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Archive for August, 2005

Update From The Ironic Nickname Department

August 23rd, 2005 by olly

SUV bomber Jeff “Free” Luers has adopted a new defense strategy: it involves the cultivation of an eerie resemblance to Tobey Maguire. Caption suggestions welcome at the usual address.

His is an interesting case. On the one hand, 22 years is a hell of a long time. On the other, given the attitude displayed by Luers and his supporters (randomly chosen statement: “The fire Free was convicted of setting was an act of compassion…”) it’s hard to see how a judge could reasonably do anything other than recommend the maximum possible sentence – even without the mandatory minimum sentences imposed under state law. The question is whether it would be have been an ideological betrayal for him to, perhaps, acknowledge that he did something bad and take a plea bargain – thereby getting out of prison a couple of decades sooner, as did his co-bomber “Critter” – or whether the insistence on his own righteousness is that integral a part of the theater.

In the meantime, though, be sure to check out his poetry.

Robertson Now Averaging One Of These Statements Every Six Months

August 23rd, 2005 by olly

Silly season continues at high velocity, as sclerotic Yoda impersonator Pat Robertson weighs in on Venezuelan politics. You have to hand it to him: one valid way of curing Chavez’ apparent paranoia is to actually try to assassinate him.

Some saner commentary on Venezuela and Chavez – who is, let us not be mistaken, an even worse person than Pat Robertson – here, and here. In a just world, Hutton would be banking some of (say) Ted Rall’s syndication dollars.

Longer, less funny, but nevertheless gripping stuff for (say) law students who might need something to peruse during their afternoon lectures here. (PDF link.)


August 22nd, 2005 by danimal

From the BBC wire:

Canada sends navy to Arctic north

Canada is sending its navy back to the far northern Arctic port of Churchill after a 30-year absence.

The move follows a spat between Canada and Denmark, over a square kilometre of uninhabited rock called Hans Island in the eastern Arctic.

A visit there by Canada’s defence minister last month angered the Danes.

Now two Canadian warships, the Shawinigan and the Glace Bay, are on a mission to display what Canada calls its territorial sovereignty over parts of the Arctic it believes are within its borders.

Oh, hoser, hoser, hoser
We don’t have to escalate . . .

Time will tell whether Denmark takes this as a causus bellum, or just shrugs and goes back to its akwavit. But I wouldn’t want to be Iceland right now, caught between the pass and fell-incensed points of mighty opposites like that.

Do They Get Another Chance To Kick The Football On Appeal?

August 22nd, 2005 by olly

Via Jane Galt, some pained analysis of the anti-Vioxx verdict.

Now, I have no idea whether or not this case was properly decided, and I haven’t read the Merck defense, nor am I competent to do so. Anyway, for all I know, it was a load of nonsense. And yet, and yet, and yet, I defy anyone to read this bit without a chill running down their spine:

Jurors who voted against Merck said much of the science sailed right over their heads. “Whenever Merck was up there, it was like wah, wah, wah,” said juror John Ostrom, imitating the sounds Charlie Brown’s teacher makes in the television cartoon. “We didn’t know what the heck they were talking about.”

More quotes from the WSJ story here.

Costas Refuses to do Holloway Show

August 21st, 2005 by Ian

Well, my respect for Bob Costas has exponentially increased. He apparently decided to not guest host for Larry King when the focus of the show was limited to the Natalee Holloway fiasco. Says the AP:

“I didn’t think the subject matter of Thursday’s show was the kind of broadcast I should be doing,” Costas said in a statement. “I suggested some alternatives but the producers preferred the topics they had chosen. I was fine with that, and respectfully declined to participate.”

The MSM’s obsession with the un-newsworthy Holloway case (and the equally moronic Cindy Sheehan “story”) is bordering on irresponsible. While CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, and other outlets dedicate entire shows to her case, violence and political intrigue continues in Iraq, Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons, Israel engages in a historic pull-out, the federal government continues to recklessly spend money, and a judge waits to be confirmed for the Supreme Court. Granted, these topics get coverage, but it pales in comparison to what the Holloway and Sheehan “stories” get. And anyways, if you want irrelevant stories about people disappearing, then why not follow the stories of Zachary Weston or LaToyia Figueroa?

Oh, and what did Costas miss out on? Take a look for yourself.

Rejected Character Names From Gravity’s Rainbow

August 21st, 2005 by olly

I’d like to take a moment, for once, in appreciation of the hard work and dedication of the spam-mailing community. As part of their ongoing battle to frustrate the University’s Bayesian filters, these pedlars of horse porn and PS3s seem to have made a renewed effort to make their protestations resemble email from actual human beings. With middle initials and everything!

This, I can only suppose, is the reason we are suddenly receiving so much impassioned correspondence from the likes of Torah B. Whosoever, Sported J. Discontinuance, Discontinue B. Tenable and (my personal favorite) Trembling L. Paraphernalia. Put my name down for a dozen of whatever it is you’re selling, Trembles.

Strange Rumblings In Colorado

August 20th, 2005 by olly

Today marks the appropriately elaborate send-off for Hunter S. Thompson. The late writer’s ashes are to be fired from a gigantic cannon modelled on the Gonzo fist. I only hope Norman Mailer doesn’t feel obliged to try and top this.

(As the media descends upon them, it sounds like the residents of Woody Creek are taking the exposure in stride. Best quote:

If you want to print the fact that neighbo[u]rs are shooting at paparazzi, please do. It might save us a little hassle on the day of the event.

In a similar vein, from the Times’ coverage, an unidentified local says:

I never liked the man, thought he was a hippie through and through, but I dont like all the gawping visitors either.

Careful on that pilgrimage, folks.)

UPDATE: Balls. After spending a futile five minutes coming up with an obscure HST piece to reference, I see the one I should have used.

“We Look Forward To Your Participation In This Experiment In Democracy…”

August 19th, 2005 by olly

Heroically undaunted by what happened the last time they tried it – in short, an achin’ world was introduced to Aaron Shakra, and never looked back – the ODE is doing this.

Best of luck to them – either it’s a marvellous smorgasbord of local journalism, or else the Spew section just got a whole lot easier to write. I’ll be tuning in regardless.

“I Was Touched By His Noodly Appendage”

August 18th, 2005 by olly

I’m a few steps behind the curve on this one, but some mention must be made. Mr. Bobby Henderson, currently up the road in Corvallis, has issued a thoroughly reasonable demand to the Kansas School Board.

I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design…

And hilarity ensues. I won’t spoil the details, but be sure not to miss this bit.

Tater Awards Issue Out!

August 15th, 2005 by Ian

It’s finally done. Let the complaining commence!

Bum Advertising Finally a Reality

August 13th, 2005 by Ian

Yes, that’s right kids: “Ignatio J. Peters’ ” dream of a transient-oriented advertising campaign has been realized. A 22-year old former Husky is now employing Seattle-area bums as walking advertisements. Devout readers of the Commentator will recall that the February 26, 2002 issue of the OC contained a commentary suggesting that transients would make good advertising devices:

Instead of sandwich boards, outfit the homeless with sweatshirts,
jackets, t-shirts, dresses, muumuus – any form of clothing,
really – emblazoned with advertising slogans and corporate logos
(“slogos,” if you will). Sandwich boards may be cheaper and
more direct, but the whole idea here is to benefit the homeless,
not the corporations. Realistically speaking, clothing is more
practical than plywood, and typically warmer on those chilly
nights out on the town (which, if you’re homeless, is every

The corporations will pay for everything, from production to
distribution and, in return, they will have their “slogos” prominently
displayed wherever particular people congregate (of
course, in this case, “particular” means “homeless,” and “congregate”
means “lurk”).

Ben Rogovy, the entrepreneur behind the Seattle scheme, unfortunately hasn’t implemented step two of the plan yet:

Now that the homeless are clothed, how can we make sure
that they don’t just hide under their refrigerator boxes and
garbage bags? After all, what good is a billboard if it’s passed
out behind the Methodist church? In order to keep the transients
on their feet, we need to give them a reason to wander the city.
My plan is to establish checkpoints at various locations throughout
the city, stocked with beer and manned by corporate reps
with clipboards. The homeless would wander (stagger? meander?)
throughout the city like mice in a maze, moving from
checkpoint to checkpoint, drinking Pabst out of Dixie cups at
every stop. The homeless can’t just camp out at one or two
checkpoints, though. They have to keep moving. There
will be incentives (more beer, for example) for those industrious
vagabonds who manage to make it to all the checkpoints
in a given city, or for those who make the rounds in
the fastest time.

Hat-tip: former OC Managing Editor and contribution Brandon Oberlin

Beer: Better than a Complete Breakfast

August 13th, 2005 by Michael G.

I thought I’d make my first post about a subject we can all agree on. As an article found on The Inquirer site states, beer really is good for you. Beer is no longer just a good thing to enjoy right after waking up and before going to bed. According to scientists, it protects you from radiation, too!

I’m not sure how much protection I need from radiation, but I’ll be sure to drink a little extra every time. You know, just in case the big bombs start falling on Eugene. Any excuse to drink more beer works for me.

An important bit of advice was in the article, as well: “people should be aware that drinking beer may affect the results of other health exams.”

I’ll try not be too drunk the next time I visit the ol’ doctor.

Update: Comments seem to be working fine for this post. -MG

“Man robs bank, then waits for police”

August 12th, 2005 by Ian

The EPD sent along the following press release today:

A man robbed a bank shortly after opening time this morning, then sat down and waited for police to arrive and arrest him.

On Friday, August 12, 2005, at about 9:25 a.m., 28-year-old Douglas David Rowland of Cottage Grove entered the Washington Mutual Bank at 1100 Willamette Street in downtown Eugene, presented a demand note to a teller, then sat calmly in the lobby and waited for police to arrive.

Rowland was taken into custody by Eugene Police patrol officers, who also ensured that the employees were safe and that there were no other suspicious subjects in the building. The suspect was then transported to City Hall for questioning by detectives. Information about charges will be available later today. The FBI has been notified.

Bill’s guess is that the guy just wanted a hot meal. I really can’t think of another reason, except perhaps a sensible realization that robbing a bank was probably a terrible idea.

Also, comments don’t appear to be working on new posts atm. Yay MT 2.6! Look for an upgrade to MT 3 or (more likely) WordPress in the coming week or two.

The McDonald’s Diet

August 12th, 2005 by Ian

Remember Morgan Spurlock’s ‘Super Size Me‘? Well, a woman in North Carolina recently lost 37 pounds by eating solely at McDonalds for 90 days straight.

So why the radically different results? It’s simple: she was careful with what she ate, indulging in french fries only twice and limiting her intake of calories to 1,400/day.

This country does have an obesity problem, but the way to solve it isn’t through regulations and condemnations of fast food chains. Rather, people must take personal responsibility for their dietary and exercise habits.

Well, that or federally-subsidized liposuction, which at this point I wouldn’t be surprised to see promised during the next Presidential campaign.

President Signs Pork-Laden Transportation Bill

August 10th, 2005 by Ian

President Bush signed a massive, pork-filled $286.4B transportation bill today. According to the AP article, the bill was signed at a Caterpillar plant in Montgomery, Illinois, which is within Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s district.

The bill was widely supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House. This shouldn’t come as a surprise: there is nothing politicians love more than pork, and this bill had it in spades.

Boston Globe Columnist Jeff Jacoby has the best synopsis of the bill that I’ve seen so far:

Huge as the bill was, it wasn’t quite huge enough for Representative Don Young of Alaska, chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. ”It’s not as big as what he’d like,” a committee spokesman said, ”but is still a very good bill and will play a major role in addressing transportation and highway needs.”

One wonders what more Young could have wanted. The bill funnels upward of $941 million to 119 earmarked projects in Alaska, including $223 million for a mile-long bridge linking an island with 50 residents to the town of Ketchikan on the mainland. Another $231 million is earmarked for a new bridge in Anchorage, to be named — this is specified in the legislation — Don Young’s Way. There is $3 million for a film ”about infrastructure that demonstrates advancements in Alaska, the last frontier.” The bill even doffs its cap to Young’s wife, Lu: The House formally called it ”The Transportation Equity Act — a Legacy for Users,” or TEA-LU. [emphasis added]

Christmas didn’t come early just for Alaska. Meander through the bill’s endless line items and you find a remarkable variety of ”highway” projects, many of which have nothing to do with highways: Horse riding facilities in Virginia ($600,000). A snowmobile trail in Vermont ($5.9 million). Parking for New York’s Harlem Hospital ($8 million). A bicycle and pedestrian trail in Tennessee ($532,000). A daycare center and park-and-ride facility in Illinois ($1.25 million). Dust control mitigation for rural Arkansas ($3 million). The National Packard Museum in Ohio ($2.75 million). A historical trolley project in Washington ($200,000). And on and on and on.


Arizona Senator John McCain, who voted no, called the bill a ”monstrosity” and wondered whether it will ever be possible to restore fiscal sanity to Congress. If ”the combination of war, record deficits, and the largest public debt in the country’s history” can’t break lawmakers’ addiction to spending, he asked, what can? ”It would seem that this Congress can weather any storm thrown at it, as long as we have our pork life-saver to cling to.”

How is the blogosphere reacting? Power Line doesn’t dare to mention the bill at all (a serach through the archives reveals nothing.) Of course, this is because Power Line isn’t conservative, it’s Republican.

But while many blogs have yet to post a reaction to the President’s signing of the bill, a Aug. 4th and 5th promoted diary puts it well:

Conservatives owe their loyalty to our principles, not Republicans in Washington – not even those Republicans with whom we know and have worked for and with over the years. We conservatives have an obligation to speak out about how Republicans have betrayed us and what we believe. We need to communicate with our organizations and constituents to make clear that our interests, as conservatives, are being seriously undermined by this new political class: long-serving Republicans in Washington more interested in keeping power than doing right by the Constitution and the American people.

If the Democrats had engaged in this level of wasteful spending, every Conservative in America would be raising their voice. We must not do less when the Republicans act like Democrats, lest we been seen – rightly – as political hacks having no principles, only concerned with power. The price of silence is hypocrisy.

One can only be reminded of 1998 when the Republican Congress – just four years after taking power, went on a similar spending spree – only to watch grassroots activists desert them in November. The GOP lost House seats in the second midterm election of a Democratic President, a failure almost unheard of in American politics.

Indeed. It will be interesting to see how party-line blogs on both sides react. M y guess? Most won’t even mention it.

Does anyone want to make bets on how many total vetoes President Bush will have exercised by the time his second term is up? My money’s on zero.