Wednesday, February 22, 2006

He Was in Serbia The Whole Time, Apparently

Fans of this blog are familiar with my hobbyhorse interest in the Balkans and the fate of those scoundrels who have so far eluded justice. (See my contretemps with an innocent bystander over the standing of Croatian Gen. Ante Gotovina if you don't know what I'm talking about.) Well, the news wires have been hopping all day with conflicting reports that Serbian Gen. Ratko Mladic, the military leader of the Bosnian Serbs during the bad old days, has been either arrested, "cornered" or is still out there somewhere. Something is definitely happening, and I'm sorry I don't know what. More as it develops.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

If You'll Just Stop Narcing On Me For A Moment

A sharp-witted but ultimately powerless commenter named the proprietor of this "webbed log" in a comment on Rummy and Exercise. It had to be deleted. Please see the comments section for similarly unfulfilling details. Essentially it boils down to "Don't use my name because I am trying to do this in secret while I juggle a life of crime and a separate life of respectability."

Monday, February 20, 2006

What Do I Do For President's Day?

1) I buy myself a ticket to the Kirov Opera's Feb. 26 showing of Parsifal at the Kennedy Center. I have attempted in vain for several days to find someone to go with me. One likely candidate will be out of town. Others do not care for opera. I will probably have to find something nice to buy at J. C. Penney before I make my appearance.

2) I note with a bitter admixture of shame and professional interest that this sad article about Arizona racking up (what else?) huge court fines was co-written by an old colleague of mine at the university. Her name is at the bottom. I knew her.

3) I have talked to pretty much everyone I know on the phone at some point. You all know who you are. If you're not on the list, please remember that I keep my friends close and my enemies even closer. In case it makes you feel better.

4) I finished a complete screen script for my sitcom, still a work in progress but gelling nicely these days. Writing it out forces me and my anonymous patron to define the characters better than we did the night we drunkenly decided English majors are funny people and we had to show the world just how funny.

5) Well, Young Guns is on TV. That was always an embarrassing favorite.

Monday, February 13, 2006

They Know Who They Sound Like, Don't They?

You know, I never lived through communism, but one think you could say is that the reds had artistic propaganda posters in the first half of the last century. Well, these guys are giving them a run for their money. Take care to sniff out the weird triple-salchow, what's-your-real-point twists of meaning and logic with stuff like the Che Guevara shirt that says "Brought to you by capitalism." Also the Reagan hero worship iconography, sorta like the Che Guevara shirt they're ostensibly mocking except without any apparent irony. And the downright creepy Iron Man logo.

Four Pages an Issue, and Mostly Advertising

Check this action out.

Kid Busts Parents for Excessive Doobage

Never mind why I was reading the extremely disappointing and low-rent blog for the U.S. Marijuana Party -- the reading public knows I don't ride that dragon. The point is that they were intellectually honest enough to post a story about a kid in Kentucky narcing on his parents (51 and 36, respectively) for growing, smoking, selling and probably flossing with several large, mellow ganja weeds. Oh, and having cocaine around the house. Let that be a lesson to the rest of you: never trust your children. Ever.

Cheney = Firearms Violation

Something about that Dick Cheney story didn't sit right with me all day. At the office everyone was wondering aloud about the report that he basically travels around with a hospital at his side (the doctors, the emergency medical team, the ambulance) -- that part didn't surprise me so much, except perhaps in sheer scope. What bothered me is that it didn't sound like a garden-variety tragic mistake. It sounded like dumb carelessness. Charvakan points out in the comments that "Don't just blast away" is pretty much Rule Number One for gun enthusiasts, even the NRA types who love their pieces so much they name them.

Well, it looks like Cheney violated two things: Rule Number One, which is more of a common-sense unwritten code of the jungle; and a Texas law saying you have to, er, get a hunting permit before you can hunt. (If Dick were really the "experienced hunter" the story says he is, don't you think he would have known that? Ah! He just didn't care!) Which will ultimately cost him more -- a misdemeanor, or shooting a fundraiser in the face? THAT'S the story I'll be following all night if I have to. (On the upside, Texas Parks and Wildlife has satisfied itself that Cheney wasn't abusing drugs when the incident occurred. No word yet on whether they did anything beyond just asking him.)

By the way, the other part of the story that didn't sit right is that the world only found out about the shooting 24 hours after it happened. It didn't sit right, but it didn't surprise me much either.

Good Idea, Handing Dick Cheney a Loaded Shotgun

This is what happens when you go hunting with the Mask of the Red Death. Tell me if I'm wrong in thinking that picture is some smart-ass with AP graphics trying to "illustrate" the story a little.

And You Thought it Was a Dead Language

Just for the curious, this is what it sounded like when people talked about fishing and lousy weather in Norway 800 years ago. And here is where you get to learn even more about that strange and thankfully abortive attempt at a language.

Coming soon: what does it sound like when Luxembourg runs out of Brie?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A New Lost World Discovered in Indonesia

This, by the way, is my 100th post. I'm glad it's about something so incredible.
Minutes after the small team of American, Indonesian and Australian scientists were dropped into a boggy lake bed and set up camp near the mountain range's western summit, they said they encountered a new species of bird — a red-faced and wattled honeyeater.

The next day they saw Berlepsch's Six-wired Bird of Paradise, described by hunters in the 19th century and named for the wires that extend from its head in place of a crest. They watched in amazement as a male bird performed a courtship dance for a female, shaking the long feathers on his head, and later took the first known photograph of the bird.

The scientists said they discovered 20 frog species — including a microhylid frog less than a half-inch long — four new butterfly species, and at least five new types of palms.

Among their most memorable experiences were their encounters with the Long-beaked Echidna, members of the primitive egg-laying group of mammals called the Monotremes, which twice allowed themselves to be picked up and brought to the scientists' camp for observation.

Two Links You Gotta Follow

This is my first political post in a while now, and I'm making it short and sweet.

Arianna Huffington on a Clinton-hater's embrace of Dem. Representative John Murtha.

National Journal on how we know only a few Guantanamo detainees were ever guilty of anything.

Rummy and Exercise

Monday was the Defense Department briefing for the fiscal year 2007 budget request from the White House, and I was Johnny on the spot representing my team. (Which, to be accurate, is just me and my editor. And she lives in Delaware.) So there I was, making small talk with a guy named Sidney from DefenseNet news company (if I remember correctly), who had been "doing this shit for a long time now," and wandering around the Pentagon like a trained seal while our escort made sure we didn't see anything newsworthy on the way to the briefing room. There was a great deal of kibbitzing and meeting up with old friends once we got there, except I don't know anyone in the DOD news business so I had no one to talk to. Thankfully the defense group from my company arrived and I could look like I'd been doing this shit for a long time too, by just chatting about mutual acquaintances until the brass arrived.

Then when the brass arrived, I realized I'd accidently gotten a good seat. And I was literally three rows away from Donald Rumsfeld, standing up there at the podium, pretty much looking like Darth Vader without the helmet.

It was a totally surreal experience, I don't have to tell you. There he was, chopping the air, making funny motions with his hands, grinning like a sinister cat, making jokes with the Reuters guy and acting like it was no big deal that I was in the room with him when he knew very well I would have liked to take him in hand him if only I had the authority. My thankless job was to ask about the DOD environmental remediation budget. This wasn't at the top of the agenda, apparently, and I never got an answer, either from Rummy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Peter Pace (I have never seen such a highly decorated uniform in real life, by the way -- TV doesn't convey half the frippery this guy was sporting), DOD Comptroller Tina Jonas (with whom I once, fruitlessly, tried to get an interview) or this useless, out-to-pasture "Admiral" named something Channick. I went to the breakout sessions of the individual services' budgets only to struggle through the arduous process of getting the briefing booklets that would give me all the answers I needed without dealing with any professional military weirdos. (True story: one very nerdy guy with thick glasses kept ineptly trying to stage-manage the Army briefing and scolded reporters for not stating their name and publication before asking a question. When it was nearly over, the reporters broke off and chased down individual Army representatives in the room to ask their more detailed questions. One conversation went on longer than nerdy thought it should, and he walked over to the Army commentator, put his arms around the guy and said "Okay, time for you to go now." The Army guy replied: "You need to take your hands off me." Like I said, true story.)

Basically the whole thing was a bust, except I got broad numbers for the services' environmental protection budgets. Trust me, you don't want to hear how low they are.

The point is that Tuesday everything I'd been moving towards finally clicked into place. I rode my bike to work for the first time, I made my own lunch (thereby not paying the ungodly amount they charge for a sandwich in this town), I worked out at the gym where I just got a membership -- although it was a bit of an odd session, in which I mostly tried to teach Trevor to play racquetball before going on the challenge court with the big boys and cleaning some serious house -- and rode my bike home again. I can't imagine what the temperature was. I was wearing my heavy jacket and my workout clothes, which means shorts. It felt peachy.

Later I had to rummage through my roommate's desk, find her spare key and pick her up in Crystal City because she missed the bus. Her call interrupted my dinner preparation and I forgot to turn off the stove. We came home to the smell of burning. Don't worry, it was only the leftovers on the bottom of the pan. It was almost kind of fun.

You know, I should really finish that bottle of Haut-Medoc I've kept stoppered the last few weeks. It tastes divine. Maybe I'll wait until I'm in a more literary mood instead of wasting it on a work night.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Dedication to my Whole Crew

As with most entry titles, this one has a bit of life to it beyond the bare descriptory magic of the words. It's the first line of a song by Digable Planets that the rest of you will never hear because it's only on the hard-to-find career retrospective. I have it. All the songs rhyme.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who posts comments here. The place has been sort of a messy room lately -- where it started out with a clean slate and a pretty clear mission statement, as usual it quickly became cluttered with detritus. When you come across something interesting you lost under a pile of crud, that should remind you of the lovable disorganization of Lapplander.

By the way, when you post a comment, an angel gets its wings. So thank you from the Big Man. He just wanted me to pass the message along, much as Pat Robertson just wants us to know Hugo Chavez is the devil.