Zhaba Zhournal
Friday, February 27, 2004 
Today in history 
Today in history: President Bush declared "Iraq's army is defeated. Our military objectives are met." Except it was the other President Bush, and it was 1991.

Well, as Tom Lehrer said of the Germans, "they've hardly bothered us since then."

(The transcript of his victory speech can be found at the George Bush Presidential Library. At least he didn't make it on the deck of an aircraft carrier.)

[ at 12:14 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, February 24, 2004 
Speaking of constitutions... 
Vladimir Putin: "In accordance with article 117 of the Russian Constitution, I have decided today that the government is to resign." Hey, hey, hey there, don't give Bush any ideas about more ways to fuck up fuck with amend our a country's constitution, okay?

(You actually can spell "Rossiskaya Federatsiya" without "diktator" and "avtokrat," but...ah, I've got one: you can't spell it without "tsar.")

[ at 11:51 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

What's an eight-letter word for George Bush? 
If you said either "dumbfuck" or "theocrat," you're right. ("Asshole" and "bastard" only have seven letters, and "dictator" isn't quite accurate quite yet.)

In the name of all that is and isn't holy, DON'T FUCK WITH THE CONSTITUTION. Or, to put it another way, "The Constitution? Don't fuck with it." Or, to put it another way, "Things to fuck with? The Constitution ain't one of them."

Especially when, if you start from the beginning, you get to the separation of church and state part pretty damn quick. Which, to put that another way, says "Sanctity? Shut the fuck up about it."

Well, I think I'm well-trained enough not to bite people when I'm this pissed off, and it's been a long time since a political speech has literally made me throw up (that was Pat Buchanan's "Judeo-Christian heritage" rant at the 1996 Republican National Convention), so I probably don't pose a threat to myself or others if I leave my desk now. I can probably even refrain from punching any brick walls or kicking any concrete curbs. And there's always Xanax. (Remember, kids: You can't spell "psychiatric medication" without "America.")

[ at 11:39 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Reptile family values 
New research on timber rattlesnakes—among the deadliest snakes in North America—shows that they're actually social and family-oriented: they care for their young, recognize their kin even after being separated at birth, and often live together in family groups. I'm not even going to bother with a "What's the difference between rattlesnakes and Republicans?" joke; fill in the punch line yourself.

[ at 9:20 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Saturday, February 21, 2004 
I am heartened that a San Francisco judge has again refused to halt the city's same-sex weddings. (I'm trying to come up with a headline using the phrase "SF judge says STFU," but I can't figure out the rest of it.)

I am pleasantly surprised that a county in New Mexico was, briefly, issuing same-sex marriage licenses on Friday. (They stopped late in the day; more information on Monday, presumably.)

And I am downright shocked that the King of Cambodia has called for his country to legalize same-sex marriage. Well, damn. You go, king. It's rather internationally embarrassing that a country that's not many years away from killing fields and genocidal dictatorship might wind up giving a civil rights lesson to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.

[ at 6:52 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, February 16, 2004 
Like a diamond in the sky? 
Actually, it is a diamond in the sky: a white dwarf star that's been compressed into a 10 billion trillion trillion carat diamond. No word on whether it's one of those sparkly transparent diamonds, or just a black industrial-grade diamond; still, that's an awful lot of diamond. DeBeers would be really pissed off if someone figured out how to mine it. (I imagine that would be difficult, since getting anywhere near a white dwarf would probably result in getting sucked into its enormous gravitational field and vaporized in its intense heat. And it's not like the earth is running out of diamonds any time soon, anyway. They're a lot less rare than DeBeers would have you think.)

[ at 12:07 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Friday, February 13, 2004 
Words, words, words 
Someone should invent a crayon-stain remover and call it "Cray-Off." (Somebody probably already has.)

If someone invented a mayonnaise-based sexual lubricant—and I really hope they don't, but if they did—they could call it "Mayonn-Ease."

If a group of eschatological Christians started playing Caribbean music, they could call it "Apocalypso."

(My brain just comes up with this stuff sometimes.)

[ at 11:21 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, February 10, 2004 
Election update (no, not our election) 
Well, this isn't bad: the "missing" Russian presidential candidate has surfaced in Ukraine, alive and apparently well, surprised by all the fuss his unscheduled absence had caused:
The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted the head of his campaign staff, Kseniya Ponomareva, as saying that Rybkin "called me, saying that he had had pleasantly spent four days in Kiev and did not understand what all this hysteria was about."
Why exactly he took off to Kiev for four days without telling his wife or anyone on his staff is his own business, of course; perhaps, rather than sleeping with the fishes, he was only drinking like one...

So: He's alive. Good.

The three other politicians I mentioned in yesterday's post are still dead. Not good.

("One of these politicians you've been accused of liquidating is not like the others, three of these politicians are kind of the same...")

[ at 3:51 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The end of an era? 
Is the age of flagrantly-misleading domain names coming to an end? It's reported that pornographer Daniel Parisi is selling the leading misleading Web address "whitehouse.com", the slogan of which isn't, but ought to be, "Confusing children, scandalizing parents, and surprising the heck out of people who don't understand TLDs since 1997." (The actual White House Web site is, of course, "whitehouse.gov." The presidency isn't officially a commercial enterprise...not quite yet, anyway...)

(Actually, that's probably why "whitehouse.com" is still around; if you bought, say, "windows95.com" and routed it to a porn site, you'd be slapped with a lawsuit before Internet Solutions charged your credit card; but the federal government can't sue for trademark infringement.) (Can it?)

[ at 12:16 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Spam subject line of the day 
Once again, not a very inventive spam name, but I love the subject line: "Anita Alford," "Re: helm inviolable." Doesn't that sound like the beginning of an epic-fantasy quest? "Thou shalt cross the Misty Mountains and the Burning Barrens and bring back the Sword Invincible and the Helm Inviolable, and therewith slay the Dragon of Dark Delving, and when thou returnest with his heart on an adamantine spike, we shall all go out for mead and fresh unicorn sandwiches."

[ at 9:20 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, February 09, 2004 
Elections elsewhere 
Well, this isn't good: a Russian presidential candidate, a "harsh critic" of Vladimir Putin, has been reported missing; he hasn't contacted his family or his campaign staff since Thursday. One of his campaign members said "As he is a registered presidential candidate, we hope this will take priority." Yeah, right after the March 14 elections, probably.

(The missing man's name, Rybkin, is related to the Russian word for "fish," which, I fear, is who he's sleeping with...)

(If your browser handles Unicode, his name is Рыбкин, and "fish" is рыба.)

More, 11:50 a.m.: This article in Aftenposten reports that a Norwegian official has accused Putin of "systematic liquidation of the political opposition in Russia," with Rybkin's disappearance the most recent in a string of suspicious, um, ends-of-lives, including presidential candidate Aleksandr Lebed going down in a helicopter crash in 2002, liberal politician Sergej Jusjenkov being shot in the street the day he registered his new "Liberal Russia" party in April 2003, and liberal politician and journalist Jurij Sjekotsjihin being poisoned three months after that.

Jeez, "Russian presidential candidate" is turning out to be an even shorter-lived political career than "Kennedy family member."

I think one thing the U.S. may have failed to consider in "making the world safe for democracy" is that democracy is not always safe for the world...

[ at 11:22 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Thursday, February 05, 2004 
News flash about flash news 
Here's a non-surprise: Janet Jackson's breast has become the most searched-for image in Web history. It's certainly the most searched-for thing on my blog, at least in terms of most searches in fewest days. (Between 17:47 PST on February 3rd and 8:29 PST today, I've gotten 95 individual searches for it; at any rate, that's how many search strings I've found in my log files, using the regular expression (^.*([Jj]anet|[Jj]ackson|[Ss]uper ?[Bb]owl|[Hh]alf[- ]?time|[Bb]reast).*$) [Don't try that at home, kids.])

[ at 12:05 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

The spam names have been getting less inventive (ah, for the days of Foothold G. Heuristic and Torset McClafferty!), but today I got a good spam title: "Conquer Your Debt Good People." Sounds like it was sent by Miss Manners ("Gentle reader...") or perhaps a Quaker ("Friend, hast thou sufficient life insurance?") It also immediately got a song from the Messiah running through my mind: "Comfort ye, my people." The meter scans, and the assonance and consonance align, almost perfectly. (Yes, I know too much about a) poetry and b) classical music. What else am I going to fill my head with, how to multiply and when my bills are due?)

[ at 9:39 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Wednesday, February 04, 2004 
And the winner(s) is/are... 
New York Times headline and blurb for the seven-state primary results:
Edwards Takes South Carolina; Clark Claims Win in Oklahoma
Senator John Kerry won substantial victories in Missouri, Delaware, Arizona and North Dakota.
That's six states. Aw, poor New Mexico didn't even get a mention. You'd think they could have squeezed it in. (Even Delaware got a mention; but it's the only vaguely northeastern state; and the only mid-Atlantic one. And don't forget the chickens!)

[ at 9:24 AM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Tuesday, February 03, 2004 
The First State and the primacy of primaries 
Meant to write this earlier, but that working-at-work thing got in the way. I'd better hurry up and finish it now, before Lieberman joins Punxsutawney Phil in his hole in the ground...

So this morning J. and I are watching the early TV shows, and our local station has footage of Lieberman campaigning in Delaware, my minuscule home state—right outside the Wilmington Music School, where I took piano, horn, and voice lessons. (Delaware is so small there's no more than two degrees of separation between anyone and any other person, place, or thing. Ask me about the Thomas Capano case sometime.) Most of the candidates have ignored Delaware entirely (okay, so we only have fifteen delegates, but that's still more than North Dakota!), and J. and I were surprised to see Lieberman making an appearance there.
J.: He must want to show that he can carry a, quote, Southern state.

Me: Hey, Delaware is half Southern. Two-thirds, really. In area, at least.
(We're actually on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line; the northernmost county, New Castle, is as Northeastern as you can get, with more chemical and banking industry headquarters than you can shake a Teflon® stick at; the southern two, Kent and Sussex, are pretty darn Southern, right down to the Confederate flags on the pickup trucks, but they're inhabited almost entirely by chickens. [I don't know if this is still true, but when I was in high school, Delaware had the nation's highest chicken-to-person ratio, at 7:1. {Other states have more chickens, but they also have more people.}])

Anyway. Yes, two-thirds of Delaware is Southern; but the chickens can't vote.

Later in the day, the evening news mentioned that Lieberman was going to drop out if he didn't carry a single state; me: "Ah, that's why he chose to focus on the smallest." But it looks like Delaware has cast its lot and its chickens behind Kerry, and Lieberman is bowing out. Oh well. At he got us a few news cameras in a music school parking lot on a rainy February morning...

[ at 9:29 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Legal word error of the day; or, Why I love local news 
Headline on the local NBC station's Web site: "3 Senate Buildings Shut Amid Ricing Fears." Which sounds like they've been attacked by roving bands of wedding guests. "Oh no! That pigeon just ate the rice! She's gonna blow!"

[ at 4:11 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

Monday, February 02, 2004 
Superbowl: Of Patriots and pasties 
For your browsing convenience, I've combined both the breast-related and non–breast-related aspects of my Superbowl musings into one post.


If I knew a darn thing about sports, or even where to find sports trivia, I wouldn't have to ask this, even rhetorically:

Is the Superbowl between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers the first one where both teams didn't have a specific home state, let alone a home city?

One thing I said while I was thinking about this last night was "At least there won't be rioting in a specific city when their team wins or loses." But I underestimated the degree to which Boston considers itself the capital city of New England. (I guess it is, at that; what else would it be, Stowe, Vermont? Providence might make a claim for it, but they didn't have riots.)


The game, of course, is not the aspect of the Superbowl that people are actually talking about. It's not even the commercials this year (which were mostly subpar, I think; there's a limited amount of things you can do with trained animals, even trained animals as huge and impressive as grizzly bears). No, it is, of course, Ohmigodawoman'sbreast! (I wish I didn't need that apostrophe to break up the flow of letters.)

Not that it was a particularly shocking moment, as shocking moments go; it was only one breast, and for heaven's sake, she wasn't even bare-breasted; she was wearing a spangled pasty. Lil' Kim has worn less to major awards shows (I will, for now, link only to the purple-pasty outfit at the 1999 MTV Video Music awards). And Jennifer Lopez has worn more while simultaneously revealing more; remember that see-through Oscar dress that required her presentation speech to be shot from the neck up?

What I find most amusing is that, although millions of people saw it on live TV, now no one can actually show it again to those who missed it; at least, no one in a U.S. daytime or prime-time media organization. (I imagine it's different in Europe, where they have nekkid girls in daily newspapers.)

Oh, and of course now MTV says it was an accident ("The tearing of Janet Jackson's costume was unrehearsed, unplanned, completely unintentional and was inconsistent with assurances we had about the content of the performance"), and Justin Timberlake says it was an accident ("I am sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl"), and CBS says it was, if not an accident, not done in collusion with them (spokesperson: "CBS officials attended rehearsals of the halftime show all week, 'and there was no indication any such thing would happen'"); yeah, whatever. To quote from no less an authority than the New York Times:
There were signs that this was not an accident. It happened during Timberlake's song, "Rock Your Body," in which he promises his dance partner to "have you naked by the end of this song." Jackson's choreographer, Gil Duldulao, had told an MTV interviewer to expect "some shocking moments." And some Janet Jackson fans were, no doubt, disappointed to see that a body part they were eager to see was obscured behind a silver star, more evidence that Jackson might have been planning ahead.
And the Drudge Report, which sometimes actually is no less an authority than the New York Times, has dug up some documents averring that it was, indeed, planned in collusion with CBS; but the page isn't opening very well at the moment, probably due to thousands of people trying to access it every millisecond. (If you do successfully open it, it's pretty definitely not work-safe, even if she is wearing a spangled pasty.)

In the interest of, um, full disclosure, J. and I actually didn't see it; we were sort-of watching the halftime show, but not paying much attention, especially when Justin Timberlake showed up, looking like he'd just been woken up from sleeping in someone's garage and had to steal clothing from the Salvation Army on the way to the stadium. (Me: "The other people don't look good, but at least they look like they dressed for the occasion.") I reported the Pasty Seen Round the World to J. after going online and seeing all the hyperventilating headlines. His comment: "And next year it'll be two women exposing their breasts while kissing." (Hey, MTV, don't get any ideas.)

[ at 12:21 PM • by Abby • permalink  ]

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