While you were out

Having a fever is pretty awful. But when the fever is over, the world seems a bit dull. Yeah, maybe it’s ’cause I’m still dizzy and all that, but I still think the world has too many of it’s rough edges burnished off ‘cos someone is bound to sue.
The fever was weird. Being a guy who rarely ever goes to the doctor, I tend to have my own opinions on my health care. In this instance, I told myself that the point of a fever is to kill the virus by heating your body. So, I decided to let it run it’s course. Why waste time trying to stop the fever? It’s helping.
Yikes. I can’t even begin to describe what was happening in my head. I was visualizing a jumble of differently-shaped objects, all intersecting at weird angles. I kept thinking that if I could separate all these things, take them apart, and put them back together correctly, my headache would go away. I was actually laying in bed, alternately hot and cold, sweating and shivering, all the while trying in my mind to disassemble a cosmic Jenga tower. Weird.
So, here’s a few things I missed commenting on while writhing in bed delirious and sweating buckets. (Damn, it sounds like I had much more fun that I actually had.)

Stick a fork in it, it’s done
My first professionally produced DVD is off the presses, literally! I haven’t gotten one yet, but Sara reports that it’s silkscreened and everything! I’m still wary of the whole thing, worried that there will be a problem with the layer transition, or something technical like that. But the plant assures me that if they went ahead and pressed it, then everything is cool. Even though I’ve seen the darned thing about 482 times at this point, I’m still psyched about getting the final disc… woo hoo! (For info on the DVD and ordering, click here.)

Careful, the lawsuit you’re about to file is extremely dumb
From Newsday:

In a case with echoes of a famous suit against McDonald’s, a Glen Cove woman has filed a $10-million claim against Starbucks, alleging she was badly burned by coffee that leaked from the container.

My jaw is hanging open. Did she order ICED coffee? Then what did she expect? Doesn’t every kid learn to handle hot liquids CAREFULLY? The Starbucks cups all say “Careful, the beverage you’re about to enjoy is extremely hot.”

The issue of litigation and hot coffee became famous in 1994 when a New Mexico jury awarded more than $2 million to Stella Liebeck, who was burned by McDonald’s coffee at a drive-through window after she placed the cup between her legs. A judge later reduced the bulk of the award to $480,000, and the case was then settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Nevertheless, it helped fuel a national debate on whether consumer lawsuits were out of control and ought to be restricted.

It’s incredible to me how people do stupid, stupid things, then blame others for it. Placing a hot cup of coffee between your legs is the high of intelligence… unless for some reason you have a fetish for that kind of thing.

Serves me right

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been quietly complaining to myself — a singularly unusual occurrence — about the flu. It’s been the top story on the news, the lack of vaccine has thrown people into a tizzy, and last week when my friend Eric went to the hospital for some kind of severe abdominal pain, he had to wait in agony for 6 hours because the emergency room was filled with flu victims.
My usual opinion of this sort of thing is to scoff — it’s the flu, people. Just rest, get plenty of liquids. Granted, there have been deaths from the flu, and there always will be, generally speaking I think you’ll find that there are usually other things going on that weakened the immune system radically. Fewer people die of the flu then, say, the heat during a Chicago summer. And it’s generally the same people, too.
Anyway. I am a pretty healthy guy so I rarely ever go to a doctor, and since I lead a basically unaccompanied life, with few friends and no dates, I figure that I am not about to start worrying about the flu.
And here I lay in bed right now, with sore muscles, a painful throat, runny nose, and a slightly dizzy head.
Stop laughing.

What’s in a headline?

The Washington Post says: “CBS Gets Interview, Jackson Gets Special”
The New York Times says: “Jackson Says Molestation Charges Are Untrue”
Reuters says: “Michael Jackson Denies Sex Charges in TV Interview”
And the Independent says: “Jackson: ‘Not wrong to sleep with children'”

It’s so easy to sell papers these days, isn’t it?

Did they or didn’t they?

The Mail newspaper (as reported in The Age) is reporting that a suicide attack on a British Airways jet was foiled recently in Saudi Arabia, but that the Saudis are covering it up:

Saudi Arabia has arrested two Islamic suicide pilots who were preparing to fly two light aircraft into a packed British Airways (BA) jet, a British Sunday newspaper said, quoting a senior opposition politician.

The suspected suicide pilots were arrested in the last few weeks after they were found red-handed with aircraft loaded with explosives near Saudi Arabia’s main airport in the capital Riyadh, The Mail on Sunday said.

“My understanding is that they were found on the flight line and that the plan was to fly them into a passenger jet either about to land or take off,” said Patrick Mercer, the opposition Conservative spokesman for Homeland Security, according to the newspaper.

Mercer, who said he had been informed of the plot by an “unimpeachable” source, intended to raise the matter at the House of Commons immediately after MPs returned from their Christmas break on January 5, the newspaper reported.

Mercer claimed, according to the same source, that the Saudi authorities tried to cover up the incident near King Khalid International Airport and withheld information from authorities abroad.

Both BA and the Foreign Office, which said it had checked with “relevant agencies,” were unable to confirm the arrests.

“We never comment on security matters,” a BA spokesman said.

A BA spokesman later said the airline had no knowledge of the incident described in the paper.

“We are in regular contact with the Saudi authorities and the British government and we wouldn’t fly unless it was completely safe to do so,” a spokesman said.

“We haven’t changed our flights to or from Saudi Arabia.”

BA suspended flights to the oil-rich Gulf kingdom in August citing a security threat, but the airline resumed flying the following month after a review. Mercer was not available to elaborate on his remarks and the British Foreign Office said it was not aware of the incident.

This is puzzling. If such a thing did happen, isn’t it likely that Saudi Arabia would trumpet the foiling of a terrorist plot? Wouldn’t the Bush administration be using it for propaganda purposes to show how prescient their terror alert system is, and how helpful the Bush family friends in Saudi Arabia are?
If it’s not true, where did such a story come from, and why?

Can this prisoner stay at your house?

It’s been a while since I mentioned the Governator of California — the man who had so many nice things to say about Gray Davis. Well, he’s certainly taking a different approach, all right. Wanna know one way he’s saving money?
He wants to let criminals out of prison, where they’re costing too much.

Kindel said corrections officials project as many as 25,000 of the state’s 161,000 inmates could be safely released, but he cautioned: “The vast majority of our inmates are in there for serious crimes. Those are not being looked at (for early release) at all.”

The Bee reported Saturday it obtained internal memos showing the administration is considering abolishing parole for nonviolent inmates. The move would save $231 million a year by 2005-06.

That’s certainly less of a burden on the tax payers than a car tax. Whew.

If women ruled the world

Today’s Style Invitational:

Report from Week 534, in which The Czar (remember him? from way back?) invited descriptions of how various institutions would change if they were dominated by women. Remember how he assured you that you didn’t have to worry about a little sexist humor, since, after all, remember who’d be judging the contest?

To those among the shameless who — thinking they were writing for a male judge — sent oh-so-clever time-of-the-month jokes, alas, none of your entries get ink. The Empress does not know why, exactly. Perhaps she is just feeling a little crabby right now, for some reason.

Third runner-up: If a woman ran the United States, we would never declare war. We would just attack, and when the country asked us why, we’d say, “Oh, I think you know why.” (Seth Brown, Williamstown, Mass.)

First runner-up: Homeland security: “The threat level was upgraded today from Mojave Rose to Persimmon Sunset.” (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

And the winner of the Painted Potties decal set: If women ran the porn industry, the climax of the movie would be when the man shouts, “I was wrong!” (Tom McCudden, Durham, N.C.)

Plumbers would go to fix bathrooms in groups. (Kristina Sherry, Annandale)

If women controlled politics, men wouldn’t have elections every time you turn around, and when they did have one, their elections would last much longer. (Russell Beland, Springfield)

Pfizer Corp. would produce little blue pills that make men better listeners. (Josh Borken, Bloomington, Minn.)

The FBI: As long as they’re collecting all that information on everyone’s private life, why not run it through a matchmaking program? (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

Mafia donnas: No cement shoes after Labor Day. (Brendan Beary, Great Mills)

If women took over the Republican Party, we would elect one of the pigs that would be flying. (Seth Brown, Williamstown, Mass.)

It’s good to be the king’s brother

A (creepily) funny article in today’s Washington Post tells of the pluses of being Neil Bush:

When you’re Neil Bush, rich people from all over the world are eager to invest money in your businesses, even though your businesses have a history of crashing and burning in spectacular fashion.

When you’re Neil Bush, you’ll be sitting in a hotel room in Thailand or Hong Kong, minding your own business, when suddenly there’s a knock at the door. You answer it and a comely woman strolls in and has sex with you.

Life sure is fun when you’re Neil Bush, son of one president, brother of another.

Just how much fun was revealed in a deposition taken last March, during Bush’s very nasty divorce battle. Asked by his wife’s attorney whether he’d had any extramarital affairs, Bush told the story of his Asian hotel room escapades.

“Mr. Bush,” said the attorney, Marshall Davis Brown, “you have to admit that it’s a pretty remarkable thing for a man just to go to a hotel room door and open it and have a woman standing there and have sex with her.”

“It was very unusual,” Bush replied.

Actually, it wasn’t that unusual. It happened at least three or four times during Bush’s business trips to Asia, he said: “I don’t remember the exact number.”

And if only it were this easy to be a success in business:

In 2002, for instance, Bush signed a consulting contract with Grace Semiconductor — a Shanghai-based company managed in part by the son of former Chinese president Jiang Zemin. Bush’s contractual duties consist solely of attending board meetings and discussing “business strategies.” For this, he is to be paid $2 million in company stock over five years, plus $10,000 for every board meeting he attends.

“Now, you have absolutely no educational background in semiconductors, do you Mr. Bush?” Brown asked.

“That’s correct,” Bush responded.

Meanwhile, back home in Texas, Bush serves as co-chairman of a company called Crest Investment. Crest, he revealed in the deposition, pays him $60,000 a year to provide “miscellaneous consulting services.”

“Such as?” Brown asked.

“Such as answering phone calls when Jamal Daniel, the other co-chairman, called and asked for advice,” Bush replied.

I guess it’s not news to them

The body of a gay man in Washington, DC was discovered in his apartment in a duffel bag when the land lord came to evict him. The Washington Blade reports:

D.C. police are seeking help from local gay residents in an investigation into the killing of a gay music promoter whose body was found Dec. 9 inside a duffel bag in his Dupont Circle apartment.

United States marshals called police to the apartment of Tymon “Tymex” Birchett, 28, at the State House Apartments, at 2122 Massachusetts Ave., NW, about 3:45 p.m., after they discovered his body while removing his belongings during an eviction, according to a police statement.

A member of the staff of the D.C. medical examiner’s office pronounced Birchett dead on the scene, the police statement said. Two days later, the medical examiner’s office disclosed that he had been strangled and beaten.

The killings of more than a dozen gay men in D.C. over the past decade remain unsolved in cases that police and gay activists refer to as “pickup” murders. In each of these cases, police have said they found the victims dead in their houses or apartments, with no evidence of a forced entry.

I didn’t read this story in the Washington Post. Why?

More Tales of the Wal-Mart

I wonder what happened to that story about the woman who was trampled at Wal-Mart last month? You know, the one who turned out to be a “serial faller?”
Well, never fear — there is a never-ending supply of toothless morons who shop at the altar of low prices and lowest common denominators. Read on.

Matthew Baures loves Christmas, but he learned the hard way that there is very little holiday cheer while waiting in line at a Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve.

The 22-year-old Berwyn man was pummeled with a baseball bat and beaten by as many as four people after a dispute over a place in line at a Forest Park Wal-Mart.

“I couldn’t believe someone would actually do this on Christmas Eve,” Baures said Thursday as he nursed a bruised eye and aching tailbone and ribs.

Although a crowd formed, no one came to their aid, Baures said. But someone did provide police with the license plate number of a light-colored Cadillac in which some of the men fled. Others left in a different car.

Baures said Wal-Mart security did little to either calm the situation in the store or break up the fight in the parking lot. No one answered the store’s phone on Thursday.

Poverty and earthquakes

And while the western world was preoccupied with Russell Crowe’s inability to assemble Swedish furniture, thousands of people were killed in an earthquake in Iran.
At least fifteen thousand at last count. In 1990, thirty-five thousand died in one quake.
Last week’s similar-strength earthquake in California killed two people. Two. My ex in California reported that the water level in his pool was down and his chandelier was broken. So don’t tell me that earthquakes kill people: poverty and lack of education kill people.
Even if that 6.5 quake had hit downtown Los Angeles, there wouldn’t have been a horrific death toll of 15,000. The affluence leads to better buildings. No one dies from shaking ground. They die when the buildings fall.
From the BBC:

Since 1991, tremors have claimed some 17,600 lives and injured 53,000 people, according to official figures.

Reuters reports that there is little modern earthquake education in Iran.

“Most people think that what God wills will happen. This is absolutely wrong. This thinking is poisonous,” Tehran University professor Bahram Akasheh told the news agency.

OK, so they could do a better job of educating people about earthquakes, true. But the knowledge that a quake is a natural phenomenon is hardly going to help them when their homes built of mud are collapsing on top of them.

What can be done? How can the poverty that plagues these parts of the world be eliminated so that they can live in safety?

[The difficulty in estimating tragedy: the BBC says 15,000 dead. UPI says 20,000. AP says 5,000. A Singapore newspaper says 4,000, and in China, they hedge by saying “Several thousand people could be killed in a strong earthquake in southeast Iran on Friday, though the interior ministry still could not confirm the actual death toll.” ]

Russell Crowe has an amazing publicist

For some reason, Russell Crowe still seems to be a guy that fills column inches on a slow news day — I see news articles about him constantly for no good reason. And when I mention him here on this blog, the hits are amazing… as are the comments from people who seem to think he is some kind of god. Anyway, here’s yet another waste of space article about Russell Crowe. This is an actual news article, believe it or not:

Crowe stumped by Ikea cot

Russell Crowe says he couldn’t get his head around an Ikea cot which he’d bought for his baby son.

The actor spent almost an entire day trying to put the bed together before giving up and asking friends to help, says The Sun.

The star’s wife Danielle, 33, gave birth to 6lb 9oz Charles in Sydney on Monday.

Russell said: “The key thingy was impossible to use. I got frustrated because I just couldn’t put the damn thing together.”

Danielle has decorated the baby’s nursery with an Enid Blyton-themed wall mural. Russell said of the nursery: “It’s either going to scare the s**t out of him or have him entranced.”

I also found an article that tells the story of how Crowe took his new wife out for take-away fried chicken. This is very important journalism, folks.