Saturday, July 20, 2002

I'm curious. If readers and visitors would be so Kind as to tell me what book you're reading right now. Just curious.

Friday, July 19, 2002

Football Team Fired for Playing Pool While Naked

A Gaelic football team has been disbanded after players were caught on a hotel security camera playing pool naked during a late night drinking session.

It was also claimed that one player roamed around the Northern Irish hotel in a pair of frilly lace knickers.

I'm not sure what to do with that one.

This moment is brought to you by For the Children™

A "foundation report" (read: special interest group with a political agenda) has concluded that gun safety programs geared toward Children™ aren't effective.

It found that children's curiosity and teenagers' love of risk make them resistant to efforts such as the National Rifle Association's Eddie Eagle campaign and others run by gun control advocates to keep children away from weapons.

Jeepers. If you need the NRA's help to keep your kids from getting their paws on your pistol, you've got big problems, mommy and daddy.

In some cases, it was feared the programs increased the appeal of guns, said the child health specialists who wrote "Children, Youth and Gun Violence" for the Future of Children, a journal of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Well, did they expect the "guns are bad" lectures to fair better than the "alcohol is bad" series? One look at my liver will tell you that my seventh grade health teacher was really wasting her time showing me all those pictures of what alcohol does to your innards.

The report said the easiest way to save young lives would be to make guns more "childproof" with built-in safety devices, although the industry has been slow to adopt these measures.

These folks seem to be basing their conclusions on the idea that guns are as ubiquitous as water. Jeezus, is it really that hard to hide your gun from your kid?

In the meantime, parents should become the new target of gun safety campaigns, because they leave guns around the house, loaded and unlocked, according to the report.

All of them?!?!

Parents don't take enough responsibility for gun safety because they overestimate the ability of their children to deal safely with guns, it said.

First count: see above. What kind of person "overestimates" the ability of anyone to handle a gun, let alone a child?

Two studies showed that children who received gun safety education were just as likely to play with a gun -- and pull the trigger -- as children who had not had the training.

What about the study about kids who live in households where guns are kept locked up and hidden from the greasy fingers of the family? Here's your "training": Listen up, you ankle-biting punk. You touch this gun, and I'm going to tan your hide. And then you're going to spend the entire summer holed up in your bedroom with no television. It's called "parenting", and no state, organization, training program, law, or lobby of "concerned citizens" can take the place of a smart parent who knows better than to keep firearms laying around.

The Guardian is running a competition for the best British weblog. It looks like they aren't accepting outside nominations, so you Brits are going to have to put yourselves up. Good luck to anyone who decides to enter.

Good deal for a turncoat

At the age of 38, American Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh can walk out of prison a free man.

Okay, I know this sounds all cold and mean, but the whole time I was reading this commentary, the words "Jack" and "Ruby" kept repeating over and over again in my head.

Juan Gato has been promising "A Bunch of Crap From a Moron" since he first started blogging. Personally, I think he has yet to deliver, but he's upset at not being one of the targets of the unconstructive criticism recently offered by a certain blogger. So, in order to keep his spirits up in the hopes that this won't ruin his weekend, let's all tell him how bad he stinks.

You suck, Gato. Big smelly Al Bundy toes.

It's like Oscar Wilde once said, "the only thing worse than being talked about, is a dentist who won't kick down the nitris." Or something like that.

Christopher Cross has come back to the blog. I think he's promising to post nude pictures if we ask nice enough.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

So, the Brits think that a volcanic pill may cure hangovers. This might turn out to be the first Really Important Discovery of the 21st century.

Of course, back in my college days, I seem to remember a few folks mentioning that something called "bong hits" also does wonders for the morning after. Not that I can vouch for this based on my own personal experiences...


"They are not going to say that the war is over for a while yet."

Christian Science Monitor:

"But some analysts say that the IRA is effectively declaring the war over."

The Telegraph:

"'The IRA seem to think that they can excuse all they have done with just one statement that wipes the slate clean,' said Margaret Veitch, whose parents William Mullan, 72, and Agnes, 73, were murdered. 'We have been hurt for 14 and a half years but they have taken the easy way out. We would accept an apology if the IRA had the guts to give it to us face to face.'"

Evil loyalists-front rag The News Letter:

"Churches welcome IRA statement"

The Cat Box, I mean The Independent:

"In a conflict that is gradually and fitfully subsiding rather than coming to a definitive full stop, the IRA statement can be viewed as just one step among hundreds of moves along the difficult road to peace and reconciliation. The individuals to whom the statement was addressed may or may not be comforted by it, but perhaps there is some collective consolation in the very clear implication that the IRA intends to take no more lives."

David McKittrick also claims in the Indy that "Most Unionists are against the peace process." I am assuming this is so because they have enjoyed these last few decades of strife, suffering, and living in fear. Either that or McKittrick is full of crap.

It seems that most of the responses to the IRA apology have either been overly-cynical or overly-trusting. You can't blame the cynics for their skepticism, and you can't blame the trusting for wanting to believe that they really mean it in the hopes that the whole nasty mess is finally coming to an end.

I think both are right.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Happy Anniversary, Relapsed Catholic! Go visit Kathy Shaidle and tell her so in person. Here's to many, many more.

Today's Juan Gato With Cheese! Award For Stating the Bleeding Obvious:

IRA admitted that years of carnage among civilians damaged its cause

The article notes the "legitimate targets" of the IRA:

These included judges and magistrates, prison officers, former members of the police, Army and Ulster Defence Regiment, and others. More than a dozen security-force suppliers, contractors and workmen were killed, the IRA placing on its death list "those in the Civil Service, fuel contractors, caterers and food contractors, transport, ie shipping and bus companies who ferry British soldiers and UDR men back and forth from Britain, cleaning contractors, those who supply and maintain vending machines and anyone else who takes on Ministry of Defence or Northern Ireland Office contracts." There have also been instances of IRA victims who, while technically connected to the security force, would by most standards be graded as non-combatants, such as a naval recruiting officer killed in Belfast last year.

The IRA's statement yesterday said that peace "will not be achieved by creating a hierarchy of victims in which some are deemed more or less worthy than others." Maybe that's so. But you can hardly blame the loved ones of victims and innocent bystanders for being more than a little bit bitter and less willing to be generous in their forgiveness.

After Enniskillen, one IRA leader acknowledged the damage: "Politically and internationally it is a major setback. Our central base can take a hell of a lot of jolting and crises, with limited demoralisation. But the outer reaches are just totally devastated."

"It was a setback for our agenda." Not "I'm sorry that 11 people were killed and 63 others were injured". I think that's the most shocking bit. Even Gerry Adams, in a 1997 apology for the bombing, could only bring himself to say "I hope there will be no more Enniskillen's and I am deeply sorry about what happened in Enniskillen, but I think we can only have a guarantee of a peaceful future when we tackle the root causes of the conflict and when we resolve them."

I hate the term root causes. It's just ambiguous enough and so relative to each party involved that it only sets the solution that much further apart from reality. The root causes of terrorism. The root causes of hostility and violence. I'll give you the root causes: the perpetrators of these sorts of things are assholes. There's your root cause for you.

One thing noted by Eamon Collins in the book he wrote about his years in the IRA, Killing Rage, was that the IRA, especially throughout the 1980's, became increasingly attractive to young men more interested in violence than ideology. I'm sure the same holds true for loyalist paramilitaries of the time. It became a magnet for either mercenaries - how does the saying go? "Soldiers in search of a war"? - or young men intent on being involved in something that they perceived as greater than themselves, a cause that they were more blinded by than convinced of. So blinded, in fact, that they put it before their family, friends, and community. Even above their God and their own conscience. And now they'e saying they're sorry. Sorry enough to disband and give up violence for good?

Writing Killing Rage cost Eamon Collins his life. He was stabbed repeatedly while walking his dog along a rural road. I wonder if the IRA's apology is extended to his wife and four children as well?

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Thanks to the Feces Flinging Monkey for this one:

Irish Republican Army apologizes for deaths it caused in last 30 years

So, it's going to take me a while to sort out my feelings on this one. But be assured, my ill-informed opinion, complete with bad grammer and spelling misteaks, is on the way. Whether you like it or not.

I'm expecting ol' Mick and Pat, my two favorite nationalists, to compensate for my stupidity in the meantime.

Public television has long been a target of right-wing legislators, who see it as a hot-bed of liberal thinking inimical to the core values of the US heartland.

That's what it is. I don't have a problem of networks that are "hot-beds of liberal thinking". That's what CNN is for. Quality and "high culture" programming is one thing. Pushing a political agenda is another. It's even worse if the folks at PBS think they're going to do it with my money.

The brewing row is reminiscent of many similar clashes in the past, including the rows over public funding for a show of Robert Mapplethorpe photographs and last year's brouhaha over a Britpack art show at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Oh, those terrible conservatives. Imagine not wanting photographs called "Mr. 10 1/2" paid for with taxpayer monies. Look, just because Mapplethorpe's photographs were in black and white and the lighting and backdrop were expensive, doesn't mean they weren't pornography. If you want to argue that his particular brand of pornography was also "art", fine. Four semesters of aesthetics will teach you not to argue with someone else's definitions of what separates "art" from "crap". But I don't think it makes me some overly-modest Lucretian prude when I say that I don't like to watch other people "doing it". Nor do I think that I'm being too old fashioned when I say that people taking photographs of blood-stained panties is gross. And tax dollars paying for this kind of art? No friggin' way.

I've strayed too far from the point of the original Indy article, which was about how all the puritanical control-freaks of the Bible Belt don't think that Muppets on Sesame Street should have HIV/AIDS. Neither do I. The average age of Sesame Street viewers is around 3-7 years old. That's between 5-10 years before they should be forced to deal with social problems of that magnitude. Sesame Street should stick to spelling and sharing, not giving advice on how to avoid sexually transmitted diseases in between lessons on the importance of not eating paste and why poking your friends and classmates in the eye with Crayola is bad.