13 October 2005

The 10 Commandments of Coyote

For those of you who don't know Coyote, He is the native American version of Loki--a trickster deity enjoys life to the fullest. (You want to know more about Coyote read the novels of Charles De Lint, seriously.) In the meantime, however, you should also check out Cadhla's LiveJournal: http://www.livejournal.com/users/cadhla.

What follows is Cadhla's verion of Coyote"s 10 commandments. I gotta say: Well done!

Why Coyote Doesn't Give Commandments.
@ Seanan (cadhla) 2005-08-30

A friend of mine was talking the other day about God talking to Moses on the mountain, and handing down the commandments, and everything.

Which led to the point that my patron deity doesn't really do commandments. "Well, why not?" was asked.

"Um. Can you see Coyote giving commandments?" I replied.

...but of course, the damage was done, and I had to think about this now. Because that would be the way that my brain works, whether I want it to or not. Stupid brain. And now, after several days of thinking about it, I give you...

The Commandments of Coyote.

I. Thou Shalt Have As Many Gods and Spirits and Personal Trainers and Gurus As You Like Before Me, But You Shalt Not Let Them Block the Exits, and More, You Shall Not Permit Them To Take the Last Beer, For That Beer Is Mine. Seriously. Don't.

II. Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Wife, But Thou Art Totally Welcome To Admire Her Ass When She Walks By, and If It Happens To Come Out That They Are In An Open Relationship, Dude, Tap That Ass As Much As They Are Willing To Allow. Same Goes For the Ladies. Coveting Is Sort Of Stupid, But Sex Is Just Plain Fun, Unless Thou Art Doing It Entirely Wrong.

III. If Thy Neighbor Says 'Hands Off My Wife, Dude', Thou Shalt Listen and Back Off, Because Otherwise, Thy Neighbor Will Be Totally Justified In Hitting You About the Head and Shoulders With Gardening Tools, and Don't Think That I'm Going To Step In There and Stop Him.

IV. Adultery Is Actually Pretty Fun. Commit It All You Like. Just Make Sure Everyone Is Cool With It, Or I Will Not Help You Out Once the Hitting Gets Started.

V. Thou Shalt Not Eat Poisoned Bait. If You Do, Don't Come Whining To Me About It, Because I Am Very Unlikely To Care. Once It Is In Your Mouth, It Is Your Problem, Not Mine.

VI. Of Course Thou Shalt Kill. Carnivores Do That. Also, Swatt ing Mosquitoes, Sort Of Instinctive. But All Creatures Are Alive Before You Kill Them, and So Thou Shalt Respect Them In Their Lives and In Their Deaths. Thou Shalt Not Kill Without Reason. Thy Neighbor Tapping Thy Wife's Ass? Is Not A Reason. Don't Make Me Set A Plague Upon Thy Ass. Thou Wouldst Not Enjoy It, I Promise.

VII. Thou Shalt Not Hoard. Seriously, Here. If You Have Enough, Share. Only Asshats Bogart Life.

VIII. Thou Shalt Not Be A Martyr. If You Have One Beer, Drink It. Do Not Give It To Me and Then Expect Adoration. Dude, That Was Your Beer, I Did Not Break Your Arm To Get It. Give What You Can Give, and Expect Neither Praise Nor Worship. You Are Not Being Morally Superior, You Are Being A Decent Human Being. There Is A Difference.

VIV. Assume This Is It. Maybe There Is Reincarnation; Maybe Not. Not Only Am I Not Saying, Please Consider the Fact That I Probably Get A Say In Whether You Come Back, and If You Are the Sort Of Person Who Doesn't Do Anything With One Life, Why Should I Waste My Time Giving You Another One? Live Like You Get No Second Chances. You Will Have More Fun.

X. Are You Going To Eat That?
@ Seanan (cadhla)
cadhla's LiveJournal:
(A Free-Linking Zone, by her own words)

16 September 2005

The speech the president will not give

Last night we all heard the speech the President gave. He looked good--stood in front of a statue of Andrew Jackson (a president reknown for an heroic rescue of New Orleans during a time of crisis) in the historic French Quarter. He told us many hopeful things about how he would help the poor citizens of the region rebuilt and regroup after the hurricane. What he didn't tell us is how he 'd pay for all that rebuilding. So pardon me, Mr. President, if I doubt your credibility, doubt whether you rich friends will be asked to give up their tax cuts, doubt whether you really feel for those on the lower end of the social ladder one tenth as much as you care for the fantastic new porch Trent Lott is going to get. Old Hickory won't bolster that sagging image of yours, G. W.. It is far too little, and way too late. Now had you given us a different speech we might believe. . . .

From Salon.com: The speech the president will not give

We don't know whether Karl Rove has had enough time to focus on the president's prime-time speech from Louisiana tonight. Rove must be awfully busy with his new job -- we're
not making this up -- leading the White House's post-Katrina reconstruction efforts.

But George W. Bush can rest easily this afternoon, even if many of his fellow citizens can't. Americans have always been eager to help their president in times of need. And when we
asked you earlier today to offer advice for Bush about what he might say tonight, you responded in a way that reminded us of all that is good in this great nation. The president says he's ready to "take responsibility" for whatever the federal government did wrong in the wake of Katrina, and you've come through a veritable flood of ideas about where he could begin.

Here's the speech that War Room readers might write. Douglas O'Morain of Austin, Tex., gets us started, and then a list of would-be presidential advisors too long to mention fills in the blanks and connects the dots from there.

"My fellow Americans, while many people were at fault for our country's poor response to Hurricane Katrina, I am the president, and the buck stops with me. In addition to being the commander in chief, I believe that the president has a moral obligation to protect the people to the best of his ability. And in this case, I did not perform for you as I did on September the 11th, 2001. While I believe that there are many reasons behind the debacle in New Orleans and elsewhere in the wake of the hurricane, I accept full responsibility for the failures of the federal government. I will not shirk from blame; I will not pass the buck.

"I take responsibility for not having shown concern about the people or the situation in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast until it became clear that it was a
public relations disaster for my administration. I take responsibility for the fact that Katrina will go down as one of the 10 deadliest natural disasters in our nation's history -- and that the other nine all happened before helicopters were widely available for rescue missions.

"I take responsibility for packing FEMA, a federal agency America depends on in national emergencies, with political hacks with
no real qualifications for doing life-and-death jobs. I take responsibility for not making geography skills a priority for FEMA. I take responsibility for the fact that, while fires blazed out of control in New Orleans, 600 firefighters were stuck in a FEMA seminar on customer service in Atlanta. I take responsibility for telling Brownie that he was 'doing a heck of a job,' when, in fact, he sucked.

"I take responsibility for not asking Dick Cheney to end his
vacation sooner; for not asking Condoleezza Rice to end her shopping spree in New York sooner; for not asking Donald Rumsfeld to cut short his trip to the ballgame and mobilize soldiers for the relief effort. I take responsibility for sending large numbers of National Guard members from Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida to Iraq, making it impossible for them to act quickly to aid and the protect their homeland.

"I take responsibility for allowing one of my senior administration officials to insinuate that that I ignored the delay in the deployment of federal troops because I didn't want to
seem like I was bullying some chick governor.

"I take responsibility for allowing the nation's
poverty rate to rise four years in a row. I take responsibility for the fiscal policies and war plans that have left our country unable to perform its primary duty of protecting its citizens without going into further debt. I take responsibility for failing to give the Army Corps of Engineers' adequate funds to build and fortify levees in New Orleans. I take responsibility for consistently burying scientific evidence about global warming and other issues and paying people to re-word scientific reports so that they line up with my way of thinking.

"I take responsibility for
pretending to play guitar in California while New Orleans was flooding.

"I take responsibility
for saying, 'I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees,' when practically anyone who lived in New Orleans for the past 100 years could have anticipated it. I take responsibility for countless phony uses of the word 'folks' instead of 'people' to convince as many knuckle-draggers as possible that despite my massive wealth, Yale education and privilege I am really just as dumb and illiterate as they are.

"I take responsibility for the suffering that will follow from my decision -- between photo-op hops to the safest sites within the battered Gulf Coast -- to
suspend the Davis-Bacon Act protections for laborers working to rebuild the Gulf Coast and New Orleans. I take responsibility for issuing 'no-bid', 'cost-plus' contracts to those helping to re-build hurricane damaged areas, so my close personal friends and cronies can make millions taking advantage of the worst natural disaster in America's history -- just like they did in Iraq. I take responsibility for trying to further my political goals of allowing private/religious school vouchers, smashing unions, weakening environmental regulations and giving Halliburton a blank check during this time of great crisis.

"I take responsibility for having failed to say 'I take responsibility' for anything until it was politically expedient to do so. I take responsibility for being such an aggrogant, cranky, vindictive twit that my loyal aides have to draw straws to see which unlucky one has to bring me a reality check. I take responsibility for putting myself in the position of being elected to the most powerful position in the world knowing full well that I have neither the experience, imagination nor human compassion that are prerequisites for the job."

"May God bless the good folks in this part of the world. And may God continue to bless the United States of America."

--by Tim Grieve for the War Room, Salon.com

15 September 2005

Mr. President, this job can't be fun. . .

Many thanks to Andreas for sending me this closing bit from Bill Maher's show the other night:

"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you any more. There's no more money to spend--you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you used up the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

"Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

"But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.

"On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies, the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, a piece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans. Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side. "So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.' "

09 September 2005

Yo, Barbara! Let 'em eat cake, too!

I once said I'd've voted for Barbara Bush over her husband George had they both run for prez. And I wasn't joking then. As a First Lady she advocated literacy and reading programs. She wasn't (unlike Laura) just a wind-up Barbie doll. But, Babs, you blew it!

Not since Reagan was surprised by the cost of bread has anyone so close to the White House made it so very clear that the rarified atmosphere in that neighbborhood makes one unable to see what happens in the Real World (tm). Here's what Miz Bush had to say about all them po' folk and darkies her native state done took in. . . .
September 7, 2005

"Barbara Bush Calls Evacuees Better Off"


WASHINGTON, Sept. 6 - As President Bush battled criticism over the response to Hurricane Katrina, his mother declared it a success for evacuees who "were underprivileged anyway," saying on Monday that many of the poor people she had seen while touring a Houston relocation site were faring better than before the storm hit.

"What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas," Barbara Bush said in an interview on Monday with the radio program "Marketplace." "Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality."

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway," she said, "so this is working very well for them."

Mrs. Bush toured the Astrodome complex with her husband, former President George Bush, as part of an administration campaign throughout the Gulf Coast region to counter criticism of the response to the storm. Former President Bush and former President Bill Clinton are helping raise money for the rebuilding effort.

White House officials did not respond on Tuesday to calls for comment on Mrs. Bush's remarks.
Some of us, Barbara, aren't so impressed with your kind of hospitality.

03 September 2005

An Open Letter to Mr. Bush from Michael Moore

This was sent to me in an email by a friend (thanks, Michelle). the original can be seen on Michael Moore's blog (Go Michael!).

Vacation is Over... an open letter from Michael Moore to George W. Bush
Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with?

Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power. That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her!
I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.

Michael Moore

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them before they get to DC on September 21st.

29 August 2005

Chai Tiramisu

Ahhh decadence! Three of my favorite flavors together (chocolate, chai, and expresso) in my all time favorite dessert, tiramisu! This recipe came from the pages of Oregon Chai's website.

Chai Tiramisu
1 cup Oregon Chai Concentrate
20 oz. Cream Cheese
6 Tbsp. Sugar
4 Egg Yolks
1/2 cup Espresso
1/2 cup Coffee Liqueur
2 oz. Rum
1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
12 Ladyfingers
6 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Beat cream cheese, sugar and egg yolks until smooth. In a microwave, heat espresso, Original Chai Concentrate, coffee liqueur, rum and nutmeg until just warm. Add the ladyfingers and soak.

Finely chop or grind chocolate chips using pulse setting on food processor or blender. Line a 9" X 5" loaf pan with plastic wrap. Place 1/2 of the lady fingers up sides and on bottom of pan. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the ground chocolate and half of the cream cheese mixture. Add a layer of ladyfingers (using 1/2 of the remaining amount) over cream cheese mix. Add another layer of 1/3 chocolate and the rest of the cream cheese mixture. Lay the remaining ladyfingers on top. Refrigerate 12 hours. Unmold and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips.

02 August 2005

Amazingly Simple Home Remedies

Thanks to Julie and Phil for the following amusing advice!


1. If you are choking on an ice cube, don't panic. Simply pour a cup of boiling water down your throat and presto. The blockage will be almost instantly removed.

2. Clumsy? Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

3. Avoid arguments with the Mrs. about lifting the toilet seat by simply using the sink.

4. For high blood pressure sufferers: simply cut yourself and bleed for a few minutes, thus reducing the pressure in your veins. Remember to use a timer.

5. A mouse trap, placed on top of your alarm clock, will prevent you from rolling over and going back to sleep after you hit the snooze button.

6. If you have a bad cough, take a large dose of laxatives, then you will be afraid to cough.

7. Have a bad toothache? Smash your thumb with a hammer and you will forget about the toothache.

Sometimes, we just need to remember what the rules of life really are--you only need two tools: WD-40 and Duct Tape.
  • If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40.
  • If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

And remember:
  • Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
  • Never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom.
  • If you woke up breathing, congratulations! You get another chance.
  • And finally, be really nice to your family and friends; you never know when you might need them to empty your bedpan

19 July 2005

Stupid non-facts on the Internet

A friend sent me this well-meaning email about some "fun facts." Since I could see a few that were patently false I thought I'd Google someof them. When I did I found that there were hundreds of blogs out there simply repeating the same "facts," but no one who questioned any of them. I then did som REAL research (like, oh, going to an expert on the topic or going to the original source). So here are things you really SHOULD know about that “THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW” email circulating on the internet:

1. Money isn't made out of paper, it's made out of cotton.
“Normal paper--including notebook paper, newspaper, construction paper-- is all made out of cellulose, which comes from trees. The trees are chemically broken down into their individual wood fibers, and the cellulose fibers are chosen and formed into very thin sheets to create paper. Paper money, on the other hand, is made from paper made of rags. Cotton or linen fabric is beaten to create cotton or linen fibers. You have probably heard of "rag paper" or "fine linen writing paper." This is where it comes from. It turns out that rag fibers bond together much more firmly than fibers in regular paper. Rag fibers are basically unaffected by water, whereas cellulose fibers absorb water and come apart when they get wet. So paper money comes through the washer just fine, while cellulose paper comes unglued.” From “How Stuff Works” http://science.howstuffworks.com/question108.htm

2. The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.
It was written on parchment. See: http://www.archives.gov/national_archives_experience/charters/treasure/declaration_facts.html

3. The dot over the letter i is called a "tittle".
From the Oxford English Dictionary: “The dot over the letter i; a punctuation mark; a diacritic point over a letter; any one of the Hebrew and Arabic vowel-points and accents; also, a pip on dice.”

4. A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.
I can’t find a valid reference for this (anyone want to try the experiment?). I did, however, find one credible-sounding explanation on a personal website: “This is because the carbonation in the drink gets pockets of air stuck in the wrinkles of the raisin, which is light enough to be raised by this air. When it reaches the surface of the champagne, the bubbles pop, and the raisin sinks back to the bottom, starting the cycle over.” From: http://www.angelfire.com/ca6/uselessfacts/science/003.html

5. Susan Lucci is the daughter of Phyllis Diller.
: http://www.soapcentral.com/amc/news/991224-luccidiller.php

6. 40% of McDonald's profits come from the sales of Happy Meals.
But unlikely. It is possible, but according to one Business Week Daily article McDonald’s won’t give out profit breakdown stuff like that. I went through McDonald’s 2004 corporate financial statement http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/invest/pub/2004_Financial_Report.html and could not find such info. If anyone wants to delve further into McDonald’s profits and does find the answer let me know. And here’s an interesting business article that says Happy Meals are not doing McD’s any good: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/index.cfm?fa=viewfeature&id=690.

7. 315 entries in Webster's 1996 Dictionary were misspelled.
And unlikely. Most large manuscripts come to the publisher with hundreds of typos in the. Copyeditors are paid to find them. Then Proofreaders are paid to find the ones the copy editors missed. By the time the book goes to print there are probably few if any errors. There are quibbles about stylistic differences (colour or color? theater or theatre?). Sometimes there is an argument to accept a newer slang spelling in a dictionary as common usage as well as the traditional spelling (thru for through, nite for night). It could be that. In the end does it matter? Some reader will point out an error to a publisher (mostly because it gives them a kick to do so) and in the next edition it will be fixed. If this even happened in 1996 it has little relevance to Webster’s as produced today.

8. The 'spot' on 7UP comes from its inventor, who had red eyes. He was albino.
First of all Albino humans generally have blue eyes (albino mice have red eyes). And C. L. Grigg, the founder of 7up, was not an albino. The red dot appears on the label in the 1970s, the original label (the product was invented in 1929) was entirely red. See: http://www.snopes.com/business/names/7up.asp

9. On average, 12 newborns will be given to the wrong parents, daily.
First of all this is an impossible statement. Which hospitals? Which country? Twelve daily of all babies born in the US or in the world? Do the parents know they have the wrong children? If they don’t, and thus don’t report it, then who gathered the data to make this statement—and how?

In point of fact normal hospital procedure is to put a hospital bracelet with the mother’s name on it on a baby’s wrist in the delivery room (it happened that way with all 4 of my kids). Those bracelets don’t come off until baby goes home. You’d have to have a very illiterate group of parents and hospital employees to make this kind of error.

10. Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine are brother and sister.
But hardly news, no one ever made a secret of it. Lots of people in showbiz are related to other people in showbiz.

11. Chocolate affects a dog's heart and nervous system; a few ounces will kill a small sized dog.

True: The theobromine in chocolate can be dangerous to both dogs and cats. See: http://www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/cocoa.htm

12. Orcas (killer whales) kill sharks by torpedoing up into the shark's stomach from underneath, causing the shark to explode.
First of all “exploding sharks”? Come on, people, use some common sense! Orcas do hunt prey of all sizes but they hunt and kill in packs (much like wolves), harrying their prey until it tires and then biting it. See: http://www.cetacea.org/faqs.htm.

13. Most lipstick contains fish scales.
True & False.
Only a few lipsticks contain fish scales. The ones that have “pearlesence” (as in "pearl essence"). See: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/000331.html.

14. Donald Duck comics were banned from Finland because he doesn't wear pants.
Being Finnish, I have to take exception to this. As a matter of fact, DD is the most popular of all Disney characters. Every Christmas day all the Scandinavian TV channels play Disney cartoons from 3-6pm for the children to sit and watch while moms fix Christmas dinners. There is a real story behind this myth--as a budget cut Helsinki stopped buying DD comics for the kids at the youth centers. See: http://www.snopes.com/disney/films/finland.htm. American papers speculated that Donald and Daisy living together without being married had offended the Finns. The irony of that is that in Scandinavian countries most people live together for 2-3 years before getting married to be sure the relationship will work out.

15. Ketchup was sold in the 1830s as medicine.
I can’t find any reference to this as a medicine, although the idea of a 19th century traveling snake-oil salesman putting ketchup in his product is not unlikely. However had any buyer known of it they would also not been fooled b the claim of medicinal qualities as it was well-known as a condiment by the 1800s. It was a sauce often imported from China and Southeast Asia.

The Oxford English Dictionary notes the earliest reference to it in the 1700s, when housewives are encouraged to add it to their stock of condiments. From the OED: “A sauce made from the juice of mushrooms, walnuts, tomatoes, etc., and used as a condiment with meat, fish, or the like. Often with qualification, as mushroom ketchup, etc. [References:] 1711 LOCKYER Acc. Trade India 128 Soy comes in Tubbs from Jappan, and the best Ketchup from Tonquin; yet good of both sorts are made and sold very cheap in China. 1748 MRS. HARRISON House-kpr.'s Pocket-bk. i. (ed. 4) 2, I therefore advise you to lay in a Store of Spices,..neither ought you to be without..Kitchup, or Mushroom Juice. 1817 BYRON Beppo viii, Buy in gross..Ketchup, Soy, Chili~vinegar, and Harvey. 1840 DICKENS Barn. Rudge (1849) 91/1 Some lamb chops (breaded, with plenty of ketchup). 1874 COOKE Fungi 89 One important use to which several..fungi can be applied, is the manufacture of ketchup.”

16. Upper and lower case letters are named 'upper' and 'lower' because in the time when all original print had to be set in individual letters, the upper case' letters were stored in the case on top of the case that stored the smaller, 'lower case' letters.
See: http://www.mediumbold.com/04_thinking/type/letterform/case.html.

17. Leonardo da Vinci could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time
Da Vinci was ambidextrous. However, we have no evidence that he did left- and right-handed things simultaneously. This is an ongoing assumption that may have been a misinterpretation of the fact that he wrote with his left hand but wrote backwards so that his writing could only be read by holding it up to a mirror. See his bio at: http://www.mos.org/leonardo/bio.html.

18. Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War! II were made of wood.
But close! “In support of the war effort, the Academy handed out plaster Oscar statuettes during WWII. After the war, winners exchanged the plaster awards for golden statuettes.” From: http://www.oscar.com/legacy/faq/02.html#Q9

19. There are no clocks in Las Vegas gambling casinos.
According to one LV traveler, “There's a reason why casinos don't have clocks or windows and naturally they wanna keep you there long, make you forgetting the time, the longer you are there, the more you might lose.” From http://www.virtualtourist.com/travel/North_America/United_States_of_America/Nevada/Las_Vegas-836630/Warnings_or_Dangers-Las_Vegas-Casinos_Gambling-BR-1.html

20. The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan; there was never a recorded Wendy before!
Wendy is a diminutive for Gwendolyn, Gwennyth, and several other early Welsh name variants. What is interesting is that the author of Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie, had a god-daughter named Wendy. See: http://www.wendy.com/wendyweb/history.html.

21. There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with: orange, purple, and silver!
Though, it depends on what you mean by rhyme. Something like orange is harder to rhyme. End rhyme (the most common rhyme form) takes the last syllable of a word (in orange the would be the “ge” sound) and finds words with similar sounding endings. Orange, thus, rhymes with challenge and lozenge. Try it yourself for these words: http://www.rhymer.com/ .

22. Leonardo Da Vinci invented scissors. Also, it took him 10 years to paint Mona Lisa's lips.
False & False:
Scissors were in common use by Leonardo’s time. “Scissors were invented thousands of years ago (roughly 1500 B.C.) in ancient Egypt. Early scissors have been found in ancient Egyptian ruins. These early scissors were made from one piece of metal (unlike modern scissors, which are made from two cross-blades which pivot around a fulcrum). Modern cross-bladed scissors were invented in ancient Rome (roughly A.D. 100). Early scissors were used by clothes makers and barbers. Scissors were not in common use until much later, in the 1500's (in Europe).” From: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/inventors/indexs.shtml.

As for the Mona Lisa, Da Vinci began it in 1503 and finished it in 1506. See: http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/vinci/joconde/

23. A tiny amount of liquor on a scorpion will make it instantly go mad and sting itself to death.
But unlikely. I couldn’t track this one down yet. But the idea hardly seems logical since the position of the stinger would make this action if not impossible at least anatomically difficult. I sent an email to a scorpion expert at the University of Kentucky asking for more info and he said:

This is an old urban myth, kind of like the thing with the stripes on a wooly worm, but I don't know if anyone has scientifically proven or disproven it one way or the other. This would be a good science project for someone out west!
B. Newton
University of Kentucky Entomology

24. The mask used by Michael Myers in the original "Halloween" was a Captain Kirk mask painted white.
This tidbit is a really good example of why not to trust the internet. The first reference I saw when looking this up confused Halloween with Friday the 13th--and mentioned a hockey goalie mask. Not having any experience with either film myself, I didn't know the difference until a friend pointed it out. (Thanks, Gunther!) I did see the film trailer which showed the clown mask, so originally said this was a "false" fact and referred to the clown and goalie masks. (Should have followed my own rules--internet research rule #1: always go to the original source!) If you go to the films' website at: http://www.halloweenmovies.com/site/lobby.html it says:

  • "The idea was to make him almost humorless, faceless - this sort of pale visage that could resemble a human or not," said Hill. "First came a clown mask, which we all thought was eerie and scary," Wallace told Fangoria. "A clown mask really shakes you up a bit, so we knew we were on solid footing." Then came the Kirk mask. Wallace visited Burt Wheeler's Magic Shop on Hollywood Boulevard. He bought a Captain Kirk mask for $1.98, "widened the eye holes and spray-painted the flesh a bluish white. In the script it said Michael Myers' mask had 'the pale features of a human face' and it truly was spooky looking. It didn't look anything like William Shatner after Tommy got through with it."

Mea culpa!

25. If you have three quarters, four dimes, and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.
Do the math. But on an interesting facts scale I gotta say this is pretty useless.

26. By raising your legs slowly and lying on your back, you can’t sink in quicksand.
The less weight you present to the surface of the quicksand the slower the sinking process. Laying flat you present fewer pounds per square inch. The irony is that most quicksand is only a few feet deep. Standing you are simply stuck till you dig yourself out with your hands. See: http://science.howstuffworks.com/quicksand.htm for an ineresting video on how to escape quicksand

27. The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law, which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb.
While it was legal to “chastise” a wife in England, there has never been such a stick size law. See: http://dynamic.uoregon.edu/~jjf/essays/ruleofthumb.html

28. The first product Motorola started to develop was a record player for automobiles. At that time, the most known player on the market was the Victrola, so they called themselves Motorola.
Motorola’s goal has always been to promote communications technology, by beginning with car radios, although they did produce a home tabletop phonograph: “Motorola’s role as pioneer, innovator and visionary in mobile communications is well-known. Originally founded as the Galvin Manufacturing Corporation in 1928, Motorola has come a long way since introducing its first product, the battery eliminator.” As for the name, “Galvin Manufacturing Corporation founder Paul V. Galvin created the brand name "Motorola" for the company's new car radio, linking "motor" (motorcar, motion) with the suffix "ola" (sound)” in 1930. See: http://www.motorola.com/content/0,,115-110,00.html.

29. Celery has negative calories! It takes more calories to eat a piece of celery than the celery has in it to begin with. It's the same with apples!
True & False:
Yes on celery: http://www.snopes.com/food/ingredient/celery.asp; no on the apples. Though both are far better for you that that Happy Meal above. . . .

30. Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying!
It has nothing to do with gum. It is that some people find that if they breathe through their mouths rather than their noses they avoid the problem of the enzyme that causes tearing getting near the sinuses. http://www.ehow.com/tips_13796.html. Me, I close my mouth when chewing anything—wouldn’t work for me or anyone else with manners!

31. The glue on Israeli postage stamps is certified kosher.
“The laws of kashrut do not apply only to actual foods, but to anything that can be ingested. For this reason, Israeli postal stamps use a glue that is certified kosher. (Glue comes from collagen, which is found in the connective tissues of animals - see gelatin for more on that topic).” From: http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node=Kosher

32. Guinness Book of Records holds the record for being the book most often stolen from Public Libraries.
Not even on the list of most frequently checked out! A list-serve for librarians lists the following as the most often stolen:

  • “The Anarchist's Cookbook and The Joy of Sex (and The Joy of Gay Sex)”
  • “anything on Witchcraft/occult (fiction AND nonfiction), Rap and Heavy metal CDs, car/truck repair manuals, GED/ASVAB/post office/police officer(!) study guides”
  • “GED exam books (ARCO, Barron's)”--“anything by or about Jim Morrison. Books about palmistry and the occult . . . Mutual Fund Forecaster and the Wall Street Journal . . . homework support books”
  • “rap music and anything by Led Zeppelin”
  • some of the above “and self-defense books”

From various emails online at: http://lists.webjunction.org/wjlists/publib/1996-May/subject.html#73831

33. Astronauts are not allowed to eat beans before they go into space because passing wind in a space suit damages it
False: They even eat beans while in space. See: http://www.space.gc.ca/asc/eng/kidspace/q&a/living_food.asp

04 July 2005

Why I don't want to put out my flag today. . .

I used to put my American flag out every Flag Day and fly it proudly all summer. Then 9/11 happened. Like others I was stunned. I set my flag to half mast. I was cheered by the flags that began to appear everywhere. I was moved by the outpouring of American unity, of world-wide support and sentiment. All right I was taken aback by the neighbor who taped a row of little plastic flags to a sheet of plywood propped up by two garbage cans at the end of his driveway on which he spray painted (in red, white, and blue) the words: "God Bless America! Nuke Them All!" That was not at all what I thought America stood for.

Then two American citizens who were Sikhs, members of a very peaceful religion who happen to wear beards and turbans that look similar to Osama bin Laden's, were beaten up on a local university campus. I chalked it up to the emotional extremes of the times and hoped it wouldn't happen again. But it did.

Then we invaded Afghanistan and I was confused. Weren't the terrorists who flew those planes on 9/11 mostly from Saudi Arabia? Why Afghanistan? And soon we were gearing up to invade Iraq. . . because of terrorists. . . No, because of nuclear bombs Hussein was going to use on us. . . a preemptive strike (never mind that the only people on the planet who have ever really used atomic weapons on another people was us). . . No wait--no WMDs? He's got chemical weapons (never mind that we gave them to him)? Instead we are bringing democracy to Iraq? How's that work again? We bomb the hell out of them until we can call it a free country and then sell them franchises in McDonalds? Built them some Walmarts?

And "United We Stand" which seemed to mean something back when I was a kid--and which felt real for a while after 9/11--now feels more like "United Stand WE against" all YOU who are poor or gay or black or brown or Asian or immigrants or union or any religion other than Christian or all you who act too frigging liberal for the rest of us good democracy loving (except when we want you to vote OUR way for president) REAL Americans.

So where does that leave me? Well, I used to be proud to be American. Now I am just confused about what American means. And so I'm not waving a flag anymore. Not until we come to our colective senses. If the Patriot Act doesn't let someone lock me up first.

Silly me, I thought it was a free country.

You tell 'em Heather

from Salon.com http://www.salon.com/ent/tv/review/2005/07/04/i_like/

I Like to Watch!

Sing happy birthday to a nation of nasty despots, swarthy heroes and cringing, ineffectual oddballs, from Tommy Hilfiger to Bobby Brown!

By Heather Havrilesky

July 4, 2005 | I believe I can fry!

So many years ago, this great nation of ours was born! It took a lot of blood, sweat and Big Gulps, but those courageous patriots (who were actually traitors to their own homeland, but no matter) fought for what they believed in. And what did they believe in? Freedom! Freedom from op-pres-sion. The freedom to march across tangled forests filled with dirty savages and proclaim, "All these miles of tangled forest are mine! Mine, all mine, baby!"

Imagine the freedom those courageous patriots (who were traitors back home and religious extremists to boot, but no matter) must have felt, as they chopped through those virgin forests, clearing room for their humble log cabins, the first baby steps down the path to a glimmering world of asphalt and strip malls and McMansions! Imagine the freedom those fine men must've felt as they passed out chicken-pox-infected blankies at the local powwow! How proud they must've been, returning home to their chattel and their children and their womenfolk, how proudly they must've spoken of purposely infecting the savage populace with infectious diseases! "And them that's left, we'll drive 'em West! West to the dusty Badlands where corn don't grow near as well, 'cause that's how we roll, yo!"

Today, as you gaze out at that vast and beautiful swath of Outbacks and Targets and Applebee's and Home Depots and Linens 'n' Things that butts up against the back wall of your property, as you peek through the vertical blinds and out the sliding glass doors at the blinking lights of Wal-Mart and Pier I Imports, as you sink your toes into the buttery wall-to-wall carpeting of your glorious one-bedroom condo, remember those extreme religious fanatics and their humble quest to conquer and destroy and strong-arm their way to freedom. And remember, freedom is still on the march! We've still got conquering and destroying and strong-arming to do, if we're going to bring nacho platters and Megaritas and rug and room deodorizers to those quizzical foreign peoples!

Then as now, if there are kneecaps to kick in and heads to blow off and national landmarks to destroy, that's what we'll do to make sure that there's a basket of barbecue chicken wings in every pot, and no man, woman or child grows up without fried food in his belly and piles of worthless shit packed into the closets and shelves and utility rooms of his domicile! God bless this great land of ours! Happy birthday, America, and amen!

24 June 2005

Karl Rove: Our Tax Dollars Wasted!

From Salon.com today!

Karl Rove: Your tax dollars at work

As you ruminate today over Karl Rove's slanderous comments in New York -- that liberals wanted to respond to 9/11 with "therapy and understanding," that the true "motives of liberals" is to put U.S. troops at risk -- you might want to remember this. Rove isn't just a political consultant anymore. He's a highly paid federal employee.

Rove collects $157,000 a year as a senior advisor to the president. That would be $157,000 of "your money," as George W. Bush would surely put it in any other context.

And if you're not happy that $157,000 a year of "your money" is going to a man that just slandered a broad swath of the American public, well, you're not alone. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who not long ago found himself apologizing to Rove for calling Bush "a loser," has just turned the tables and called on Rove to apologize for or resign over his remarks. Here's Reid's statement:

"I am deeply disturbed and disappointed that the Bush White House would continue to use the national tragedy of September 11th to try and divide the country. The lesson our country learned on that terrible morning is that we are strongest when we unite together, that America’s power is in its common spirit of democracy and freedom.

"Karl Rove should immediately and fully apologize for his remarks or he should resign. The lesson of September 11th is not different for conservatives, liberals or moderates. It is equally shared and was repeatedly demonstrated in the weeks and months following this tragedy as Americans of all backgrounds and their elected representatives rallied behind the victims and their families, united in our common determination to bring to justice those responsible for these terrible attacks.

"It is time to stop using September 11th as a political wedge issue. Dividing our country for political gain is an insult to all Americans and to the common memory we all carry with us from that day. When it comes to standing up to terrorists, there are no Republicans or Democrats, only Americans. The Administration should be focused on uniting Americans behind our troops and providing them a strategy for success in the war on terror and the conflict in Iraq. I hope the president will join me in repudiating these remarks and urge Mr. Rove to take appropriate action to right this terrible wrong."

The response from the White House so far? Press Secretary Scott McClellan says that Rove was just "talking about the different philosophies and our different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism."

-- Tim Grieve on Salon.com [14:00 EDT, June 23, 2005]

Read more from the Salon Archived War Room:
06/22/2005, 06/21/2005, 06/20/2005, 06/17/2005, 06/16/2005, 06/15/2005

12 June 2005

What Would Genghis Khan Do?

This is too funny. Now I want to make red and black beaded bracelets that say WWGKD for all my friends!

The New Motto: WWGKD?

by Jonathan Hall
I was driving on the freeway last Saturday night when I was abruptly cut off and nearly run off the road.

I began to think to myself, amid a variety of four letter words in my vocabulary, of a recourse in action. As I began to plot my revenge I realized something. People are heathens. Yes, we all claim to be innately good people, warmly supporting the constitution and care of others, but we all know that’s a lie. More importantly, how can I capitalize on this little known fact?

As the initials escaped my friend Judd’s mouth, I knew that this would in fact become the most successful product in history. WWGKD. As I returned to the scene in my head, picturing what I did do, and what I could have done, I began to smile. Not just a casual smile either, or one of those Cheshire cat grins. I’m talking about one of that Kool-Aid, you-know-what-eating grins. We all know what Jesus would do. Jesus would forgive him, bless him and let him go on his way. Jesus was a much bigger man than I am.

Since I am not fit to follow in his steps, I decided to follow the teachings of another great leader. And so I asked myself, what would Genghis Khan do? According to the historical readings I have so exhaustively researched, he would most likely follow him home screaming expletives in Mongolian, annihilate him and his entire family including the family pet, burn his crops, steal his livestock and set an example to the other drivers on the road. Then he would probably say something witty in Mongolian about the driver’s mother being overweight, frumpy and unappealing.

More importantly, I began thinking about how many people need a solid male figure in their lives. Who better than one of the most powerful and influential people in history. Who cares if he was a little bit over the top? It’s just details. But I digress.
I began to see how big of an impact WWGKD could be.

Just imagine all of the things that annoy important people like me. Jared from those Subway commercials. People who watch Fear Factor. Slow drivers in the fast lane. Slow walkers on the South Oval. Televangelists who make millions of dollars using the faces of Ethiopian children. People who shout out commands to the characters on the movie screen in the theater (“Say something!,” “Don't go in there!,” etc.). Anyone who likes William Shatner or Keanu Reaves. People who make quotation marks with their hands. Nosebreathers. Whoever decided Carrot Top was a good choice to put on their advertisements. People who dress in clothes rather inappropriate for their body type. People who ask stupid questions. Waking up with no pants on in the South Oval on a Tuesday afternoon wondering what happened the night before.

Maybe I’m sharing too much. Regardless, the list could go on and on, but I only get so much space. Most of these problems can be easily solved in the WWGKD process. I’m talking amazing results. Apparently there’s something refreshing and renewing about wielding a samurai sword and screaming angrily in Mongolian. I suggest you try it sometime.

If you can’t get Mongolian language lessons, then you’ll have to hold off until Friday, May 6. More to come on that in my next article. Stay tuned. You won’t want to miss this nationwide event.

—Jonathan Hall is a marketing junior. His column appears every other Friday. He can be reached at opinion@oudaily.com

19 May 2005

The Lies that Led to War

The following piece comes from Salon.com:

The lies that led to war by Juan Cole

A leaked British memo, and other documents, make it clear that Bush intended all along to invade Iraq -- and lied about it to the American people. The full gravity of his offense has not yet sunk in.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
May 19, 2005 When Newsweek's source admitted that he had misidentified the government document in which he had seen an account of Quran desecration at Guantánamo prison, Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita exploded, "People are dead because of what this son of a bitch said. How could he be credible now?"

Di Rita could have said the same things about his bosses in the Bush administration.
Tens of thousands of people are dead in Iraq, including more than 1,600 U.S. soldiers and Marines, because of false allegations made by President George W. Bush and Di Rita's more immediate boss, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, about Saddam Hussein's nonexistent weapons of mass destruction and equally imaginary active nuclear weapons program. Bush, Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice repeatedly made unfounded allegations that led to the continuing disaster in Iraq, much of which is now an economic and military no man's land beset by bombings, assassinations, kidnappings and political gridlock.

And we now know, thanks to a leaked British memo concerning the head of British intelligence, that the Bush administration -- contrary to its explicit denials -- had already made up its mind to attack Iraq and "fixed" those bogus allegations to support its decision. In short, Bush and his top officials lied about Iraq.

Going to war is the most serious decision a president can make. It should never be approached in a cavalier fashion. American lives, the prestige and influence of the country, international relations, the health of its defenses, and the future of the next generation are at stake. Yet every single piece of evidence we now have confirms that George W. Bush, who was obsessed with unseating Saddam Hussein even before 9/11, recklessly used the opportunity presented by the terror attacks to march the country to war, fixing the intelligence to justify his decision, and lying to the American people about the reasons for the war. In other times, this might have been an impeachable offense.

The media circus around the Newsweek story arrived in time to further divert attention from the explosive British memorandum. Although the leaked Downing Street memo, published by the London Times on May 1, revealed the deeply dishonest and manipulative way that the Bush administration took the United States (and the United Kingdom) to war against Iraq, the American press corps studiously ignored it for two weeks.

The memo reported a July 2002 meeting of key British Cabinet and other officials, held when Sir Richard Dearlove, head of the British intelligence service, MI6, returned from a trip to Washington. It revealed that the decision to go to war had already been made by that point: "Military action was now seen as inevitable," the notes by British national security aide Matthew Rycrof revealed. Dearlove reported, "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

Members of the British Cabinet were worried by the news, the memo shows, since they knew that the case against Iraq was tissue-thin in international law and that there were several more egregious sinners in the weapons area than Iraq. Because the United Kingdom, unlike the United States, is a member of the International Criminal Court, its officials had to worry about being tried for war crimes if they became involved in an illegal war of aggression launched by Bush and lacking U.N. Security Council sanction. Prime Minister Tony Blair put his hopes in a ploy. He thought that Bush should arrange for the United Nations to demand a return to Iraq of weapons inspectors, with the hope that Saddam Hussein would refuse, thus creating a legal justification for war acceptable to the international community.

On May 6, Knight Ridder reporters Warren Strobel and John Walcott said that a former high official in the U.S. government told them that Dearlove's remarks were "an absolutely accurate description of what transpired" during his visit. This past Monday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan finally responded to the leaked document but denied that he had read it. Regarding the allegation that Bush fixed the intelligence around the Iraq war policy he said, "The suggestion is just flat-out wrong. Anyone who wants to know how the intelligence was used only has to go back and read everything that was said in public about the lead-up to the war."

It is hard to see how this absurdly vague methodology could actually refute the memo's charges or, indeed, to know what exactly McClellan was driving at. He added, "The president of the United States, in a very public way, reached out to people across the world, went to the United Nations, and tried to resolve this in a diplomatic manner." But as the memo makes clear, that "reaching out" was fraudulent, a smoke screen to cover a decision that had already been made. Bush went to the United Nations reluctantly and against the advice of the Cheney and Rumsfeld faction, mainly as a way of giving Saddam an ultimatum that would form the basis for a war.
The Bush administration, and some credulous or loyal members of the press, have long tried to blame U.S. intelligence services for exaggerating the Iraq threat and thus misleading the president into going to war. That position was always weak, and it is now revealed as laughable. President Bush was not misled by shoddy intelligence. Rather, he insisted on getting the intelligence that would support the war on which he had already decided. A good half of Americans, opinion polls show, now believe that the president actively lied to them about Iraq. In another, less cynical, flag-waving and intimidated age, this conclusion would provoke a scandal. The question would be, What did George W. Bush decide about Iraq, and when did he decide it?

The leaked British document demonstrates that the moment of decision was far earlier than the Bush administration publicly admitted. On Aug. 7, just weeks after the Dearlove visit to Washington, Cheney said in California that no decision had been made on Iraq. When Bush met with Saudi ambassador Bandar bin Sultan on Aug. 26, 2002, CNN reported that White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told the press, "The president stressed that he has made no decisions, that he will continue to engage in consultations with Saudi Arabia and other nations about steps in the Middle East, steps in Iraq." On Sept. 8, 2002, Cheney was interviewed by Tim Russert on "Meet the Press." Russert asked, "Will militarily this be a cakewalk? Two, how long would we be there and how much would it cost?" Cheney replied, "First of all, no decision's been made yet to launch a military operation."

The administration continued the charade that no decision had been taken through the end of 2002 and into 2003. In a White House press conference on Dec. 17, 2002, a questioner asked Fleischer, "The L.A. Times today published a poll that found that 72 percent of Americans, including 60 percent of Republicans, said the president has not provided enough evidence to justify starting a war with Iraq. Is the president losing the public relations battle here in the United States?"

"Well, one, I think that I'll just state what is well known," Fleischer replied. "The president will not make any decision about war and peace and the possibility of putting some of our nation's best men and women in harm's way on the basis of a poll. He will do it on the basis of his judgment as commander in chief and what it will take to save and protect American lives in the event that he reaches the conclusion Saddam Hussein will indeed engage in war against the United States or provide terrorists with weapons to engage in war against the United States, just like on September 11th with the attack. And if he reaches that judgment, he will do so because the information he has and the judgment he makes suggest that, not because of a poll."

The British memo is only the most decisive in a long list of documents that make it inescapably clear that Bush had decided to go to war long before. Indeed, Bush had decided as early as his presidential campaign in the year 2000 that he would find a way to fight an Iraq war to unseat Saddam. I was in the studio with Arab-American journalist Osama Siblani on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now" program on March 11, 2005, when Siblani reported a May 2000 encounter he had with then-candidate Bush in a hotel in Troy, Mich. "He told me just straight to my face, among 12 or maybe 13 Republicans at that time here in Michigan at the hotel. I think it was on May 17, 2000, even before he became the nominee for the Republicans. He told me that he was going to take him out, when we talked about Saddam Hussein in Iraq." According to Siblani, Bush added that "he wanted to go to Iraq to search for weapons of mass destruction, and he considered the regime an imminent and gathering threat against the United States." Siblani points out that Bush at that point was privy to no classified intelligence on Iraqi weapons programs and had already made up his mind on the issue.

Siblani's account of Bush's stance is virtually identical to the impressions Dearlove brought back from Washington a little over two years later: "Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD." Iraq had long played the great white whale to W.'s Ahab, and the chance to move decisively against Saddam was intrinsic to his presidential ambitions.

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill described to Ron Susskind in "The Price of Loyalty" the first Bush national security meeting of principals on Jan. 30, 2001. He writes that after Bush announced he would simply disengage from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and "unleash Sharon," he made it clear that Iraq would be a priority. "The hour almost up, Bush had assignments for everyone ... Rumsfeld and [Joint Chiefs chair Gen. H. Hugh] Shelton, he said, 'should examine our military options.' That included rebuilding the military coalition from the 1991 Gulf War, examining 'how it might look' to use U.S. ground forces in the north and the south of Iraq ... Ten days in, and it was about Iraq." Bush hit the ground running with regard to Iraq, shunting aside key U.S. foreign-policy goals -- such as a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict -- in favor of exploring military options against Saddam Hussein. O'Neill reports a sense at the meeting that the reluctance to commit ground forces to an Asian war, a legacy of the Vietnam War, had ended with the advent of the Bush presidency.

An Iraq war might have been a hard sell, even for the skilled and highly manipulative Bush team. But Sept. 11 ensured that they could get congressional approval and public support for a war. Americans were angry and willing to lash out in any direction specified by the president. Former terrorism czar Richard Clarke related that on the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, Bush "grabbed a few of us and closed the door to the conference room. 'Look,' he told us, 'I know you have a lot to do and all ... but I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything. See if Saddam did this. See if he's linked in any way...'" When Clarke protested that it was clearly an al-Qaida operation, Bush insisted, "Just look. I want to know any shred ... Look into Iraq, Saddam." According to Clarke, Bush said it "testily."

Clarke reveals that Rumsfeld was already, on the afternoon of Sept. 12, "talking about broadening the objectives of our response and 'getting Iraq.'" Although early accounts of National Security Council meetings after the attacks highlighted the role of Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in pressing for an immediate war on Iraq, it has become increasingly clear that he was only one such voice, and hardly the most senior.

Astonishingly, the Bush administration almost took the United States to war against Iraq in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11. We know about this episode from the public account of Sir Christopher Meyer, then the U.K. ambassador in Washington. Meyer reported that in the two weeks after Sept. 11, the Bush national security team argued back and forth over whether to attack Iraq or Afghanistan. It appears from his account that Bush was leaning toward the Iraq option.

Meyer spoke again about the matter to Vanity Fair for its May 2004 report, "The Path to War." Soon after Sept. 11, Meyer went to a dinner at the White House, "attended also by Colin Powell, [and] Condi Rice," where "Bush made clear that he was determined to topple Saddam. 'Rumors were already flying that Bush would use 9/11 as a pretext to attack Iraq,' Meyer remembers." When British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in Washington on Sept. 20, 2001, he was alarmed. If Blair had consulted MI6 about the relative merits of the Afghanistan and Iraq options, we can only imagine what well-informed British intelligence officers in Pakistan were cabling London about the dangers of leaving bin Laden and al-Qaida in place while plunging into a potential quagmire in Iraq. Fears that London was a major al-Qaida target would have underlined the risks to the United Kingdom of an "Iraq first" policy in Washington.

Meyer told Vanity Fair, "Blair came with a very strong message -- don't get distracted; the priorities were al-Qaida, Afghanistan, the Taliban." He must have been terrified that the Bush administration would abandon London to al-Qaida while pursuing the great white whale of Iraq. But he managed to help persuade Bush. Meyer reports, "Bush said, 'I agree with you, Tony. We must deal with this first. But when we have dealt with Afghanistan, we must come back to Iraq.'" Meyer also said, in spring 2004, that it was clear "that when we did come back to Iraq it wouldn't be to discuss smarter sanctions." In short, Meyer strongly implies that Blair persuaded Bush to make war on al-Qaida in Afghanistan first by promising him British support for a later Iraq campaign.

That the Afghanistan war went so well quickly enabled Bush to begin planning for an attack on Iraq. Bob Woodward reports in "Plan of Attack" that Bush asked Cheney for an Iraq war plan on Nov. 21. On Nov. 26 the Independent reported that Bush had called Saddam Hussein "evil" and demanded that he accept U.N. weapons inspectors. On Nov. 27 Howard Fineman of Newsweek reported a conversation with Bush aboard Air Force One in the wake of the successful Afghanistan campaign. "He wants to avoid the more profound mistakes his dad made...: his failure, at the end of the Gulf War, to stop -- once and for all -- Saddam Hussein in Iraq from threatening the world with weapons of mass destruction."

Nov. 27, 2001, was a significant date. Gen. Tommy Franks in his memoirs reveals that he received an unexpected call from Rumsfeld. "General Franks, the president wants us to look at options for Iraq." Franks knew exactly what the call portended. "Son of a bitch, I thought. No rest for the weary." There would be another war. The die had already been cast.

On Dec. 31 Newsweek reported, "In principle, Bush and his national-security team have decided that Saddam has to go, U.S. officials say. 'The question is not if the United States is going to hit Iraq; the question is when,' says a senior American envoy in the Middle East." The article notes Bush's oft-stated caution that no final decision had been made, but dismisses it on the basis of insider information. The main credit for this article was given to Christopher Dickey and John Barry, but Sami Kohen is listed as reporting from Turkey. Since a U.S. ambassador is quoted, and Kohen was the only one of the coauthors in the Middle East, he is likely the one who got the quote. Was his source Ambassador W. Robert Pearson?

Former Sen. Bob Graham of Florida says in his memoirs, "Intelligence Matters," that on Feb. 19, 2002, he visited the U.S. Central Command. Franks revealed to him that the command was no longer engaged in a war in Afghanistan. Graham was taken aback. Franks told the stunned senator, "Military and intelligence personnel are being re-deployed to prepare for an action in Iraq." The implementation phase had already begun.

In April 2002, Tony Blair went to see Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch. Vanity Fair reports that Blair stressed the need to get the backing of the United Nations for an Iraq war if he was going to swing Parliament behind it.

This long-term obsession of George W. Bush, then, was the background of the meeting in Washington with Dearlove in July 2002. Although Dearlove reported on a change of mood, such that the Iraq war was now a sure thing, he was probably actually observing that Bush had moved it to the front burner. By late July or very early August 2002, according to Vanity Fair, Blair had called Bush. A senior White House official who saw the transcript remarked, "The way it read was that, come what may, Saddam was going to go; they said they were going forward, they were going to take out the regime, and they were doing the right thing." Blair, he said, did not need any convincing. Both Blair and Bush would go on telling the public for months afterward that no final decision had been made about going to war.

It was also in midsummer 2002 that Franks asked Rumsfeld for $750 million to begin making preparations in Kuwait toward an Iraq war. The request, reported in Woodward's "Plan of Attack," provoked a good deal of controversy. Many in Congress felt that no specific appropriation had been made for such preparations, and the money was essentially taken from Afghanistan appropriations without congressional approval.

From Bush's meeting in May 2000 with Osama Siblani and 12 Republicans in a hotel room in Troy, Mich., until July 2002, his obsession with attacking Iraq never wavered. His first national security meeting was all about Iraq. He seriously considered attacking Iraq before Afghanistan after Sept. 11, and Blair had to argue him into the Afghanistan war. He had Rumsfeld ask Gen. Franks for an Iraq war plan on Nov. 27, 2001. The sense that Dearlove had, that the die had been inexorably cast by July 2002, was entirely correct.

But it is no positive reflection on the head of MI6 that he had not been able to discern that the die had been cast long before. The Downing Street memo is remarkable only for the frankness with which it acknowledges the illegality of the planned war and Bush's policy of "fixing" the intelligence around the policy. That the decision was made first, and various pretexts advanced for it in the aftermath, is now clear to the public.

Why has there not been more outrage in the United States at these revelations? Many Americans may have chosen to overlook the lies and deceptions the Bush administration used to justify the war because they still believe the Iraq war might have made them at least somewhat safer. When they realize that this hope, too, is unfounded, and that in fact the war has greatly increased the threat of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil, their wrath may be visited on the president and the political party that has brought America the biggest foreign-policy disaster since Vietnam.
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About the writerJuan Cole is a professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan and the author of "Sacred Space and Holy War" (IB Tauris, 2002).

Related stories Afraid to tell the truth A secret memo publicized in Britain confirms the lies on which Bush based his Iraq policy. Why has it received so little notice in the U.S. press?By Joe Conason 05/06/05
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All I have to say personally is: "WAKE UP AMERCA!"

19 April 2005

If I ever become an Evil Overlord

The Top 100 Things I'd Do If I Ever Became an Evil Overlord

1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.

2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.

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

4. Shooting is not too good for my enemies.

5. 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.

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

7. 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."

8. After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.

9. I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labelled "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 labelled as such.

10. I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.

11. I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.

12. 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.

13. All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied
into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.

14. The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.

15. I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.

16. I will never utter the sentence "But before I kill you, there's just one thing I want to know."

17. When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.

18. I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.

19. I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero's rugged countenance and she'd betray her own father.

20. Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it's too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.

21. I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my Legions of Terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman ootsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.

22. No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.

23. I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.

24. I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)

25. No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery which is completely indestructible except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.

26. No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.

27. I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.

28. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.

29. I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.

30. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be preemptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.

31. All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.

32. I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.

33. I won't require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.

34. I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.

35. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.

36. I will not imprison members of the same party in the same cell block, let alone the same cell. If they are important prisoners, I will keep the only key to the cell door on my person instead of handing out copies to every bottom-rung guard in the prison.

37. If my trusted lieutenant tells me my Legions of Terror are losing a battle, I will believe him. After all, he's my trusted lieutenant.

38. If an enemy I have just killed has a younger sibling or offspring anywhere, I will find them and have them killed immediately, instead of waiting for them to grow up harboring feelings of vengeance towards me in my old age.

39. If I absolutely must ride into battle, I will certainly not ride at the forefront of my Legions of Terror, nor will I seek out my opposite number among his army.

40. I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. If I have an unstoppable superweapon, I will use it as early and as often as possible instead of keeping it in reserve.

41. Once my power is secure, I will destroy all those pesky time-travel devices.

42. When I capture the hero, I will make sure I also get his dog, monkey, ferret, or whatever sickeningly cute little animal capable of untying ropes and filching keys happens to follow him around.

43. I will maintain a healthy amount of skepticism when I capture the beautiful rebel and she claims she is attracted to my power and good looks and will gladly betray her companions if I just let her in on my plans.

44. I will only employ bounty hunters who work for money. Those who work for the pleasure of the hunt tend to do dumb things like even the odds to give the other guy a sporting chance.

45. I will make sure I have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what in my organization. For example, if my general screws up I will not draw my weapon, point it at him, say "And here is the price for failure," then suddenly turn and kill some random underling.

46. If an advisor says to me "My liege, he is but one man. What can one man possibly do?", I will reply "This." and kill the advisor.

47. If I learn that a callow youth has begun a quest to destroy me, I will slay him while he is still a callow youth instead of waiting for him to mature.

48. I will treat any beast which I control through magic or technology with respect and kindness. Thus if the control is ever broken, it will not immediately come after me for revenge.

49. If I learn the whereabouts of the one artifact which can destroy me, I will not send all my troops out to seize it. Instead I will send them out to seize something else and quietly put a ant-Ad in the local paper.

50. My main computers will have their own special operating system that will be completely incompatible with standard IBM and Macintosh powerbooks.

51. If one of my dungeon guards begins expressing concern over the conditions in the beautiful princess' cell, I will immediately transfer him to a less people-oriented position.

52. I will hire a team of board-certified architects and surveyors to examine my castle and inform me of any secret passages and abandoned tunnels that I might not know about.

53. If the beautiful princess that I capture says "I'll never marry you! Never, do you hear me, NEVER!!!", I will say "Oh well" and kill her.

54. I will not strike a bargain with a demonic being then attempt to double-cross it simply because I feel like being contrary.

55. The deformed mutants and odd-ball psychotics will have their place in my Legions of Terror. However before I send them out on important covert missions that require tact and subtlety, I will first see if there is anyone else equally qualified who would attract less attention.

56. My Legions of Terror will be trained in basic marksmanship. Any who cannot learn to hit a man-sized target at 10 meters will be used for target practice.

57. Before employing any captured artifacts or machinery, I will carefully read the owner's manual.

58. If it becomes necessary to escape, I will never stop to pose dramatically and toss off a one-liner.

59. I will never build a sentient computer smarter than I am.

60. My five-year-old child advisor will also be asked to decipher any code I am thinking of using. If he breaks the code in under 30 seconds, it will not be used. Note: this also applies to passwords.

61. If my advisors ask "Why are you risking everything on such a mad scheme?", I will not proceed until I have a response that satisfies them.

62. I will design fortress hallways with no alcoves or protruding structural supports which intruders could use for cover in a firefight.

63. Bulk trash will be disposed of in incinerators, not compactors. And they will be kept hot, with none of that nonsense about flames going through accessible tunnels at predictable intervals.

64. I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be a disadvantage.

65. If I must have computer systems with publically available terminals, the maps they display of my complex will have a room clearly marked as the Main Control Room. That room will be the Execution Chamber. The actual main control room will be marked as Sewage Overflow Containment.

66. My security keypad will actually be a fingerprint scanner. Anyone who watches someone press a sequence of buttons or dusts the pad for fingerprints then subsequently tries to enter by repeating that sequence will trigger the alarm system.

67. No matter how many shorts we have in the system, my guards will be instructed to treat every surveillance camera malfunction as a full-scale emergency.

68. I will spare someone who saved my life sometime in the past. This is only reasonable as it encourages others to do so. However, the offer is good one time only. If they want me to spare them again, they'd better save my life again.

69. All midwives will be banned from the realm. All babies will be delivered at state-approved hospitals. Orphans will be placed in foster-homes, not abandoned in the woods to be raised by creatures of the wild.

70. When my guards split up to search for intruders, they will always travel in groups of at least two. They will be trained so that if one of them disappears mysteriously while on patrol, the other will immediately initiate an alert and call for backup, instead of quizzically peering around a corner.

71. If I decide to test a lieutenant's loyalty and see if he/she should be made a trusted lieutenant, I will have a crack squad of marksmen standing by in case the answer is no.

72. If all the heroes are standing together around a strange device and begin to taunt me, I will pull out a conventional weapon instead of using my unstoppable superweapon on them.

73. I will not agree to let the heroes go free if they win a rigged contest, even though my
advisors assure me it is impossible for them to win.

74. When I create a multimedia presentation of my plan designed so that my five-year-old advisor can easily understand the details, I will not label the disk "Project Overlord" and leave it lying on top of my desk.

75. I will instruct my Legions of Terror to attack the hero en masse, instead of standing around waiting while members break off and attack one or two at a time.

76. If the hero runs up to my roof, I will not run up after him and struggle with him in an attempt to push him over the edge. I will also not engage him at the edge of a cliff. (In the
middle of a rope-bridge over a river of molten lava is not even worth considering.)

77. If I have a fit of temporary insanity and decide to give the hero the chance to reject a job as my trusted lieutentant, I will retain enough sanity to wait until my current trusted lieutenant is out of earshot before making the offer.

78. I will not tell my Legions of Terror "And he must be taken alive!" The command will be "And try to take him alive if it is reasonably practical."

79. If my doomsday device happens to come with a reverse switch, as soon as it has been employed it will be melted down and made into limited-edition commemorative coins.

80. If my weakest troops fail to eliminate a hero, I will send out my best troops instead of wasting time with progressively stronger ones as he gets closer and closer to my fortress.

81. If I am fighting with the hero atop a moving platform, have disarmed him, and am about to finish him off and he glances behind me and drops flat, I too will drop flat instead of quizzically turning around to find out what he saw.

82. I will not shoot at any of my enemies if they are standing in front of the crucial support beam to a heavy, dangerous, unbalanced structure.

83. If I'm eating dinner with the hero, put poison in his goblet, then have to leave the table for any reason, I will order new drinks for both of us instead of trying to decide whether or not to switch with him.

84. I will not have captives of one sex guarded by members of the opposite sex.

85. I will not use any plan in which the final step is horribly complicated, e.g. "Align the 12 Stones of Power on the sacred altar then activate the medallion at the moment of total eclipse." Instead it will be more along the lines of "Push the button."

86. I will make sure that my doomsday device is up to code and properly grounded.

87. My vats of hazardous chemicals will be covered when not in use. Also, I will not construct walkways above them.

88. If a group of henchmen fail miserably at a task, I will not berate them for incompetence then send the same group out to try the task again.

89. After I capture the hero's superweapon, I will not immediately disband my legions and relax my guard because I believe whoever holds the weapon is unstoppable. After all, the hero held the weapon and I took it from him.

90. I will not design my Main Control Room so that every workstation is facing away from the door.

91. I will not ignore the messenger that stumbles in exhausted and obviously agitated until my personal grooming or current entertainment is finished. It might actually be important.

92. If I ever talk to the hero on the phone, I will not taunt him. Instead I will say this his dogged perseverance has given me new insight on the futility of my evil ways and that if he leaves me alone for a few months of quiet contemplation I will likely return to the path of righteousness. (Heroes are incredibly gullible in this regard.)

93. If I decide to hold a double execution of the hero and an underling who failed or betrayed me, I will see to it that the hero is scheduled to go first.

94. When arresting prisoners, my guards will not allow them to stop and grab a useless trinket of purely sentimental value.

95. My dungeon will have its own qualified medical staff complete with bodyguards. That way if a prisoner becomes sick and his cellmate tells the guard it's an emergency, the guard will fetch a trauma team instead of opening up the cell for a look.

96. My door mechanisms will be designed so that blasting the control panel on the outside seals the door and blasting the control panel on the inside opens the door, not vice versa.

97. My dungeon cells will not be furnished with objects that contain reflective surfaces or anything that can be unravelled.

98. If an attractive young couple enters my realm, I will carefully monitor their activities. If I find they are happy and affectionate, I will ignore them. However if circumstance have forced them together against their will and they spend all their time bickering and criticizing each other except during the intermittent occasions when they are saving each others' lives at which point there are hints of sexual tension, I will immediately order their execution.

99. Any data file of crucial importance will be padded to 1.45Mb in size.

100. Finally, to keep my subjects permanently locked in a mindless trance, I will provide each of them with free unlimited Internet access.

This Evil Overlord List is Copyright 1996-1997 by Peter Anspach. If you enjoy it, feel free to pass it along or post it anywhere, provided that (1) it is not altered in any way, and (2) this copyright notice is attached.