Published on September 9 2005

Telegraph | Opinion | Middle age? It's a state of constant irritation
With every week that passes, my list of pet hates grows longer. "Your call is important to us"; silicone implants; "thank you for not smoking"; Charles Clarke; cold callers; Ann Widdecombe; "celebrity" anything; health and safety; Yasmin Alibhai-Brown; "am I alone in thinking?"; work; the Australian interrogative inflection at the end of a statement; human rights; "for my sins"; James Blunt; "web page not found"; the Arts Council; "you're welcome"; David Blunkett; "perfectly good old-fashioned English word"; the Commission for Racial Equality; Dale Winton; media studies; "prestigious"; Patricia Hewitt; peanut butter; "so I was, like, 'whaddayamean?' "; oversized jeans that expose their wearers' underpants; the Animal Liberation Front; "in a very real sense"; teenagers who never hang up their towels after a bath; Hillary Clinton; very fat people who walk, very slowly, three abreast, along the narrowest pavements; happy-clappies; opening credits that keep flashing up on the screen, 20 minutes after the start of the film; silly surveys, claiming that the average Briton believes that middle age begins at 49 and ends at 65…

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Published on September 9 2005

Rural vs. City Ways at Issue in a Wisconsin Murder Trial - New York Times
MADISON, Wis., Sept. 8 - A jury was chosen in this liberal bastion on Thursday for the trial of a Hmong immigrant charged with killing six hunters, causing consternation in the North Woods, where the shootings took place. Some residents of Rice Lake, where all the victims lived or grew up, said they were concerned that the jurors from Dane County, which encompasses Madison, might not grasp the nuances of rural life. "They are not as rural, and their culture and their lifestyle is quite different from ours up here in the north," said Renee Gralewicz, an ethnic studies instructor at the Rice Lake campus of the University of Wisconsin. "So we might have some people who really don't understand the culture of hunting and the etiquette and the ethics and how all of that plays out on the jury."

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Published on September 8 2005

Damn. Laptop computers are NICE!

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Published on September 5 2005

Louisiana's Wetlands @ National Geographic Magazine
It was a broiling August afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, the Big Easy, the City That Care Forgot. Those who ventured outside moved as if they were swimming in tupelo honey. Those inside paid silent homage to the man who invented air-conditioning as they watched TV "storm teams" warn of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico. Nothing surprising there: Hurricanes in August are as much a part of life in this town as hangovers on Ash Wednesday.
Reading this article is almost scary. The accuracy is incredible--except, I hope, the part where it predicts 50,000 dead as a result of the hurricane/ flooding.

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Published on September 4 2005

And in reading through the entire article, it would seem that the blame game is in full swing. Fingerpointing seems to be everywhere these days, doesn't it? Many Evacuated, but Thousands Still Waiting
Behind the scenes, a power struggle emerged, as federal officials tried to wrest authority from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco (D). Shortly before midnight Friday, the Bush administration sent her a proposed legal memorandum asking her to request a federal takeover of the evacuation of New Orleans, a source within the state's emergency operations center said Saturday. The administration sought unified control over all local police and state National Guard units reporting to the governor. Louisiana officials rejected the request after talks throughout the night, concerned that such a move would be comparable to a federal declaration of martial law. Some officials in the state suspected a political motive behind the request. "Quite frankly, if they'd been able to pull off taking it away from the locals, they then could have blamed everything on the locals," said the source, who does not have the authority to speak publicly. A senior administration official said that Bush has clear legal authority to federalize National Guard units to quell civil disturbances under the Insurrection Act and will continue to try to unify the chains of command that are split among the president, the Louisiana governor and the New Orleans mayor. Louisiana did not reach out to a multi-state mutual aid compact for assistance until Wednesday, three state and federal officials said. As of Saturday, Blanco still had not declared a state of emergency, the senior Bush official said. "The federal government stands ready to work with state and local officials to secure New Orleans and the state of Louisiana," White House spokesman Dan Bartlett said. "The president will not let any form of bureaucracy get in the way of protecting the citizens of Louisiana." Blanco made two moves Saturday that protected her independence from the federal government: She created a philanthropic fund for the state's victims and hired James Lee Witt, Federal Emergency Management Agency director in the Clinton administration, to advise her on the relief effort. Bush, who has been criticized, even by supporters, for the delayed response to the disaster, used his weekly radio address to put responsibility for the failure on lower levels of government. The magnitude of the crisis "has created tremendous problems that have strained state and local capabilities," he said. "The result is that many of our citizens simply are not getting the help they need, especially in New Orleans. And that is unacceptable."

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Published on September 3 2005

1. Alabama: Hell Yes, We Have Electricity 2. Alaska: 11,623 Eskimos Can't Be Wrong! 3. Arizona: But It's A Dry Heat 4. Arkansas: Literacy Ain't Everything 5. California: By 30, Our Women Have More Plastic Than Your Honda 6. Colorado: If You Don't Ski, Don't Bother 7. Connecticut: Like Massachusetts, Only The Kennedy's Don't Own It Yet 8. Delaware: We Really Do Like The Chemicals In Our Water 9. Florida: Ask Us About Our Grandkids 10. Georgia: We Put The "Fun" In Fundamentalist Extremism 11. Hawaii: Haka Tiki Mou Sha'ami Leeki Toru (Death To Mainland Scum, But Leave Your Money) 12. Idaho: More Than Just Potatoes...Well Okay, We're Not, But The Potatoes Sure Are Real Good 13. Illinois: Please Don't Pronounce the "S" 14. Indiana: 2 Billion Years Tidal Wave Free 15. Iowa: We Do Amazing Things With Corn 16. Kansas: First Of The Rectangle States 17. Kentucky: Five Million People; Fifteen Last Names 18. Louisiana: We're Not ALL Drunk Cajun Wackos, But That's Our Tourism Campaign 19. Maine: We're Really Cold, But We Have Cheap Lobster 20. Maryland: If You Can Dream It, We Can Tax It 21. Massachusetts: Our Taxes Are Lower Than Sweden's (For Most Tax Brackets) 22. Michigan: First Line Of Defense From The Canadians 23. Minnesota: 10,000 Lakes... And 10,000,000,000,000 Mosquitoes 24. Mississippi: Come And Feel Better About Your Own State 25. Missouri: Your Federal Flood Relief Tax Dollars At Work 26. Montana: Land Of The Big Sky, The Unabomber, Right-wing Crazies, And Very Little Else 27. Nebraska: Ask About Our State Motto Contest 28. Nevada: Hookers and Poker! 29. New Hampshire: Go Away And Leave Us Alone 30. New Jersey: You Want A ##$%##! Motto? I Got Yer ##$%##! Motto Right Here! 31. New Mexico: Lizards Make Excellent pets 32. New York: You Have The Right To Remain Silent, You Have The Right To An Attorney... 33. North Carolina: Tobacco Is A Vegetable 34. North Dakota: We Really Are One Of The 50 States! 35. Ohio: At Least We're Not Michigan 36. Oklahoma: Like The Play, Only No Singing 37. Oregon: Spotted Owl...It's What's For Dinner 38. Pennsylvania: Cook With Coal 39. Rhode Island: We're Not REALLY An Island 40. South Carolina: Remember The Civil War? We Didn't Actually Surrender 41. South Dakota: Closer Than North Dakota 42. Tennessee: You Need Our Help Where 43. Texas: Si' Hablo Ing'les (Yes, I Speak English) 44. Utah: Our Jesus Is Better Than Your Jesus 45. Vermont: Yep 46. Virginia: Who Says Government Stiffs And Slackjaw Yokels Don't Mix? 47. Washington: What Rain? 48. Washington, D.C.: Wanna Be Mayor? 49. West Virginia: One Big Happy Family... Really! 50. Wisconsin: Come Cut The Cheese 51. Wyoming: Where Men Are Men ... and the sheep are scared! DigitalDreamDoor.com

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Published on September 3 2005

Mitch at Shot in the Dark, a good Northerner even though not from Wisconsin, wrote a great tribute to a great record album released thirty years ago this weekend. Can it really be that long since we heard the screen door slam for the first time? Tramps Like Us
Born to Run is one of those rare records that feels as good today as the day it was released; it hasn't aged or dated itself one iota; one of those bits of art that will long outlive its creator. One moment at a time.

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Published on September 2 2005

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Published on September 2 2005

German Callousness: Kicking Hurricane Victims While They're Down - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News
Hurricane Katrina has cost the lives of hundreds and devastated the US Gulf Coast. But instead of aid donations and sympathy, the Americans have heard little more than a haughty "I told you so" from Germany. It's another low point for trans-Atlantic relations -- and set off by a German minister. How pathetic. For the record: German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder offered his condolences to US President George W. Bush for the Hurricane Katrina disaster that has hit the Gulf Coast. Both he and his fellow Germans, Schröder wrote, feel "great sympathy for the fate of those people affected by the hurricane." Nice words to be sure, but that was it. No pledges of aid money, no announcements of immediate help -- although finally, two days later, the German interior minister did manage to come out with a hesitant offer of assistance. And let's be honest, the crisis region this time around isn't in the Third World, but is in the United States of America. There really isn't much of a need for German helpers -- experienced as they may be from aid missions from Kosovo to Afghanistan -- because the American authorities are already doing as much as can be done. Nevertheless, German aid money delivered to American aid agencies would surely be welcome on the other side of the Atlantic. But apparently, people over here believe that the Americans over there don't really need help. Strange. The same people who normally spend their time pointing their holier-than-thou fingers at the ghettos and slums in the US, the same ones who describe America as an out-of-control capitalist monster, are now, when the Americans could really use a bit of help, oddly quiet. Apparently the Americans had it coming: "The American president has closed his eyes to the economic and human damage that natural catastrophes such as Katrina -- in other words, disasters caused by a lack of climate protection measures -- can visit on his country." Who wrote this? None other than Jürgen Trittin, Germany's minister of the environment..... .....It's not the American people's fault that the storm hit and they couldn't have stopped it. The Germans, on the other hand, could have done a lot to prevent World War II. And yet, care packages still rained down from US troops. Trittin's know-it-all stance is therefore not only tasteless, it is also historically blind.

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