Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wish I'd Said That

Aussie Woman Jailed Over Belief In 'God-Given Right To Drive'

There are a scarce few letters from Mark to the Corinthian Department of Transportation.

We need to introduce her to the woman praying for low gas prices... I think I just found my new Wednesday night coffee clutch!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Ten-year-old African Spurred Tortoise "Arava" (L) is seen at Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo

Arava, a disabled tortoise, right, crawls inside an enclosure with a custom skateboard attached to her shell that helps her move around,

Arava the disabled turtle is using her new set of wheels to get around in more ways than one. Officials at the zoo say the ten-year-old spurred tortoise has begun mating since being fitted with a custom skateboard to overcome paralysis of her hind legs.(AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)

Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na...

We've got Cubs tickets!!

...and you don't.

Something Wicked This Way Comes!

And, we're going to see Wicked!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Not that it could hurt...

But I feel more like "prey" at the pump...

The Rev. Beatrice Williams drove 110 miles to Hollywood on Wednesday to
beg the Lord for lower gasoline prices.

Hmmm....Do Corvettes get front-row parking at her church?

Chevron, the Goddess of Small Blue Sports Cars, says,
"Finally! I'm being beseeched for something worthy!"

Tomatos Vindicated!

Still safe?

FRESNO, Calif. - Federal inspectors at U.S. border crossings repeatedly turned back filthy, disease-ridden shipments of peppers from Mexico in the months before a salmonella outbreak that sickened 1,400 people was finally traced to Mexican chilies.

Yet no larger action was taken. Food and Drug Administration officials insisted as recently as last week that they were surprised by the outbreak because Mexican peppers had not been spotted as a problem before.

But an Associated Press analysis of FDA records found that peppers and chilies were consistently the top Mexican crop rejected by border inspectors for the last year.

Since January alone, 88 shipments of fresh and dried chilies were turned away. Ten percent were contaminated with salmonella. In the last year, 8 percent of the 158 intercepted shipments of fresh and dried chilies had salmonella.

On Friday, Dr. David Acheson, the FDA's food safety chief, told reporters peppers were not a cause for concern before they were implicated in the salmonella outbreak.

"We have not typically seen problems with peppers," Acheson said. "Our import sampling is typically focused on areas where we know we've got problems or we've seen problems in the past, which is why we're now increasing our sampling for peppers."

On Monday, the FDA said Acheson's comment was in relation to outbreaks or illness associated with Mexican peppers, not the rejection of pepper shipments at the borders. Calls to the FDA seeking elaboration were not immediately returned.

Still, food-safety advocates question why the agency did not pay more attention to the peppers being stopped at the border and why it took the nation's largest foodborne illness outbreak for the agency to ratchet up its screening of companies known for shipping dirty chilies.

"If the fact that they were showing up on problem lists for a year doesn't make them high-risk, I don't know what does," said Ami Gadhia, policy counsel with Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. "If it's across the board, then that's a systemic problem that FDA needs to be able to nimbly respond to."

Reminds me of that memo Condi got titled: "Bin Laden determined to strike inside the United States".

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hoax Days of Summer

From Yahoo Buzz:

A Chupa- what?
Early in the week, video footage emerged of a supposed Chupacabra, the mythological beast said to feast on the blood of farm animals and haunt parts of the U.S. and Latin America. Captured on tape by a Texas sheriff's deputy, the four-legged creature lopes ahead of the police vehicle, at one point turning its face to flash a long, bulbous snout.
Real? Who knows? Some investigators say the animal is possibly a coyote-fox mix; a biologist says it's a pit bull. Regardless, searches for "chupacabra texas" rose 13,424% over the past week, while the deputy's video clip ascended to the #1 spot in the week's top buzzing stories.

I must confess to being one of those searchers... any thing to avoid campaign coverage.

A Big- who?
Within days of the Chupacabra video, news broke that two men in northern Georgia had found the corpse of a Bigfoot—or so they claimed. Though the press conference to present the "evidence" wouldn't happen until the end of the week, the buzz around the revelation quickly reached a fevered pitch.

Pluh-eeze. I saw a picture of one of the guys, he looks real credible. More like PT Barnum, if you ask me. Nice to realize this is the only "Georgia" search term the average American is seeking information on...

In just one day, more than 100 distinct searches related to the hairy monster besieged the Search box. In Buzz, a CNET article on the fervor topped the week's most popular science stories. Regrettably, the Friday press event left many questions unanswered.

I guess I can finally admit to keeping the Loch Ness monster in my garage. I just hose her down now and then to keep her moist. Missing your cat? Might want to check my compost pile. Little collars with bells tend to come back up.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pet Stupid

As we've established, I pretty much live for coupons. (I won't get out of bed in the morning, much less enter your retail establishment for less than 30% off.) So a $5 off coupon for dog food at my favorite pet chain, Pet Smart, necessitated a trip to the strip mall.

As Al once pointed out, perhaps we should be shopping at a place called Pet Stupid, as our kids aren't so bright. We once saw this tiny Chihuahua taking toys from a floor-level display and putting them in his owner's carry basket when she wasn't looking. It was hysterical. Our dopey dog would have been peeing on the cat toy endcap or something, I'm sure.

Anyhoo... I went to the aisle with the humongous bags of dog food and made my selection. Score! Pro Plan had an extra-big bonus size bag of 36 pounds or something. Coupled with the extra $5 off, a good deal indeed. Now, obviously there are days when we really need dog food and I don't have a coupon. That's when I move from the premium section to the 'assorted horse parts' area. But today, Real Lamb!! Throw that treasure in the cart!

I don't know if it was the size of the bag, a little larger; the weight, a little heavier; or even lesser packaging thickness to save a few cents; but the end result was dog food all over the floor of the store. Yep. There I am on a Tuesday night with a jumbo bag of kibble quickly spilling through the mesh of the cart. It makes quite a sound, kind of a whhooooshh...ching, ching, ching... as the last few strays hit the metal.

Glancing around, I see a woman five aisles away giving me that phony sympathetic look. You know, the one that says, Oh, I'm so sorry for you ... and so glad it's not me...

From nowhere comes a manager assuring me this happens all the time and he'll take care of it. He immediately gets another cart and puts a bag in for me. I thank him profusely and slink towards the check out. Behind me, he's sucking up the pellets with a little shop-vac. I guess it really does happen all the time.

Thanks for the stellar service, Pet Smart. I'll be back--

As soon as you send another coupon.

I suggest one for canned food...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Still Not Buyin' It

Quick, they're heading into Old Navy - OMG!! He's planning an attack by sea!!

WASHINGTON - Army scientist Bruce Ivins had in his lab highly purified anthrax spores that were linked to the 2001 attacks that killed five and access to the distinctive envelopes used to mail them, the government declared Wednesday, releasing a stack of documents to support a damning though circumstantial case.

Who did he tick off? And are they reading this blog? They are now.

Ivins, a brilliant but deeply troubled man who committed suicide last week, was the anthrax killer whose mailings rattled the nation in the worst bioterror case in U.S. history, just a month after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, federal prosecutors asserted. They were backed by court documents that were a combination of hard DNA evidence, suspicious behavior and, sometimes, outright speculation.

Ivins' attorney said the government was "taking a weird guy and convicting him of mass murder" without real evidence. Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa called for a congressional investigation.

Good luck with that. But kudos.

Ivins had submitted false anthrax samples to the FBI to throw investigators off his trail and was unable to provide "an adequate explanation for his late laboratory work hours" around the time of the attacks, according to documents that officials made public to support their conclusions.

Can we get his intern to talk to a wired girlfriend about it?

Investigators also said he sought to frame unnamed co-workers and had immunized himself against anthrax and yellow fever in early September 2001, several weeks before the first anthrax-laced envelope was received in the mail.
Ivins killed himself last week as investigators closed in, and U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Taylor said at a Justice Department news conference, "We regret that we will not have the opportunity to present evidence to the jury."

Think a jury is even dumber than the media?

The scientist's attorney, Paul F. Kemp, heatedly dismissed that comment.
"They didn't talk about one thing that they got as result of all those searches," he said. "I just don't think he did it, and I don't think the evidence exists."
Taylor conceded the evidence was largely if not wholly circumstantial but insisted it would have been enough to convict.

After they sat the jury of their choice, of course...

The prosecutor's news conference capped a fast-paced series of events in which the government partially lifted its veil of secrecy in the investigation of the poisonings that followed closely after the airliner terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The newly released records depict Ivins as deeply troubled, increasingly so as he confronted the possibility of being charged.
"He said he was not going to face the death penalty, but instead had a plan to kill co-workers and other individuals who had wronged him," according to one affidavit. In e-mails to colleagues, Ivins described a feeling of dual personalities, the material said.
Officials disclosed Wednesday they had restricted his access to the biological agents last September.
Ivins had sole custody of highly purified anthrax spores with "certain genetic mutations identical" to the poison used in the attacks, according to an affidavit among a stack of documents the government released, all seemingly pointing to his guilt. Investigators also said they had traced back to his lab the type of envelopes used to send the deadly powder through the mails.
The FBI's investigation had dragged on for years, tarnishing the reputation of the agency in the process. Investigators had long focused on Steven J. Hatfill, whose career as a bioscientist was ruined after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft named him a "person of interest" in 2002. The government recently paid $6 million to settle a lawsuit by Hatfill, who worked in the same lab as Ivins.

So they could ruin two lives for the price of one, they went to the next guy on the lab directory?

Taylor said Wednesday that investigators concluded in 2005 that Hatfill couldn't have had access to a crucial flask of anthrax spores.
Authorities say that language Ivins used in an e-mail days before a second round of anthrax attacks was similar to the messages in anthrax-laced letters received soon after by Democratic Sens. Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.
In the e-mail, Ivins wrote that "Bin Laden terrorists for sure have anthrax and sarin gas" and have "just decreed death to all Jews and all Americans." The letters to Daschle and Leahy said: "WE HAVE THIS ANTHRAX . . . DEATH TO AMERICA . . . DEATH TO ISRAEL."

Wow! Such specialized terminology as 'Death' isn't used everyday by the layperson. Must have been a scientist.

Wednesday's documents were released as FBI Director Robert Mueller met privately with families of the victims of the attacks to lay out the evidence officials said the agency was preparing to close the case.

Always, always, always, get the victim's family on your side. Very powerful.

Patrick O'Donnell, a postal sorter who was sickened after handling one of the contaminated letters, said after attending Tuesday's briefing that he believes Ivins is the man who poisoned him. At the same time, the government didn't provide all the answers.
"I don't know what to think, man," O'Donnell said. "It's closing a lot of things, but it's also opening up a lot of doors."
As for motive, investigators seemed to offer two possible reasons for the attacks: that the brilliant scientist wanted to bolster support for a vaccine he helped create and that the anti-abortion Catholic targeted two pro-choice Catholic lawmakers.
"We are confident that Dr. Ivins was the only person responsible for these attacks," Taylor told a news conference at the Justice Department.
Noting that Ivins would have been entitled to a presumption of innocence, Taylor nevertheless said prosecutors were confident "we could prove his guilt to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt."
The events in Washington unfolded as a memorial service was held for Ivins at Fort Detrick, the secret government installation in Frederick, Md., where he worked. Reporters were barred.
More than 200 pages of documents were made public by the FBI, virtually all of them describing the government's attempts to link Ivins to the crimes.
That's not enough, said Grassley, the Iowa senator. He said there should be hearings rather than "the selective release of a few documents."
"This has been one of the largest domestic terrorism investigations in the FBI's 100-year history, and the investigative team made mistakes, missteps and false accusations," he said.

Pete Yost writes: Before killing himself last week, Army scientist Bruce Ivins told friends that government agents had stalked him and his family for months, offered his son $2.5 million to rat him out and tried to turn his hospitalized daughter against him with photographs of dead anthrax victims.
The pressure on Ivins was extreme, a high-risk strategy that has failed the FBI before. The government was determined to find the villain in the 2001 anthrax attacks; it was too many years without a solution to the case that shocked and terrified a post-9/11 nation.
The last thing the FBI needed was another embarrassment. Overreaching damaged the FBI's reputation in the high-profile investigations: the Centennial Olympic Park bombing probe that falsely accused Richard Jewell; the theft of nuclear secrets and botched prosecution of scientist Wen Ho Lee; and, in this same anthrax probe, the smearing of an innocent man — Ivins' colleague Steven Hatfill.
In the current case, Ivins complained privately that FBI agents had offered his son, Andy, $2.5 million, plus "the sports car of his choice" late last year if he would turn over evidence implicating his father in the anthrax attacks, according to a former U.S. scientist who described himself as a friend of Ivins.

Imagine my poor parents' shame: the focus of an FBI investigation and having it made public that their daughter is suing the agency for 'breech of contract' due to non-delivery of a Ferrari...

Ivins also said the FBI confronted Ivins' daughter, Amanda, with photographs of victims of the anthrax attacks and told her, "This is what your father did," according to the scientist, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because their conversation was confidential.
The scientist said Ivins was angered by the FBI's alleged actions, which he said included following Ivins' family on shopping trips.

They'd need two shift changes to follow me shopping...

The FBI declined to describe its investigative techniques of Ivins.
FBI official John Miller said that "what we have seen over the past few days has been a mix of improper disclosures of partial information mixed with inaccurate information and then drawn into unfounded conclusions. None of that serves the victims, their families or the public."
The FBI "always moves aggressively to get to the bottom of the facts, but that does not include mistreatment of anybody and I don't know of any case where that's happened," said former FBI deputy director Weldon Kennedy, who was with the bureau for 34 years. "That doesn't mean that from time to time people don't make mistakes," he added.

Need I comment here? I thought not.

Dr. W. Russell Byrne, a friend and former supervisor of Ivins at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., said he had heard from other Ivins associates that investigators were going after Ivins' daughter. But Byrne said those conversations were always short because people were afraid to talk.
"The FBI had asked everybody to sign these nondisclosure things," Byrne said. "They didn't want to run afoul of the FBI."

Or the ghost of J. Edgar...

Byrne, who retired from the lab four years ago, said FBI agents interviewed him seven to 12 times since the investigation began — and he got off easy.
"I think I'm the only person at USAMRIID who didn't get polygraphed," he said.
Byrne said he was told by people who had recently worked with Ivins that the investigation had taken an emotional toll on the researcher. "One person said he'd sit at his desk and weep," he said.

Ya happy, ya big bully?

Questions about the FBI's conduct come as the government takes steps that could signal an end to its investigation. On Wednesday, FBI officials plan to begin briefing family members of victims in the 2001 attacks.
The government is expected to declare the case solved but will keep it open for now, according to two U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. Several legal and investigatory matters need to be wrapped up before the case can officially be closed, they said.
Some questions may be answered when documents related to the case are released, as soon as Wednesday. For others, the answers may be incomplete, even bizarre. Some may simply never be answered.
It is unclear how the FBI eliminated as suspects others in the lab who had access to the anthrax.

Easy. Political affiliation.

It's not clear what, if any, evidence bolsters the theory that the attacks may have been a twisted effort to test a cure for the toxin. Investigators also can't place Ivins in Princeton, N.J., when the letters were mailed from a mailbox there.

Bummer dude. Oh, wait! He's dead. Nevermind.

Richard Schuler, attorney for anthrax victim Robert Stevens' widow, Maureen Stevens, said his client will attend Wednesday's FBI briefing with a list of questions.
"No. 1 is, 'Did Bruce Ivins mail the anthrax that killed Robert Stevens?'" Schuler said, adding, "I've got healthy skepticism."
Critics of the bureau in and out of government say that in major cases, like the anthrax investigation, it can be difficult for the bureau to stop once it embarks on a single-minded pursuit of a suspect, with any internal dissenters shut out as disloyal subordinates.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

Before the FBI focused on Ivins, its sights were set on Hatfill, whose career as a bioscientist was ruined after then-Attorney General John Ashcroft named him a "person of interest" in the probe.
Hatfill sued the agency, which recently agreed to pay Hatfill nearly $6 million to settle the lawsuit.
Complaints that the FBI behaved too aggressively conflict with its straight-laced, crime-fighting image of starched agents hunting terrorists.
During its focus on Hatfill, the FBI conducted what became known as "bumper lock surveillance," in which investigators trailed Hatfill so closely that he accused agents of running over his foot with their surveillance vehicle.
FBI agents showed up once to videotape Hatfill in a hotel hallway in Tyson's Corner, Va., when Hatfill was meeting with a prospective employer, according to FBI depositions filed in Hatfill's lawsuit against the government. He didn't get the job.
One of the FBI agents who helped run the anthrax investigation, Robert Roth, said FBI Director Robert Mueller had expressed frustration with the pace of the investigation. He also acknowledged that, under FBI guidelines, targets of surveillance aren't supposed to know they're being followed.

Doin' a great job, Brownie!

"Generally, it's supposed to be covert," Roth told lawyers in Hatfill's lawsuit.
In the 1996 Atlanta Olympic park bombing that dragged Jewell into the limelight, the security guard became the focus of the FBI probe for three months, after initially being hailed as a hero for moving people away from the bomb before it exploded.
The bomber turned out to be anti-government extremist Eric Rudolph, who also planted three other bombs in the Atlanta area and in Birmingham, Ala. Those explosives killed a police officer, maimed a nurse and injured several other people.
In another case, the FBI used as evidence the secrets that a person tells a therapist.
In the Wen Ho Lee case, Lee became the focus of a federal probe into how China may have obtained classified nuclear warhead blueprints. Prosecutors eventually charged him only with mishandling nuclear data, and held him for nine months. In what amounted to a collapse of the government's case, prosecutors agreed to a plea bargain in which Lee pleaded guilty to one of 59 counts.
In 2004, the FBI wrongly arrested lawyer Brandon Mayfield after the Madrid terrorist bombings, due to a misidentified fingerprint. The Justice Department's internal watchdog faulted the bureau for sloppy work. Spanish authorities had doubted the validity of the fingerprint match, but the U.S. government initiated a lengthy investigation, eventually settling with Mayfield for $2 million.

It's Not Kosher...

...To interrupt my pepperoni supply chain!!

DES MOINES, IOWA -- Iowa labor officials said Tuesday that they had uncovered dozens of child labor violations at the nation's biggest supplier of kosher meat.

Unprecedented? Baloney!

It's Not Nice to Fool (With) Mother Nature

Oh, this is such a baaaaaad idea....

Now, eager to ensure rain comes before -- not during -- the Olympics, the Beijing Weather Modification Office plans to seed the clouds that float by beforehand, hoping to wash the pollution from the air and wring out any event-delaying precipitation.

I can't wait until it rains lead... in Indiana.

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Gitanamo

So the other day Kane Citizen takes me to task when he sees me dropping a Macy’s bill into the corner mailbox – as well he should, since I had sworn to never shop Macy’s since their hostile takeover of Chicago icon Marshall Field’s.

It just goes to show my integrity is for sale – for about 40% off. It’s a slippery slope. One second you’re vowing to never patronize a particular establishment, the next you’re Vice President of the United States:

Commanding Officer: Private! I want you to grab the prisoner in cell three and torture him until he reveals the enemy’s secret plans!

Me: Absolutely not. That would violate the Geneva Convention.

Commanding Officer: Liberty is at stake! The enemy hates our freedoms!!

Me: All the more reason to respect the prisoner’s human rights.

Commanding Officer: You get right in there, private, or you’re looking at a court marshal!

Me: A person under torture will only say whatever stops the pain…

Commanding Officer: You think you’re so tough private? You think I can’t break you? Do you see what I’m holding, soldier? It’s a coupon. A FIFTY PERCENT OFF COUPON…

Me: (Lip quivering) N-n-n-o! It’s wr-wrong.

Commanding Officer: For the Designer Shoe Warehouse…

Me: (blubbering) I can’t!

Commanding Officer: Did I mention it can be used in conjunction with this week’s Buy One, Get One Free promotion?

Prisoner: Ow!

But they go with my uniform!

Espresso Yourself Online

Might I suggest Decaf? No way!! This is what blogging is all about!!

Guy walks into a coffee shop, and...

the next thing you know, he's in the Washington Post!!

To be fair, here's the other side of the debate.

I'll take mine steamed and extra-bitter...

I Believe!

Look at those roaming charges incurred when you called me from on board the mother ship..."

From the Did Robert Novak Have a Cell Phone? file:

(AP) -- The head of a prominent cancer research institute issued an unprecedented warning to his faculty and staff Wednesday: Limit cell phone use because of the possible risk of cancer.
The warning from Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, is contrary to numerous studies* that don't find a link between cancer and cell phone use**, and a public lack of worry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration***.

Herberman is basing his alarm on early unpublished data****. He says it takes too long to get answers from science and he believes people should take action now - especially when it comes to children.

*Sponsored by the Cell Phone Alliance of America
**Ever wonder what happened to those scientists who said studies linking cancer and smoking were inconclusive and flawed? Well, now you know. They got new jobs. Good for them.
***Who are also not worrying about lead in toys or Mad Cow disease, because, hey, it's an election year.
****That will mysteriously never come to light after his untimely suicide by jumping off a cell phone tower. Hmmmm....

That 70s Show Rerun

Speed does not kill!!!! But bending statistics should be punishable by death!

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the United States tends to break the law when it comes to speeding. And, the higher the speed limit, the more we break it.

Ok, any survey by the Insurance Institute is biased, agreed? And I'd like to see some real facts on how Americans rate against other countries when it comes to enforcing and obeying speed limits. I dare say we might look pretty good then.

After studying several metropolitan and rural areas, they found that when speed limits were posted at 65 mph, 19 percent of passenger vehicles sped by more than 5 mph. When the limits were posted at 70 mph, 35 percent broke the limit by the same amount or more.

Let's see... you can only set a 70 m.p.h. limit in the most hospitable terrain - isolated, flat, good sight lines, little severe weather - so going faster might be a function of the perceived safety to do so and decreased chances of enforcement. Does that mean people don't speed when limits are lower? Of course not. But perhaps people are bright enough to slow down where it is warranted. I'm so sick of limits dropping lower and lower. 25 is ridiculous! Even in front of a school!!! Keep traffic flowing. Use crossing guards and lights. But to slow to 45 m.p.h. on a country road just because some knee-jerk moms don't want you driving past their house? Why did you buy a house on a highway lady? Teach your kids to stay out of the road and I'll teach my car to stay out of your sandbox.

Why worry about it? The Institute has shown that faster speeds increase the frequency and severity of crashes and help push up crash rates. Speeding contributed to about 32 percent of U.S. crash deaths in 2006, resulting in more than 13,500 fatalities.

Severity? Yes. Simple physics. Frequency? I'm not convinced. Contributed is the key factor here. Note it is not caused, just contributed. So if there were any other factors, such as impaired driver, inexperienced driver, weather, etc. any ESTIMATED (how many fatal crashes are clocked on radar moments before impact?) miles over (even one) is suddenly blaming speed as a contributing factor.

And don't get me started on lowering speed limits because it saves gas!!! How about providing me a high-speed monorail route to my job if you want to save so much gas!!

Makes Sense

I mean, Lord knows Dubya spent more time in the Kiss Army than the U.S. Army, so why shouldn't Condi be a fan?

STOCKHOLM, Sweden — The Kiss Army fan club has an enthusiastic new recruit: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"I was thrilled," Rice said of her late-night encounter with Kiss frontman Gene Simmons and bandmates Paul Stanley, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer in the executive lounge of the Sheraton Hotel where they signed autographs and handed out backstage passes and T-shirts to her staff.

"It was really fun to meet Kiss and Gene Simmons," she told reporters, noting that they seemed well-informed about current events. The band had asked if she could stop by after she finished dinner with the Swedish foreign minister and Rice readily agreed, she said.

Rice, a classically trained pianist, said she has eclectic musical tastes ranging from Beethoven to Bruce Springsteen.

Hard rockers such as Kiss are included in the mix, and Rice said her favorite Kiss tune is "Rock and Roll All Nite."

But, Rice conceded, she has never seen the band in concert.

Rated M for MADD

Think Robert Novack had a bootleg copy of Grand Theft Auto IV?

DRIVEN INSANE: Now that the year's biggest video game has arrived, it may be time to add a new feature to this column: Who's Mad at "Grand Theft Auto IV" This Week? For starters, we've heard protests from feminists, immigrant groups, New York City police and New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Then there's the industry's most predictable critic, Florida attorney Jack Thompson, who called "GTA IV" ''the gravest assault upon children in this country since polio."

Amid the hubbub, there was one voice that's new to this debate. Mothers Against Drunk Driving protested a scenario in which you can get the main character intoxicated, then have him drive a car. "Drunk driving is not a game, and it is not a joke," MADD said in a statement. The group asked the Entertainment Software Rating Board to reclassify "GTA IV" as Adults-Only, a step up from its current Mature rating.

MADD's protest ignores one thing about the drunk-driving simulator: It's really difficult — and not much fun — to control your virtual car when your character is intoxicated. And much of the sober driving in "GTA IV' would be illegal and dangerous in real life.

"GTA IV" publisher Rockstar Games responded, "We have a great deal of respect for MADD's mission, but we believe the mature audience for 'Grand Theft Auto IV' is more than sophisticated enough to understand the game's content." Expect to see any number of variations on this statement from Rockstar in the months ahead.

While We're On the Topic...

of reptiles and prosthetics...

(Newser) – Three endangered iguanas were brought into the US illegally in a special compartment inside a man's removable prosthetic leg. The Fiji Island Banded Iguana were stolen by Californian Jereme James from a nature preserve in Fiji in 2002. US Fish and Wildlife service began an investigation after a tip-off that he kept the exotic creatures in his home, the BBC reports.

The Banded Iguana, prized for its brilliant green skin, is protected by international treaty. James told an undercover agent that he sold three lizards for $32,000 4 years ago. When officials searched his home in July, they found four more of the prized iguanas, suggesting that James was breeding them. If convicted, he could serve up to five years in prison.
Source BBC

I Can Hit a Pedestrian for Only $50?!

Free Mulligan With X-Ray!

CHICAGO - Conservative political commentator Robert Novak announced his immediate retirement Monday because of his diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor.

Novak told the editor and publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times that he plans to focus on his treatment and recovery, said Sun-Times spokeswoman Tammy Chase. Novak told the newspaper his prognosis is "dire," the Sun-Times reported on its Web site.

"The details are being worked out with the doctors this week, but the tentative plan is for radiation and chemotherapy," Novak said.

Chase confirmed Monday that Novak's tumor is malignant. He was discharged from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston on Saturday, said Kevin Myron, a hospital spokesman.

Novak announced that he had a brain tumor late last month, less than a week after he struck a pedestrian with his Corvette in downtown Washington and drove away. He received a $50 citation for the accident.

Novak, editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report, has been a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times for decades. He is perhaps best known as the longtime co-host of CNN's "Crossfire" from 1980 to 2005.

He was the first to reveal the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame. His 2003 column came out eight days after Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, said the Bush administration had twisted prewar intelligence to exaggerate the threat posed by Iraq.

Check out the comments here and extras at Jalopnik.
Just in case you thought the Mainstream Media was above all this, click here!
Do you think he and fellow Corvette owner Clarence Thomas ever drag raced down Pennsylvania Avenue looking for jaywalkers?

Novak is known for being an aggressive driver, telling the Washington Post's Reliable Source column back in 2001, "I really hate jaywalkers. I despise them. Since I don't run the country, all I can do is yell at 'em. The other option is to run 'em over, but as a compassionate conservative, I would never do that."

Grasping at Straws!!

Or, perhaps blowin' like Antrhax in the wind?

Am I the only one who does NOT belive my government's contention that Bruce Ivans was a mad anthrax killer who just committed suicide to evade law enforcement officials? Obsessed with a sorority? C'mon. You can do better.

Let's try this scenario: he killed himself because of harassment from the government. Nothing like being framed to make you want to go on, now is there? Or perhaps it wasn't suicide at all!

Multiple U.S. officials told The Associated Press that former Army scientist Bruce Ivins was long obsessed with the sorority Kappa Kappa Gamma, going back as far as his own college days at the University of Cincinnati.

Just like multiple sources claimed WMD in Iraq... causing multiple senators to vote for military action...

Despite the connection between Ivins and the sorority, authorities acknowledge they cannot place the scientist in Princeton the day the anthrax was mailed. That remains a hole in the government's case. Had Ivins not killed himself last week, authorities would have argued he could have made the seven-hour round trip to Princeton after work.

Hole in the case, hole in the suspect, ...yeah. Lots of holes.

Katherine Breckinridge Graham, a Kappa alumna who serves as an adviser to the sorority's Princeton chapter, said Monday she was interviewed by FBI agents "over the last couple of years" about the case. She said she could not provide any details about the interview because she signed an FBI nondisclosure form.

Years of probing questions about pillow fights failed to produce an arrest?

Five people died and 17 others sickened by the anthrax plot, which was launched on the heels of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Look no further than the current administration for the reasons behind this little scare tactic.

FBI agents immediately began canvassing the town, showing residents a photograph of Army scientist Steven J. Hatfill, who at the time was a key "person of interest" in the case.
That theory fell flat and this June, the Justice Department exonerated Hatfill and agreed to a $5.8 million settlement with him.

But I should believe this investigation is 100% correct and on the up-and-up...

In the past year, the FBI has turned a close eye on Ivins, whom a therapist said had a history of homicidal and sociopathic behavior.

"A Therapist". Not HIS therapist, just A therapist. Like in those celebrity magazines where they say "Dr. So and So does not treat Britney Spears, but says shaving your head can indicate..." History of homicidal and sociopathic behavior? Like this blog?!

Prosecutors had planned to indict Ivins and seek the death penalty but, knowing investigators were closing in, he killed himself with an overdose of acetaminophen, the key ingredient in Tylenol.

Which reminds me, there never was a conviction in the Tylenol Killer case. Can we blame that on him too? Just to save taxpayer money?

With its top suspect now dead, the Justice Department is considering closing the "Amerithrax" investigations.

So Dick Cheeny can't be tried for the crime?

It has been among the FBI's most publicized unsolved cases and, if it is closed, authorities are expected to unseal court documents that outline much of their case against Ivins.

Not holding my breath for that work of fiction.

Big Comeback?

Big Brown beat a mediocre field by a tiny margin to 'return victoriously' to racing Sunday. Is he really a superhorse that had one off day? Will he really race again before the Breeders Cup? Will he even start in the Breeders? Will more losses affect his worth?

I guess we'll have to stay tuned for all those answers. Right now, I just want to know if he's back on steroids.

I Have a Two Chapter a Day Habit...

Angry about smoking bans? Wish you had an easy way to carry a good book?

Try Tank Books - classic literature in cigarette-style packaging!

Warning: The Surgeon General has determined banned books can broaden your horizons.

Perhaps not Bionic...

Just in case you thought prostheses for turtles was unusual...

Wonder what his MPG (miles per grub) is???

One in Four Chance

Here's a facinating story about a sea turtle with only one flipper who beat the odds and survived with the help of humans - and now needs little prostectic flippers in order to have a better life either in an aquarium or in the wild.

To donate, click here.

Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, increased operating costs sure upset us...

Ok, so there's no such thing as a FREE lunch...

But soon, there will be no dollar lunch either! Seems McDonald's is facing tough economic times and will drop the regular cheeseburger from its $1.00 menu offerings.

Launched in 2003, the Dollar Menu has been a key driver of sales at McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants and has helped it ride out dips in consumer spending. But recently, franchisees have complained that the menu has brought too much unprofitable traffic into their restaurants.

Unprofitable traffic? That would be me and my friends on any given Friday. They always get the cheeseburger, I sometimes get a plain hamburger (should they not be able to offer cheese on the dollar burger any longer, my 'naked lunch' may still remain...) or if the toy looks intriguing, a Happy Meal.

Hey, here's an idea - install energy-efficient light bulbs in that stupid arch. Or sell off a few more of Grimace's arms!

Dragon News

This one, er, these two? made it to one year old!!

Once again, I am depressed by accounts of pet reptiles gaining fame an fortune for their owners whilst I have yet to earn dime one from any of my ungrateful critters.

(You may recall the recent indignity of not even finishing in the top ten in a recent
pet photo contest; as usual, the world fails to think I'm as funny as I think I am...)

Apparently to make it on the nightly news you need
two heads, or at least attack a few people.

I didn't see the movie Nim's Island (nor did most of America, judging from the box office) but they employed a bearded dragon for some scenes. First, the lizard in the book was an iguana, more likely to be found on a small island, especially if it were a marine iguana. I guess they changed to a Bearded Dragon because they are so tame, and perhaps due to size. Secondly, most scenes of the lizard were computer generated so they could make him do goofy things like catapult through the jungle, etc. I hate 90% of CGI images, so I don't think I missed too much.

Another, even more unusual animal joined the cast to play Fred, Nim’s Bearded Dragon, a type of exotic lizard named for the expandable pouch under its jaw that resembles a hanging beard. Despite their mythic-sounding name, Bearded Dragons are reptiles that are known for being quite docile and for enjoying human contact, which made them a great choice for the film. Ultimately, John Medlin cast five Bearded Dragons - Goblet, Steve, Crusher, Calico and Alice - who all shared the role.

"We used Steve most of the time because he would do anything,” explains Abigail Breslin. “But if he started to get a bit too active we’d bring in Goblet, then Calico, then Alice, then Crusher. That was our plan.” Goblet actually gave birth to about a dozen or more eggs during filming. The first one that hatched was called “Nim” and the second “Abigail.” Still it wasn’t always easy working with such primitive creatures for whom filmmaking is a mystery. “Lizards are real straight men. They don’t give you a lot in terms of acting range!” laughs Jennifer Flackett.