Mollycoddling has gone too far.

After two years in which the military sought to manage terrorism suspects at Guantánamo with incentives for good behavior, steady improvements in their living conditions and even dialogue with prison leaders, the authorities here have clamped down decisively in recent months.

Security procedures have been tightened. Group activities have been scaled back. With the retrofitting of Camp 6 and the near-emptying of another showcase camp for compliant prisoners, military officials said about three-fourths of the detainees would eventually be held in maximum-security cells. That is a stark departure from earlier plans to hold a similar number in medium-security units.


I feel so betrayed.

Unfortunately, my favorite horrid Christmas album,

Steve and Edie’s Christmas in Las Vegas,

is a myth, a threat I thought up to try to clear out a party that was going on too long...

writes olvlzl at Echnide of the Snakes. And all this time I thought...

Oh well. That reminds me. I need to get my iPod re-synced before too long so I can listen to my own Christmas music collection:
  • "This Time of Year," by the inestimable Sophie Milman
  • The entire album, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," by the Vince Guaraldi Trio
  • And five - count 'em, five - renditions of "The Christmas Song" (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...) by Barbara Streisand, Lou Rawls, Nat "King" Cole and Natalie Cole, Mel Tormé, and Ella Fitzgerald, respectively.

If you know something better try to forget it. Or you might be next.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bush administration is clamping down on scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey, who study everything from caribou mating to global warming, subjecting them to controls on research that might go against official policy.


The gift may be especially appropriate for bosses and in-laws, Bobby C. said.

The gift? Reindeer poop. OK, OK, it's only chocolate covered peanuts, really, packaged with a label that says...
"You've been naughty so here's the scoop, all you get is reindeer poop."

So at least that's something. And it's for a good cause - the newspaper's "Warm the Children" charity.
"We have these special gloves that we wear and we scoop out 4 ounces of the reindeer poop in each bag," quipped Robert "Bobby C." Campbell [a local DJ].

I don't know, Bobby. In-laws? Ya think?

So whaddya want, a warranty?

A conference! Oh that's a good idea.

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq's army has "opened its doors" to all former members of Saddam Hussein's army, the prime minister said Saturday, as the Shiite-dominated government reached out to Sunni Arabs for help in curbing the rampant violence in the country....

His comments came as the Iraqi government convened a national reconciliation conference aimed at rallying ethnic, religious and political groups around a common strategy for handling Iraq's problems.

Or why not try a study group? How about an Insurgency Study Group - that'd fix things right up.

Good morning, Seattle.

Update: The Seattle bureau reports large sections of Seattle and suburbs dark since Thursday night with scattered exceptions - some gas stations still operating, some Starbucks stores still open, so at least the essentials of life are still available. But lines at Starbucks run to 100 long as people wake up to the horrible reality they can't make coffee at home. Bummer. Need fix. Hand-cranked cell phones. No YouTube. Primative primitive [see rule 4 - Ed]. Seattle PI misses first day in 70 years - Saturday edition available free online here (web version here). Guessing power may be back by Tuesday [unless FEMA gets involved - Ed.].

But see, the nice thing about being a guy like James Dobson is wondering is something you don't have to do.

"James Dobson should start to wonder," the activist stated in a release, "if there is something inherently wrong with his stance on gay issues if the only way he can support his positions is outright lying."


The Miss Universe Organisation said yesterday that it was evaluating Miss Conner’s “behavioural and personal issues” after media reports that she had been drinking her way around a string of trendy New York bars and bedhopping her way across the city.

Not that there's anything new about that. But there are "moral rules," says spokesbimbo Lark-Marie Anton, which I only mention because Lark-Marie is such an excellent spokesbimbo name. Otherwise, come to think of it, there wouldn't be much reason for mentioning any of this, would there?

(Photo: 1001 Nacht; Verlag Wilhelm Borngräber; Berlin 1913; S.143; Wikimedia Commons.)


Anyway it's not a real gun.

Clown show: A quote from Russian clown Slava Polunin in an article about his touring program "Slava's Snowshow" in Sunday's Calendar said: "So, yes, we start the show with a suicide attempt, because the man feels that there is no escape. But he sees that life is about that first impression he had." The second sentence should have read: "But he sees that life is so interesting, he just forgets about that first impression he had."

(Correction from the Los Angles Times.)

And with so much joy.

What an amazing bloody catastrophe. The Bush administration's policy towards the Middle East over the five years since 9/11 is culminating in a multiple train crash. Never in the field of human conflict was so little achieved by so great a country at such vast expense.

(Timothy Garton Ash in the Guardian Unlimited, quoted by Spiiderweb™)

I guess you just have to take what you can get from George Will.

While mumbling something about the "metrics of success" and claiming not to comprehend what "universal health care" might mean, the owlish one nonetheless manages this bit of fatherly wingnut advice for Obama:
...if you get the girl up on her tiptoes, you should kiss her.

So maybe Dubya's right after all.

George Washington got spooked by bioterrorism, and look how famous it made him.

From the National Archives:
Before closing a lengthy letter to Congress reporting on a variety of topics, Washington passed along information that he had heard from a sailor: that British Gen. William Howe was sending people out from Boston who had been deliberately infected with smallpox so that they might pass on the disease to the Americans surrounding the city. After seeing an increased number of cases in people coming out of Boston, Washington came to believe that smallpox was indeed “a weapon of Defence they Are useing against us.”

Make no small mistakes.

A story Nov. 13 about Gerald Ford becoming the longest-living U.S. president incorrectly reported that he was the only president who was never elected. John Tyler, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson and Chester Arthur also never won presidential elections.

(Correction in the San Francisco Chronicle at SFGate.)

Glad to have that cleared up.

Ooops, that might have been the wrong beast we starved.

Tracking visitors took on particular urgency after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when it became clear that some of the hijackers had remained in the country after their visas had expired.

But in recent days, officials at the Homeland Security Department have conceded that they lack the financing and technology to meet their deadline to have exit-monitoring systems at the 50 busiest land border crossings by next December. A vast majority of foreign visitors enter and exit by land from Mexico and Canada, and the policy shift means that officials will remain unable to track the departures.


Maybe they ought to call themselves Keystonecrats.

OK so it's not "War of the Worlds" exactly but, hey, I hear Tom Cruise needs a job.

Belgians were thrown into a panic when a spoof TV news report said their country had been 'abolished'.


Finally, some good news from the DOOFUSbunker.

I must tell you, I'm sleeping a lot better than people would assume,” Dubya says in People magazine's end-of-year issue (reported by ABC News). So no need to worry about that, at least.

Turns out the DOOFUS gets an annual interview with People - sort of a holiday season thing I guess - but not necessarily an annual cover, it appears. This year he and the Laura were bumped by Angibrad or Bradgelina or whatever they call those two, you know the ones.

I hope that doesn't keep him up at night.


A woman in a pink dress, and other foggy observations.

It was foggy this morning, more or less seriously foggy and I was focussed on seeing what was on the road ahead of me, which was probably the reason she took me by surprise the way she did. As I was coming up over a shallow rise approaching a stop light, one of the only stop lights in town, the light turned red and I began coasting to a stop, relieved for a moment from having to worry about what was just in front of me. And that's when I noticed her, standing on the corner. A woman in a pink dress. On a sunny day it might have been a little startling, seeing her there like that: it was a chilly morning, 32 or 34 degrees, and the light dress would have seemed out of place. But in the fog, with the whole world muted pale, she looked like she belonged. She walked across the street and was gone. I hope she had a pleasant day.

This evening it was foggy again and I got lost trying to find an Inn in a little town nearby, where there was an office party in progress, and then, having found it, got lost again coming home. The nice thing about getting lost in Massachusetts is if you just keep driving in about 15 minutes you will be either back where you started or someplace else, and in either case you won't be lost any more. Where I live you can drive the entire width of the state, from north to south, in about an hour on the Interstate. So no matter how lost you get you're almost home. Getting lost like that in central Illinois, you could drive the rest of the night and still be in the same field of corn.

Of course there was the time my sister took a wrong turn in Boston and would up in Rhode Island, but that's another story for another day.

That's pretty much where it started too, isn't it?

Rumsfeld career ending in ignominy in Iraq

In ignominy, I mean. In Iraq.

The headline is from a current Associated Press piece (found here on MSNBC) - but here, from a CBS News story published September 4, 2002, is where it began:
(CBS) CBS News has learned that barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq — even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.

So what's this ends in ignominy in Iraq? In ignominy in Iraq is where it began.

Let's face it, nobody listens. Not even Doug.

An article on the Itineraries page of Business Day on Tuesday about hotels that offer merchandise for sale rendered incorrectly the inscription in an artwork by Doug Hilson that intrigued Douglas Reeves, chairman of the Center for Performance Assessment, enough to negotiate to buy it. The inscription reads: “Doug loved his own lectures” — not “Doug likes to listen to his own lectures.”

(A correction from the NYTimes.)

Because if we don't have good names the terrorists win.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Despite criticism for adjourning last week without acting on several major legislative initiatives, members of Congress can boast significant achievements in at least one area of federal lawmaking -- naming post offices.

It's only money, Ma - throw the canary another seed.

• NEW: Report says Pres. Bush wants $100 billion more for Iraq, Afghanistan
• Congress already had appropriated about $379 billion for the war in Iraq
• Congress approved $70 billion for wars in the current fiscal year
• Report accuses Republicans of causing long-term damage with overspending


EPA wonders: Why keep regs that worked?

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration is considering doing away with health standards that cut lead from gasoline, widely regarded as one of the nation's biggest clean-air accomplishments.

The Environmental Protection Agency said this week that revoking those standards might be justified "given the significantly changed circumstances since lead was listed in 1976" as an air pollutant, claiming that concentrations of lead in the air have dropped more than 90 percent in the past 2 1/2 decades.

Oh. Forgot to mention...
Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits.

Right again.


Ain't perfect but it's better, so far.

I finally got my iMac back from the local so-called repair guys, who set a new record by installing a new hard drive in two and a half weeks flat. But hey, who's bitching? I figure sooner or later - later, by the look of things - my backup software will finish restoring all my files, and then two or three evenings of restoring software will be all that's left to do. Yeah, I know I could back up the software too but I like to do fresh installs of software when I set up a new drive. Kind of forces me to review stuff, get rid of junk. Of which there isn't all that much, because I keep things pretty clean as a rule. Meanwhile, it's nice to get back on a bigger screen. So that's something, right there.

But he's still dead.

Because of an editing error, an obituary on Sunday about Sid Raymond, a comic actor, rendered one of his jokes incorrectly. It was about a son who sends a prostitute to his widowed father, still a self-proclaimed ladies’ man in his 90s. The prostitute tells the father that she is his birthday present and promises to give him “super sex” (not that she promises to give him whatever he’d like.) The father replies, “I’ll take the soup.”

From the December 13 New York Times Corrections page, which is devoted to clearing things sorta up. More or less.

Dutch MP would embrace outsourcing.

A top female politician ín Holland wants Dutch prostitutes sent abroad with the troops to help them relax.

Annemarie Jorritsma, a politician for the centre-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD) and the mayor of the town of Almere, went on national Dutch TV to demand the 'extra benefits' for soldiers.

Or maybe outsource embracing.

Whatever. If that's what they call "centre-right" in Holland...

(From Ananova.)

Microsoft makes it easier.

Moving with the stealth and style of a startup, mighty Microsoft Corp. today will release a point-and-click software tool designed to make it easier to program simple robots....

"This looks so much like the PC industry in the late 1970s," said Tandy Trower, the 25-year Microsoft veteran who got Chairman Bill Gates and other top execs to back the gambit. "You have all this passion and excitement and the nagging questions: What are these things good for?"

I don't know. Could a droid hack Vista?

Buckeyes rescued from "confusing patchwork."

COLUMBUS [OH] - The Republican-controlled Senate narrowly overrode Gov. Bob Taft's veto of a concealed-carry weapons bill Tuesday.

The override, the first of any governor in 29 years, means that more than 80 local gun ordinances, including Cincinnati's assault weapons ban, will be abolished in 90 days....

Groups supporting gun owners say the state legislation overturns a confusing patchwork of local bans and restrictions.

But in Cincinnati, where homicides stand at a near-record 79 this year, Mayor Mark Mallory says, "This doesn't help."

Guys who impersonate teen girls in chat rooms are "effective unofficial law enforcement" group.

And one of the most effective "unofficial law enforcement goups" in the country, says Allen Salkin in this morning's NYTimes. Although the laws themselves are presumably official; it's just the enforcement groups that aren't. Official, that is.

The comparison might not be fair, since it's undoubtedly more difficult to do unofficial border patrol under the hot Arizona sun than sit around all day unofficially typing what r u wearing? like the (we're quoting his mommy here) obsessive, "reclusive founder" of "Perverted Justice."

“Every waking minute he’s on that computer,” mommy says. Officially.

“I have a low opinion of men in general,” the reclusive founder explains.

Uh huh. Whatever. Some lawyers call it entrapment but "Dateline NBC" calls it ratings - the "television newsmagazine" has "broadcast 11 highly rated programs in which would-be pedophiles are lured to 'sting houses,' only to be surprised by a camera crew and, usually, the police," Salkin writes. No mention of whether the police in question are real or "would-be" themselves.

One thing's for sure. I really don't miss TV.

They can't even run a souvenir stand?

A report released today by Democratic staffers in Congress found that official Capitol Hill gift shops were selling items containing dangerous levels of lead, according to news stories in Roll Call and The Hill.

Lead in the trinkets? Well. At least they didn't have a salad bar.

Nyeh, nyeh, says Tony Snowjob, they don't like Congress even more.

Performing yesterday at the DOOFUSbunker "press conference," where his function is to "communicate" by not answering questions, Snowjob declared...
whatever the discontent may be with the President, the level of confidence in Congress is even lower...

so go ahead and try parsing that, "press."


Soy makes you gay!

Remember the good old days when eating the wrong kind of food just gave you cancer and heart attacks and diabetes? Well, they're gone for good. According to some guy named Jim Putz Rutz, writing in WorldNetDaily...
"Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products."

And don't ask about the socio-spiritual stuff because I don't even want to think about that. And anyway it would freak out the children.

Being manly means keeping that old testosterone pumping, Putz Rutz says.
"In fetal development, the default is being female. All humans (even in old age) tend toward femininity. The main thing that keeps men from diverging into the female pattern is testosterone, and testosterone is suppressed by an excess of estrogen."

Which - an excess of estrogen, that is - comes from eating all that wimpy tofu. Which of course does not apply to me because I hate the stuff.

In DOOFUSbunker, "carefully choreographed meetings"; Iraq Study Group flunks, "new way forward" on hold.

Dubya dances around with a bunch of retired generals who give him a "blunt and dismal assessment" of the dumb old study group's conclusions; nobody wanted them messing around with things anyway.

But the generals agree...
...the Army and Marine Corps both need to be bigger, and also need bigger budgets.
Go figure, huh?
Coming amid growing public discontent with the war and the defeat of his party in last month's congressional elections, the president's very public review of his Iraq policy is expected to culminate in a major address in which he will lay out what the administration has billed as a "new way forward" in the nearly four-year-old conflict.
Tony Snowjob says "the administration is hoping for the president to deliver the speech before Christmas, although he said the timing has not been nailed down." Good thing too, about the nails, because the poor, long suffering administration would have just had to pull them all back up again.
President George W. Bush is likely to delay the unveiling of a new strategy for Iraq until early 2007, instead of late this year as originally planned, a White House official said on Tuesday.

"This is not a sign of trouble," the official said. Unless you happen to be an Iraqi, one presumes.

It's just a little glitch in the choreography, is all.

Condi wants into the CYA game too.

But she added: "It's not just that I don't regret having participated in the liberation of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein -- but I'm very proud that this country finally helped to liberate 25 million Iraqis" from the dictator.

Hey, you figure it out.


Good idea! Bad plan!

Spotted by YAME's vast and famously alert Seattle Bureau:
OCTOBER 17--Wesley Snipes has been indicted on federal criminal charges for his role in a bizarre tax avoidance scheme that allegedly included him seeking $12 million in fraudulent refunds and failing to file six years of tax returns. In an eight-count indictment unsealed today, Snipes and two others are charged with knowingly attempting to defraud the government by claiming that his substantial income was somehow immune to taxation.

Immune. Right. The Smoking Gun has the, you know, smoking gun.

How long did you say that wall was again?

WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled their homeland are likely to seek refugee status in the United States, humanitarian groups said, putting intense pressure on the Bush administration to reexamine a policy that authorizes only 500 Iraqis to be resettled here next year.

Uniting the Middle East, cont.

Gulf Arab states have announced that they are considering a shared nuclear programme for peaceful purposes.

"Leaders commissioned a study by members of the Gulf Co-operation Council to set up a common programme in the area of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, according to international standards," read a GCC statement.

The statement read out on Sunday in Riyadh by Abdul Rahman al-Attiyah, the secretary-general of the political and economic alliance, did not elaborate on the plan by the GCC, which is comprised of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.


We can't actually show you this because, you know, think of the children and all that stuff.

And YAME's first Too Late award (too late) goes to...

Too Late

..."BooMan," proprietor of the Booman Tribune, who writes:
It is becoming increasingly clear to moderate, realist, reality-based Republicans of the sane variety that, if the President doesn't quickly do a 180 on Iraq, he and his Vice-President will have to be removed from office.

Some time in, oh, November of 2004 would have been an appropriate time to arrive at this kind of clarity but now, at the end of 2006, it's, well, way, way too late.

Faux News offers faux dream job.

Job Location New York, NY USA
Job Requirements Freelance Fact Writer

Michael Roston has the complete classified ad on his blog, "Looking for Someone to Lie to Me."


Staying on top of the entertaining entertainment news.

OK, I wish this were a bad joke, but it's real: Disney's new attempt at Oscar campaigning for Mel Gibson is to convince Academy members that he's "not as bad as Roman or Woody."

(LA Weekly)

Look, I'll do it for half price.

Reyes stumbled when I asked him a simple question about al Qaeda at the end of a 40-minute interview in his office last week. Members of the Intelligence Committee, mind you, are paid $165,200 a year to know more than basic facts about our foes in the Middle East.

Reyes is the incoming (D) chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

Oh, good.

Poor Bush, sighs Daily News...

...had a bad week.
For good measure, a new poll found only 27% of Americans back his Iraq policy, a new low. And a moderate GOP senator termed the policy "absurd" and possibly criminal [but not criminal as in "criminal"].


Yeah that sounds like something to look forward to all right.

"Windows is going to talk to you a lot more and make sure you're a lot more aware of what you're doing," said Adrien Robinson, a director in Windows' security technology unit. "It's going to help consumers be more savvy."

Business Week reports the world doesn't seem too terribly impressed.

Just cleaning out the photo file, is all.

Just can't take a joke, huh?

A US family is suing Greyhound after the contents of a bus toilet were dumped through their open car sunroof.

Which reminds me somehow of the day I was driving a little too close behind a horse trailer. Actually a lot too close, now that you mention it.

Oh oh, better hide the soda machine JIC.

Florida laws prohibit the display of material which is "harmful" to minors in open display, or within the reach of minors who may frequent the retail establishment.

Of course it's not sugarwater that's causing all the fuss in Florida these days, it's PORN. Yeah. Imagine that. Specifically, it's Christmas tree "pornaments"...
The nine ornaments -- spoofs portraying Mr. and Mrs. North Pole, reindeer and Frosty the Snowman in sexually risque positions -- are selling for nine dollars and are on display on public shelves.

You can guess the rest.

Maybe it's the red suit, ya think?

WESTMINSTER, Colo. - Santa must have a trick. A man who was locked out of his house in this Denver suburb tried to get in by sliding down the chimney early Friday, but he got stuck and had to be rescued, authorities said.