Friday, April 30, 2004

Sometimes my brother makes me laugh so hard I forget very simple things like how to properly swallow a drink of water. Then I cough and hack and alarm my co-workers. It's still worth it, though.

I went to get my lunch out of the fridge and there is a paper bag, next to my lunch with "Andrew" written on it in a happy, girly script. I checked it out...not only are there no other Andrews on this floor, there are no other Andrews in the entire company.

"Are you expecting an organ transplant?" asked Marcia, pretty funny for her.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

USA Today has a story (I read about it in Slate) saying that 75% of Iraqis think the occupation sucks, the U.S. should leave, etc.

I'm not particularly interested in the poll's results but I am fascinated that someone ("someone" was the Pan Arab Research Center of Dubai) polled. A sidebar explains the methodology:

Interviews were conducted between March 22 and April 2, with the exception of the governate of Sulaymaniya where interviews ran through April 9. All interviews were conducted in person in the respondent’s home, with an average interview length of 70 minutes. The cooperation rate — the percentage of those contacted who agreed to be interviewed — was 98%.

So are polls really this widespread? Were there teams going door to door in Rwanda asking "on a scale of one to five with one being "very little" and five being "extremely so" were you distressed when you learned that citizens were encouraged to hack up their neighbors with machettes?" Seventy-one percent of the residents of the former Yugoslavia reporting that Milosevic was leading the country "in the wrong direction"?

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Terry Gross, host of FRESH AIR is inexplicably beloved by listeners. She gets on my nerves.

Today she is interviewing Tina Fey about her upcoming movie MEAN GIRLS:

Terry: Most high school movies are from a boy's point of view with characters who leer at girls' breasts and so forth...what made you want to write a script from a girl's perspective?

Gosh, it's hard to imagine why...good question!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

At work I listen to the radio over the internet. In the mornings it's mostly the local NPR affiliate and in the afternoons I listen to the BBC World Service. Occasionally I branch out (I'm fond of a South African Hip Hop station even though their simulcast is in mono since the music is excellent and their Wacky DJs are fascinating) but this afternoon it's been World Service.

Anyway, there was a story about Momaar Gadaffi (oh, for those of you who are wondering why so many different spellings of his name-since it comes from not only another language but another alphabet, it's all phonetic renderings. I don't have my AP stylebook in front of me to determine whether it's Gadaffi, Khadaffi, etc.) who is visiting Brussels and the reporter mentioned that he was flanked by his customary female bodyguards.

His customary female bodyguards?

Indeed, like some missing character from KILL BILL, it seems that he does indeed have female bodyguards, customarily. You can see a picture of them here and here is a 2002 article about the Gadaffi entourage arriving in a South African port intending to drive back to Libya. From the article:

An Antonov cargo plane arrived first, carrying 60 armoured cars, $6m in cash and 27 submachine guns. Then a container ship sailed into harbour packed with goat carcasses and buses.

I'm amazed, amazed, amazed that there is a new Iraqi flag.

What is a flag, after all, but a symbol. So don't you think that they could have waited until AFTER the handoff in June to the new gov't (whatever the hell THAT turns out to be) before they go changing flags?

According to NPR, the flag predated Saddam Hussain so it really was the country's flag, not the regime's flag. So what sort of symbol does it send that there is a new flag and it's the one that the hated Provisional Government picked?

Symbolic element number two...most flags of Arabic nations are Black, Green and Red. The new Iraqi flag is mostly white with a pale blue crescent in the middle. Which makes it look like which flag??? Israel's flag. Not so satisfying to Iraqi citizens.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Wonkette alerted me to this from The Canadian News Wire which, in turn, excerpts from Macleans:

Asked to pick the word that best describes our neighbour to the south,
the No. 1 response was "arrogant," with "patriotic" (not necessarily a
compliment) close behind.

"Like the know-it-all neighbour who never misses a chance to bend your
ear over the back fence or critique your yard work, Canada has become the
block bore," says Jonathon Gatehouse, senior (Macleans) correspondent.

Hear that Canada? Nobody likes a jerky neighbor. Just because we are being arrogant and reckless doesn't mean you can be uncool.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Up and listening to the Sunday news shows and catching up on my newspaper reading (which is to say, articles from the NYT and WaPo that I email to myself).

There's an interesting piece in NYT by Frank Rich discussing the soap opera-like aspects of the Iraq war. Part of his point is that the proliferation of 24-hour news has created an increase in the demand for Victim's Families...ratings always do well when the families are on.

For those of you who aren't news nerds, I should point out that NIGHTLINE began during the Iranian Hostage crisis of 1979/1980 and at first the Carter administration was psyched at the news coverage, thinking it would show the president in a positive light as compared to his democratic primary challenger Ted Kennedy. But in fact, the show had lots of hostage families on who connected emotionally with the audience which they were free to do, since they were NOT politicians. Carter looked ineffectual and lost big time.

So maybe the better comparison for Iraq isn't Vietnam but rather Iran.

Friday, April 23, 2004

I am utterly fascinated by this story...
So you may recall that there were some Japanese citizens who were held hostage in Iraq, then released. Well apparently the Japanese public is totally pissed off at the (former) hostages. From the NYT:

"You got what you deserve!" read one hand-written sign at the airport where they landed. "You are Japan's shame," another wrote on the Web site of one of the former hostages. They had "caused trouble" for everybody. The government, not to be outdone, announced it would bill the former hostages $6,000 for air fare.

The former hostages' transgression was to ignore a government advisory against traveling to Iraq. But their sin, in a vertical society that likes to think of itself as classless, was to defy what people call here "okami," or, literally, "what is higher."

To the angry Japanese, the first three hostages — Nahoko Takato, 34, who started a nonprofit organization to help Iraqi street children; Soichiro Koriyama, 32, a freelance photographer; and Noriaki Imai, 18, a freelance writer interested in the issue of depleted uranium munitions — had acted selfishly. Two others kidnapped and released in a separate incident — Junpei Yasuda, 30, a freelance journalist, and Nobutaka Watanabe, 36, a member of an anti-war group — were equally guilty.

So there you have it...we told you it was dangerous there, you went anyway, and now you deserve whatever you get. Which is so, well, foreign to me. I heard an interview on the radio with a U.S. civilian who went to Iraq to work as a truck driver for one of the private contractors and he took the job because it paid $80K a year for unskilled labor. Now obviously it pays so much because of the hazards involved. Lots of jobs work that way...commercial fisherman can earn quite a bit of money but it's terribly dangerous and everyone knows it's dangerous. Still, if a ship capsizes off the coast of Alaska I don't think that we, as a society, would say "Well what did you expect?!? Swim or drown, we don't care but if we have to send a helicopter you better believe we are going to be PISSED"

Thursday, April 22, 2004

One of the dumbest phrases I've heard in a long time:

Editor Putrimas was angrier than a metrosexual out of hair gel

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

My brother does a great overview on his blog today discussing various baseball mascots. Well done. Weirdly, The Oakland A's mascot, Stomper (an elephant), has an online diary. No indication if Stomper is a fan of Dashboard Confessional.

So what's up with Bush posing with the dog all the time?

Sunday, April 11, 2004

This morning on MEET THE PRESS Tim Russert asked Paul Bremer a seemingly simple question about the June 30th handoff of power in Iraq; when we hand it off, who is taking it?

"That's a good question Tim," replied Bremer.

Yes, indeed it is. A question that might benefit from, you know, an answer. Since it's happening in less than 90 days.

Do you remember New Year's Eve this year? That was more than 90 days ago. So that's how much time we have to get Iraq sorted out.

"They say there might be civil war," notes my co-worker Randi, "well so what? We had a civil war!" Which is kind of weird, as though civil war is like encouraging a teenager to take a job flipping burgers; it's character building.

From this morning's Washington Post:

Bush canceled a fishing outing on his ranch Saturday with Roland Martin, host of the Outdoor Life Network program "Fishing With Roland Martin." Martin, who fished with Bush on Friday, told the Associated Press that Bush explained: "I've been busy, all these crises."

Steady leadership, that.

It's been a long time since I've been psyched about anything on Saturday Night Live but I thought that Janet Jackson, with a wig and phony gap in her teeth as Condoleeza Rice was fantastic. What an amazing, lucky piece of comic gold to drop into the show's lap. She gets to make a disarming boob joke, the administration looks evil, and, for a moment, all is good in my world.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Underblogged of late but I saw a story in SLATE yesterday that got me excited, ready to publish again.

The story is about marshmallow peeps and explores the origin of the inexplicably popular sticky chicks. From the lead paragraph:

...fanatics maintain Web sites featuring everything from Peep erotica, dubbed "Peep Smut," to an inventive online movie called "Lord of the Peeps,"

I thought that a little look at Peep erotica would be an excellent way to celebrate Good Friday.

Alas, google searches on "Marshmallow Peep" + Erotica and "Marshmallow Peep" + Smut give hits for...the SLATE story.

If you just search for PEEPS+EROTICA or PEEPS+SMUT then indeed there are heaps of hits. However I should point out two things to Rachel Deahl of SLATE :

1) There are establishments that provide booths with windows allowing patrons to view or "peep" erotic dancers.
2) Contemporary slang sometimes uses the word "peeps" to mean "my colleagues"

Sadly, I cannot link to any peep wanking fodder because it doesn't seem to, you know, exist.

I don't really see myself covering the courthouse or asking to be embedded with troops overseas when I work as a journalist. Rather, I assume that I will be covering the peep beat myself and it's aggravating to find such sloppy reporting.

Didn't bother looking for Lord of the Peeps.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

My friend Lisa, is annoyed about J-Lo's mother appearing on INSIDE THE ACTOR'S STUDIO:

Assuming they are going in descending order and all the big stars have already gone, and all the mediocre stars have already gone, and now they are on really bad actors, I still don't understand--did they skip my turn? I was in a couple of school plays.