to the White House personnel office. Not much comment on her job there, but I'm guessing she didn't distinguish herself, since she was later transferred to a job at the Commerce Department. She was transferred to another Commerce job because, "says another former administration official, 'because she couldn't get along with people.'"

For the coup de grace, we manage to get somebody to speak on the record:

At her last [job at Commerce], "she was asked to leave as quickly as possible, she was so disruptive," says Cheryl Shavers, the former Under Secretary [sic] for Technology . . .. "One woman wanted to slug her."

So now you have to figure she knows she's busted. Au contraire:

"I'm a moving target. As soon as they think they've figured Omarosa out, I've already moved on to a whole different industry."
Yeah. As in "Moved on one step ahead of getting fired, to somewhere they don't know me."

Despite being cold-busted as a liar by The Donald on live national TV, she still claims she's "inundated with job offers," to which I can only reply "There's a sucker born every minute."

Speaking of which, we have this Einstein weighing in on the issue in this week's MailBag. According to Crystal C. Brown, of Houston:

Black women who are assertive are always labeled aggressive and often singled out in the workplace. Omarosa is beautiful, intelligent, and savvy, and I'm certain she will find continued success without sacrificing her morals, ethics, or integrity.
...only because she doesn't have any of those left! NSA Rice is assertive. Oprah is assertive. Whoopi is assertive. I'd trust any of them with my life before I'd trust Omarosa to find out the correct time.

They're Buying 'Em Faster Than We Can Drink 'Em


Project Beeramid continues on schedule:
Project Beeramid: Milestone 1

Well, after a couple of interesting (and more than a little worrisome) games, the Wings took care of business and defanged the Predators. They have to wait a bit to see if they're playing Colorado or Calgary in the next round (at press time, Calgary and Vancouver were tied at 4 at the end of regulation of game 6).

On the other hand, if I have to watch that stupid commercial for the playoffs with Michelle Kwan and Kristi Yamaguchi one more time, I'm gonna go looking for somebody 'with a stick and a scowl.' And if you don't understand what that means, be thankful you haven't seen the commercial yet.

Excuses, Excuses


Blogging will be light this weekend. Project Beeramid has begun.
Project Beeramid

The Patron Saint Of Right-The-Hell-Now


Catholic tradition has patron saints for just about everybody, from archers to pharmacists. But when I first heard about this guy, I had to double-check the dateline to make sure it wasn't a misplaced April 1 story. From today's Wall Street Journal:

SAO PAULO -- When her husband's business got hammered in a brutal economic downturn last year, Maria Aparecida Ferreira Pichirilo, a 44-year-old homemaker, had to go job hunting. But after weeks of looking, Mrs. Pichirilo didn't have a single offer. With rejections piling up alongside unpaid bills, Mrs. Pichirilo took desperate action: She prayed to St. Expeditus, considered by many Brazilians the patron saint of urgent causes.
St. Expeditus?!? Are you kidding me? It sounds like something the Church of the Subgenius would cook up. It's slightly reminiscent of something we used to do on the INWO mailing lists many years ago: anyone who was a member of Dogbert's New Ruling Class was entitled to elect him/herself Pope of something (for example, I was the DNRC Pope ()f Pr;n+@b|e Non-@|ph@numer;< <h@r@c+ers). Anyway, this St. Expeditus thing is real:
St. Expeditus, a previously obscure figure in Roman Catholic tradition, has emerged as the object of cult-like devotion for a growing number of Brazilians. And while the Expeditus phenomenon is reviving interest in the church at a time of mounting incursions by evangelical Protestants, it's also prompting soul-searching on the part of some Catholic leaders about who this man really was and what values he represents.

All over Brazil -- which has 125 million Catholics, more than in any other country -- holy cards, billboards, makeshift altars and Internet sites display depictions of the saint: a soldier holding a cross inscribed with the Latin word hodie, which means "today," while stepping on a raven, inscribed with the word cras, meaning tomorrow. "He's the saint for real-time solutions," says Fernando Altemeyer, a religious-studies professor at Sao Paulo's Catholic University.

On the other hand, it doesn't pass my common sense test, and I'm not the only one who thinks so:

For all of the fervor inspired by Expeditus, the historical record regarding his life is notably skimpy. According to legend, he was a commander of a Roman legion in Armenia who converted to Christianity and was beheaded by the emperor Diocletian in 303 A.D. But John J. Delaney's authoritative "Dictionary of Saints" says "there is no proof (Expeditus) ever existed."

Some church historians speculate that devotion to the saint may have grown out of an old misunderstanding that occurred when Parisian nuns received a crate of relics from Rome labeled for "expedited" delivery. Mistakenly thinking the label referred to the name of a saint, "they began to propagate devotion to the imagined saint as the saint to be invoked to expedite matters, and the cult soon spread," the Dictionary says.
Now this wouldn't be the first time the Catholic Church started with an urban legend and ended up with a saint, but this one seems a little too contrived. Then I read the money graf - literally:
The interest generated by Expeditus has been a blessing to Brazil's Catholic Church, which has lately faced a stiff challenge from evangelical Christians. Spurred by rapid growth of Pentecostal denominations, the Protestants' ranks grew to 15 percent of the total population in 2000 from 9 percent in 1991. Part of the appeal of some evangelical groups, such as Brazil's huge Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, is an upwardly mobile ethos that says religion can be a conduit to attaining material well-being.
My friend Jim was fond of saying "Once you play Illuminati enough, all games become Illuminati." I've managed to extend that even further - all kinds of weird real-life events can be explained by plays in Illuminati. This one breaks down as:

The Gnomes Of Zurich, assisted by The Church Of The Holy Bonanza Cashflow, are attacking to control Brazil. The Bavarian Illuminati is defending, assisted by the Roman Catholic Church.

The dice haven't been rolled yet, but it looks like the Bavarians will successfully defend on a 4 or better (2d6):

Luiz Carlos Santana, pastor of the Door to Heaven Evangelical Mission, just a block away from the chapel, acknowledges that Expeditus's arrival has stolen some thunder from his own services, which include rites to expel evil spirits from congregants. "I will give the Catholics credit for clever marketing," he says.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished


There's a Marine in hot water over a picture he allegedly had taken in Iraq, which shows him posing with two Iraqi boys. All three are smiling, and one boy is holding a sign that says "Lcpl Boudreaux killed my dad. then he knocked up my sister." CAIR has got their shorts in a wad, seething, gnashing, demanding the guy's head, the usual. Just one teeny, tiny problem: there's some doubt as to exactly what the sign says.

The thing in all this that got my attention was a paragraph from the Marine Corps Times story:

Gunnery Sgt. Jamal Baadani, the president and founder of the Association of Patriotic Arab Americans in Military, is on a one-year tour in the Middle East. There, he gives cultural lessons to newly assigned personnel and is Chief of Host Nation Training Support Coordination.

“This picture and sign directed towards a Muslim family is inexcusable,” he said via e-mail. “Inexcusable because if this lance corporal was given a basic class on Islam, he would have known that remarks such as ‘knocking up’ a Muslim Arab woman is not tolerated and violates the honor of a Muslim woman and her family.

“If it was a local Iraq Arab that did this, he would have been shot by a family member on the spot for violating their family honor,” he said.
I think his last sentence was misquoted. It's far more likely that it really read "If it was a local Iraqi Arab that did this, she would have been shot by a family member on the spot for violating their family honor."

We Can Do This Easy, Or We Can Do This Hard


It seems there are two schools of thought on how to properly deal with Iraq:

  • Kill them with kindness.
  • Kill them.
(I'm leaving out options like pulling out or bringing in the U.N. This blog is dedicated to fighting dangerous stupidity, not promoting it.)

I'm being overly glib here, but you know what I mean. Proponents of the former say that by wielding too heavy a hand, the population as a whole will turn against us. Proponents of the latter say that restraint on our part is interpreted by the Iraqis as weakness and encourages the insurgents.

I know this is the superficialest (is that even a word? it is now) of the many superficial takes I've expressed here, but the point I'm trying to make is this: we seem to be going back and forth between the two. Why, then, are we always wrong when we do either?

Follow The Money, Broadcast Style

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Followup to my annual rant against Indiana not observing DST: turns out that the reason the local broadcast stations stick with primetime starting at 8:00 PM (like Eastern Time) is so they can keep the 7-8 PM hour for local programming, which is far more lucrative than the 1-2 AM hour they'd have if they went with a 7:00 PM primetime start. So they're jacking us around for the money.

The only reason they can get away with doing that is because Indiana doesn't change time. So now I've got to add them to the Farm Bureau as Powerful Shadowy Forces that oppose progress in Indiana.


In case you're wondering why I generally don't post much on weekends, it's because the folks in my neighborhood like to, um, enjoy themselves. For instance, my neighbor Chumley's birthday was yesterday, and we hoisted a few in his honor. As a result, I now feel like this:
Chris the day after Chumley's birthday party

Karma And Other Concepts I'm Fond Of

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Fair warning: this post is mainly about Survivor, and is rated R for language. If you're not a fan, but adult language doesn't bother you, pick up your reading where indicated on the extended entry.

"Is This Where The Streaking Party Is?"

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al-Reuters has this report on some of the other events going on during Iraq's Rebellion Week:

This week's sudden Shi'ite uprising, coinciding with the U.S. crackdown on Sunni towns like Falluja and Ramadi, has drawn some expressions of Sunni-Shi'ite solidarity, but it is not clear whether the rebel groups are coordinating.

Thousands of Sunni and Shi'ite protesters gathered outside Baghdad's Um al-Qura mosque, chanting slogans in support of people in Falluja, Kerbala and other conflict zones. Similar rallies took place in Mosul and Baquba, north of the capital

"We will carry our swords and strike the Americans on their heads," a Sunni cleric yelled. Trucks with food and other goods then left Baghdad for Falluja, which is ringed by U.S. forces. [emphasis added]
So he's going to bring a knife... to a gun fight. Apparently he's never seen this film.

And I Thought I Was The Only One Who Noticed


I was all ready to drop a big "WTF, O?" on Garry Trudeau for what I thought was a pretty offensive Doonesbury where he refers to NSA Rice as 'Brown Sugar.' Evidently, it wasn't as offensive as I thought, because I couldn't find any reference to the NAACP, or the CBC, or Jesse Jackson, or Al Sharpton, or any of the usual race-baiters, criticizing him for it. The only thing I saw was a press release from the Independent Women's Forum condemning the strip. At press time, the IWF link, interestingly, seems to be down, but a Google search makes it pretty clear that it is a right-of-center organization. What a surprise.

However, American Digest got there firster and betterer. Read the whole thing, but here's the money quote:

The full strip can be seen on Slate so you can see the deep and biting "humor" of the entire strip. After all, it's not everyday that a Pulitzer-Prize winning humorist can work miscegenation, illicit sex, slavery, infidelity, and the Old Plantation into a single panel of Bush-Hate. No wonder his signature graces this panel so proudly.

Perhaps the next time Mr. Trudeau decides to scrape the bottom of his soul for a strip, he should just turn in one which has a picture of George Bush in one panel, a picture of Ms. Rice in the other panel, and the lyrics of the above song ['Brown Sugar' by the Rolling Stones] in the two other panels. Just so everybody, at long last, gets it.

And as an additional bonus, his post also has the lyrics. Great - that's one less karaoke song I'll have to mumble through!

I'm just kidding. I'll still mumble through it.

I'm still kidding. I don't do karaoke [sigh of relief from both my readers].

Update: Trudeau's taking a little heat in his comments section (the link may only be good for a few days as comments from more recent strips pile up on it). Also, I'm the second-highest blog listed on Google for 'Garry Trudeau "brown sugar"', even though several other blogs have a smarter take on the issue. Some of them:

  • Catch Me If You Can: "Just another coded message from a liberal icon to black Americans: Wander off the plantation, and you'll get branded a "Steppin' Fetchit", a "house negro", a "skeeza", or worse. Real classy."
  • Gods of Commerce: "Now, the ruling guru of lefty fundamentalism, the man nearly all lefties turn to for their daily political catechism, has shown his true plantation racist colors."
  • the-crease.org: "Picture the outrage were a conservative cartoonist to label a leading black female woman in a Democratic administration "Brown Sugar." Oh, I guess we can't...Democratic administrations aren't famous for putting black females in positions of heavy responsibility like the National Security Council. "
  • Croooow Blog: "The talking points have been disseminated... time to attack Rice the way they attacked Tripp, Harris, et al.... now she's "Brown Sugar" . . .."
  • The World's Greatest Deliberative Body: "Top Ten Other Nicknames Garry Trudeau has for Dr. Condoleeza Rice. . .."

What, You Didn't Already Know That?

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This WaPo story talks about how the Federal Government activated an 'everybody scatter!' dispersal plan on 9/11 to ensure the Government would continue to function (at least as well as it ever does) if the terrorist attacks were a prelude to something bigger. Buried at the end of the article was this little gem:

The Washington Post reported in 2002 that as part of the plan, Bush has dispatched a shadow government of about 100 senior civilian managers to live and work secretly outside Washington. These officials have been rotating in and out of one of two fortified locations along the East Coast, according to three officials with firsthand knowledge, the story said.
Well, that ought to give the conspiracists something to get their panties in a bunch.

The Market In Action

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When I first moved to Fort Wayne almost 14 years ago, there were at least three companies operating first-run movie theaters in town. Over a period of several years, Regal Cinemas eventually acquired all of them.

A couple of funny things happened after that - the prices went up and the theaters started deteriorating. Since Regal had a local monopoly, they had no real incentive to keep prices low or invest anything in the local market.

A couple of years ago, Rave opened an 18-screen theater complex here. No longer did I have to deal with sticky floors, broken seats, and screens the size of a TV set; I could have a reclining seat with a headrest! And TWO cup holders! And tons of leg room with stadium seating so I could actually see the screen. And it was an honest-to-God full-size movie screen! It was like I'd died and gone to heaven, and didn't have to pay any more for the privilege. Sure, it was considerably harder to get to than the closest Regal multiplex, and parking was a bitch, but it was worth it.

Incidentally, Rave is a funny beast - they've got theaters scattered around the Southeast, Midwest, and Texas, but I can't discern any pattern. Maybe they specialize in cracking abused monopoly markets. But I digress.

Over the last couple of years, Rave's been beating Regal like a runaway red-headed circus stepchild chimp - Rave now has about 80% of the local market. As they've been doing that, they slipped in a couple of price increases and hoped we wouldn't notice. I noticed, but I didn't care since they were still light-years ahead of anything Regal offered locally.

Finally, Regal is fighting back. Last summer, they closed one of their local 8-plexes (the one nearest my house, not that I cared - I haven't set foot in a Regal theater since Rave opened) in order to remodel it into a - surprise! - 14-screen stadium-seating multiplex! It had its grand re-opening last Friday, and from all appearances it's quite spiffy. I haven't been there yet, but my son reports that it's 'very cool.' And here endeth today's lesson about the power of the free market.

One-Bullet Barneys In Action


It was a running joke when I lived in Saint Louis (1988-90): if you drove south on I-170 through the little crap suburb of Bel-Ridge, you'd always always always see a local cop under either the I-70 overpass or the Natural Bridge Road overpass. Sometimes both. Everybody just assumed they were there for revenue enhancement; why else would a town of 3,000 devote full-time police coverage to a one-mile stretch of Interstate?

Well, sometimes when you jump to conclusions, you land on the right answer. The depressing thing is they're still doing it:

[Bel-Ridge Police Chief Gordon] Brock tells officers in memos dating as far back as February 2001 that they would be demoted, lose overtime pay or face transfer to other shifts if they did not issue more traffic tickets. He often wrote such threats in a logbook that officers were expected to read and initial daily.

"Production looks terrible since I've been on vacation," Brock wrote in June 2001. "This definitely needs to get better or I will have to take other actions."

He also praised officers when their numbers went up. "Great job everyone for the fantastic job you did on bringing in revenue of Friday," Brock wrote in April 2001. "65 tickets. Wow!"

A memo that Lt. Daniel Clyne wrote March 17 to one of his sergeants stated that each of the four shifts (three have three officers and one has five) should write 238 tickets a month. The memo said each shift should have written 595 tickets at that point this year.

"Whether we like it or not, this department's survival still revolves around our ticket production," Clyne wrote. "This is a must."

A typical crack from the unfortunate speeder goes "Don't you guys have anything better to do than write speeding tickets all day?" It turns out that, yes, they do - they just ain't doing it:

With an average of nine violent crimes per 1,000 residents over the past three years, it ranks toward the high end of crime rates among St. Louis County communities.
. . .
Supervisors encourage their officers to ignore other law enforcement duties in order to write more traffic violations, according to two officers who worked at Bel-Ridge and agreed to describe their experiences if their names were protected.

They said Bel-Ridge commanders told them not to search vehicles or run computer checks of the drivers they stopped because either might lead to an arrest.

"If I arrest someone, I've got to spend three hours at the station processing him," said one of the officers. "I don't generate revenue that way.

"All they want you to do is write a ticket and kick the driver loose," the officer said. "We could have written a ticket to a known felon and let him go."

Some residents complain that crime in the neighborhoods often gets ignored while officers sit on Interstate 170, writing tickets.

It's bad enough that they spend a disproportional amount of time harvesting speeding tickets, but at least the drivers cited were actually in violation of traffic laws. But they used to run another scam that turned innocent drivers into violators:

In 2000, state officials intervened after finding evidence that officers were manipulating a crosswalk signal at busy Natural Bridge Road and Sargent Avenue to unfairly trap motorists.

A Missouri Department of Transportation official said he watched a police officer wait for motorists to approach and manually switch the light from flashing yellow to red at the last moment, as other police waited nearby with ready ticket books.

Drivers in one rear-end crash there blamed the police tactic for the accident. Publicity about the signal prompted many motorists to came forward, claiming they were victims of the entrapment.

The state Department of Transportation took the step of modifying the signal controls to prevent officers from manipulating it.
More detail is available here and here. The Courier-Post story has the police saying they didn't do anything wrong:
Bel-Ridge [then-]police chief Col. Gertrude Bogan denied any wrongdoing by her department.

"The only time we ever touched that signal was when kids got to the corner and needed to cross," she said.

Everybody Else Springs Ahead...


...Indiana gets left behind. Once again, the rest of the country moved forward one hour for Daylight Saving Time; once again, Indiana didn't. I've bitched about this before, and everything I said then still holds, but now there's another twist (actually, they did this last year, too, but I didn't write about it then). Our local broadcast stations have all decided to use Eastern Time for their network programming. Allegedly, this is to avoid confusion and keep them from having to run "Remember, this show airs one hour later starting next week" crawls for the week leading up to the time change.

I think this is colossally stupid of our local stations. Now, instead of having to remember just whether or not our TV is on Central Time (summer) or Eastern Time (winter), I have to remember whether the program I want to watch is on a cable station (their feed time didn't change, so they're on Central Time), a local station pre-recorded program (Eastern Time), or - and here's the twist that'll give brainlock to the average Hoosier couch potato - a local station live broadcast (Central Time)!

All this because the stupid Farm Bureau has the Legislature in their pockets.

See No Jihadis, Hear No Jihadis

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Update to Wednesday's story about last week's Howe shooting incident. Apparently the FBI thinks there might be something worth investigating after all:

Items found after the arrest of the man accused of firing on three people in Howe last week has led the FBI to investigate possible ties to terrorist organizations. Adel Al Yazidi, 34, was arrested March 26 in Trumbull County, Ohio, on three LaGrange County charges of attempted murder. After the arrest, police searched the Ashtabula County home where he was staying.

There, near the Pennsylvania border, they found a Mideastern video depicting various buildings and explosions, as well as sheets of counterfeit cigarette tax stamps, police said.

"There were some objects in his possession that kind of piqued our interest," FBI Special Agent Robert Hawk said Thursday. "I think it bears us looking into his background to see if there are any ties to terrorist groups overseas."

Hawk, of the FBI's Cleveland office, would not specify which objects were of interest or what terrorist groups Yazidi could be linked to.
However, not everybody's on board this train:
LaGrange County Prosecutor Jeff Wible said the state of Indiana has not changed its charges.

"I really have no information that this guy is connected to terrorism," Wible said. 'I'm really, really reluctant to tie him to terrorism. I just don't want to give any credence to that."
Why. The. Hell. NOT?!? Maybe he is, maybe he isn't - but you owe it to the people who elected you to have that investigated!

Ask The Imam About Etymology

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I think somebody was playing an April Fool's joke on Ask the Imam: Is it true that Tallahasse means "He Allah will deliver you sometime in the future?"

The Imam doesn't fall for it:

We do not know what the Tallahasse means.

and Allah Ta'ala Knows Best

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
In case you're wondering, it means "old town."

Who Blowed Up Da GameBoy?


(I swear this isn't an April Fools joke.) The Fort Wayne PD's bomb squad destroyed a suspicious metal case left in an airport restroom Tuesday; it was on the news and in the paper's print edition, but the only thing I could find on Google News at press time was this brief reference from an Indianapolis TV station. The story:

Airport evacuated after case found

Electronic gaming unit left in restroom

By Masaki Harada
The Journal Gazette
A suspicious metal case left in a restroom at Fort Wayne International Airport prompted the evacuation Tuesday of passengers in two airplanes and the airport's boarding area.

The case, about 12-by-12 inches, turned out to contain what investigators suspect was a handheld gaming unit, airport officials and Fort Wayne police said.

Airport security staff members were told there was a metal case in a restroom in the boarding area. An X-ray showed the case had numerous electric wires inside, airport spokeswoman Sandra Lux said. The case was locked and had no identification, she said.

. . .

The bomb squad deterimed the device inside the case was an electronic gaming machine, police spokesman Mike Joyner said.

Airport officials suspect the case was left in the restroom by someone who had exited a plane that landed at the airport, Lux said. Airport security did not recall finding such a case when searching passengers entering the boarding area, she said.

Police detonated the case without opening it as a precaution, Lux said.

--Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, April 1, 2004, p. A-1
Somewhere in the Fort Wayne area, some poor kid is saying "Dad, I can't find my GameBoy. I remember having it when I got off the plane..."

Hazard Pay

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Every time I hear that civilian contractors are attacked in Iraq (like yesterday), I worry a little bit, because we've got people over there supporting AFATDS. They're pretty safe, relatively speaking, since they work directly with the troops over there and don't go anywhere off post without a military escort. Still, this excerpt from an email sent by one of our field engineers shows that life is fraught with risks; life in Baghdad doubly so:

Do you know Sergei [names changed to protect whoever needs protecting] the FE that supports 10th Mountain. He was up in Baghdad when all of those rocket attacks were occurring a couple of weeks ago. One night the attacks occurred he was blown out of his cot from the concussion of the blast when the rocket impacted. The side of his tent was shredded. He sent home a piece a shrapnel as a souvenier. Two nights later he was in a building that had all of the windows blown out from a rocket attack. The window openings had been sandbagged so nobody inside the building was injured from the blast. Injuries from the first attack were minimal. Sergei said the unit start calling him "Rocket Man".


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