Saturday, March 25, 2006


I remember sitting in the kitchen once with my father, watching television, and watching a figure skater spinning on the ice. It might have been ABC Wide World of Sports (in the mid-seventies). My dad turned to me with a confident smile, gestured towards the skater, and said, "I can do that!" I'm afraid my skepticism shone through: "YOU can do THAT?" "Yes," my dad said "if you try hard enough, you can do anything!" "R-I-G-H-T," I replied.

In February, 1993, I vowed that I'd be doing the splits by September, 1993. Still working on it! Maybe I should have tried figure skating???

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Dancer's Life

Cruel fate:
A Miami-based dancer is suing the owners and producers of the Broadway musical "Movin' Out" for more than $100 million in damages on grounds that she was emotionally abused and fired after her breasts grew too large for her costumes.

Real old!:
A tortoise brought as a present for Clive of India had died in a zoo at the venerable age of 255.

... For many years the tortoise had been living in a zoo in the east Indian city of Kolkata, where it was one of the star attractions. It died after a string of illnesses, said Subir Chowdhury, the Kolkata Zoo director.

... The average lifespan of an Aldabra tortoise is well beyond 100 years, according to the website of the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas.

Most of the tortoises are found on Aldabra, an atoll of four large coral islands in the Indian Ocean. The atoll has been protected from human influence and is home to some 152,000 giant tortoises, the world’s largest population of the animal, according to the United Nations world heritage body.
Masquerading As A Lobbyist

Funny! (via David Sirota):
A few minutes later I was talking to a lobbyist and her schoolteacher husband, who were hanging around the periphery of the party. I spilled a very long spiel about our Grand Canyon project, railing against government regulation. The husband joined me in being angry about the obstacles.

"The thing is, you come up with something like that, the first thing they'll say is [here he changed his voice to a high-pitched whine] 'Oh, the animals, the animals!' ******* New York liberals!"
Martian Rover 'Spirit'

Loses power to a wheel. 'Spirit' is suffering from low power in general, because Martian winter is approaching and the solar panels are picking up less and less sunlight every day. Rolling into the sunset, bit by bit, but still rolling, and still generating data!
While driving eastward toward the northwestern flank of "McCool Hill," the wheels of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit churned up the largest amount of bright soil discovered so far in the mission.

... A few days earlier, Spirit's wheels unearthed a small patch of light-toned material informally named "Tyrone." In images from Spirit's panoramic camera, "Tyrone" strongly resembled both "Arad" and "Paso Robles," two patches of light-toned soils discovered earlier in the mission. ... Spirit's instruments confirmed that those soils had a salty chemistry dominated by iron-bearing sulfates. Spirit's miniature thermal emission spectrometer is analyzing this most recent discovery, and researchers will compare it with those other deposits.

These discoveries indicate that light-toned soil deposits might be widely distributed on the flanks and valley floors of the "Columbia Hills" region in Gusev Crater on Mars. The salts may record the past presence of water, as they are easily mobilized and concentrated in liquid solution.
For months, people were quietly heartbroken that 'Spirit' was set amid what appeared to be exclusively volcanic plains. Once in the Columbia Hills, and with these sort of discoveries, 'Spirit' was able to redeem itself, and confirm what people had long suspected, that Gusev Crater had once, many eons ago, seen at least some water.
Here Come The Divorce Lawyers

So many white-collar jobs can be off-shored (Update: sorry, 56 million American jobs, not 56 American jobs, like I first wrote), that only either specialization will save us:
Since education as such won't save us, Blinder recommends a kind of particularized vocational ed. We will have to specialize more, he writes, "in the delivery of services where personal presence is either imperative or highly beneficial. Thus, the U.S. workforce of the future will likely have more divorce lawyers and fewer attorneys who write routine contracts." Now, there's a prospect to galvanize a nation.
or some strategic legwork:

  • We need to entice industry to invest at home by having the government and our public-and union-controlled pension funds upgrade the infrastructure and invest in energy efficiency and worker training.
  • We need to unionize and upgrade the skills of the nearly 50 million private-sector workers in health care, transportation, construction, retail, restaurants and the like whose jobs can't be shipped abroad.
  • And, if America is to survive American capitalism in the age of globalization, we need to alter the composition of our corporate boards so that employee and public representatives can limit the offshoring of our economy.
These days, we don't do strategy. Thus here come the divorce lawyers!
Falling For The Bait

Evo Morales, the President of Bolivia, decided to launch a cheap shot at the U.S. Government regarding our policy on terrorism (and by extension, our policy on coca cultivation), following the recent bombings alleged to have been masterminded by Californian Jay Amero in La Paz, Bolivia. Hugo Chavez of Venezuela also likes to use these kind of cheap shots. And why not? The U.S. Government falls for the bait every time!
President Evo Morales denounced the bombings as attacks on Bolivia's democracy.

"This American was putting bombs in hotels," Morales said Wednesday. "The U.S. government fights terrorism, and they send us terrorists."

Morales comments prompted an equally emphatic response from the U.S. State Department, which said the Bolivian leader's remark harmed their governments' efforts to cooperate against terrorism.

"Declarations such as these impede our efforts and block our capacity to cooperate" in anti-terrorism efforts, the U.S. Embassy in La Paz said in a statement Thursday.

In Washington, Thomas Shannon, assistant U.S. secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said he was "surprised" by Morales's comments.

Shannon said Washington had expressed its concern over the comments to Bolivia's government, according to his spokesman Eric Watnik.

Morales strongly opposes U.S.-led efforts to eliminate cultivation in Bolivia of coca, the main ingredient used to make cocaine. Coca also has traditional uses by Bolivia's Indian. Morales' close ties with Cuban President Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have also strained relations with Washington.
Instead of taking the high road and carefully defending the right of all civilized societies to protect themselves against terrorist actions, the U.S. Government fired right back at Morales. Not the best of game plans. Why not state that the U.S. deplores the bombings, and that the U.S. Government will do anything in its power to assist the Bolivians, rather than state that its capacity to cooperate with the Bolivians is now blocked?

In their dumbing down of the Associated Press story, this morning's Sacramento Bee, Houston Chronicle, and I'm sure other newspapers, characterize the U.S. Goverment's statement as if the U.S. Government - the U.S. Government alone - defines what violent actions do - and don't - constitute terrorism.
The bombings Tuesday and Wednesday were denounced as "terrorist" by an angry President Evo Morales, prompting an emphatic response Thursday from the U.S. State Department, which said the Bolivian leader's remarks harmed efforts to cooperate against terrorism.
Whatever one might say about Morales' cheap shot, however, it seems pretty clear that these bombings (foreigners bombing civilian facilities for obscure purposes) qualify as terrorist actions. By attacking Morales, however, the U.S. Government seems to be indirectly defending the right of renegade, self-professed American Wiccans to murder Bolivians at random. And we wonder, sometimes, why our reputation suffers in the rest of the world?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Missouri Teen Survives Tornado Trip

Didn't end up in Oz, though:
When he came to, Suter found himself in a soft, grassy pasture. Last week a global positioning satellite device used by National Weather Service meteorologist Dave Gaede measured the distance at 1,307 feet from the trailer site.
Elephant Can't Remember Jack From Week To Week

How many times does the Bush Administration have to be hit across the forehead with a baseball bat to get a clue?:
In the aftermath of the Dubai ports dispute, the Bush administration is hiring a Hong Kong conglomerate to help detect nuclear materials inside cargo passing through the Bahamas to the United States and elsewhere.

The administration acknowledges the no-bid contract with Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. represents the first time a foreign company will be involved in running a sophisticated U.S. radiation detector at an overseas port without American customs agents present.
Red vs. Blue, and Maybe a Success For The DLC Formula

If you look at a map of the electoral vote for the 1900 U.S. Presidential election, and compare it to a 2000 electoral-vote map, a striking jiu-jitsu flip reversal becomes apparent. In the 1900 election, Republicans took the Northeast, the West Coast and the Northern Plains, and the Democrats the South and Rocky Mountain states, and in the 2000 election, the pattern is close to the mirror opposite. The two parties spent the entire century opportunistically encroaching on each other's turf: sort-of like Mad Magazine's Spy vs. Spy.

The opportunistic attacks continue every day, of course, as the new century grinds on.

The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC: from which Bill Clinton emerged) favored catering to business interests, in the hope of breaking the Republican advantage on corporate and small business campaign donations. Liberals have been exasperated by this strategy, because it has prevented Democrats from creating a coherent political message, to clarify the political contrast with the Republican Party. Still, the DLC approach always had some potential, usually unrealized, but generally only if the Republicans actively blundered, and started promoting business-hostile politics.

This election cycle, many Republicans have favored a focus on illegal immigration. In a post 9/11 environment, it looks to many Republicans like a winning issue. A battle against illegal immigration can energize the Republican faithful, and it's also pertinent, with a large influx of illegals into the U.S., particularly Mexicans, and particularly in the South. I was reading somewhere that Mexicans compose about 30% (!!!) of the current population of rebuilding New Orleans.

But it's also a very dangerous issue for Republicans, because Americans are so, so, so hypocritical about illegal immigration. Closed-border ideologues seem to have no qualms at all about hiring illegals to prune the shrubbery. The reigning attitude, when hiring any Mexican is: 'don't ask, don't tell.'

So, I was struck by this story in today's Sacramento Bee regarding landscape contractors in Washington. To me, the DLC's vision, often unrealized, might actually work this election cycle. But it only works because Republicans are actively blundering - just like Spy-vs.-Spy!:
Ten California landscape business owners met with legislators this month in Washington, and three of them - all Republican voters - said Wednesday they were surprised that the lawmakers were not more sympathetic.

"I was most shocked at the Republican Party being against small business," said Cynthia Smallwood, who runs Diversified Landscape Management in Mission Viejo.

"They don't get that there is a labor shortage," she said, explaining that even with wages running up to $35 an hour for public contract work, she can't attract a lot of U.S. citizens.

Cathy Gurney, owner of Sierra Landscape and Maintenance, also complained of being snubbed by Republicans. "I can't believe I put this party in power," she said. "The Democrats get it. They took time with us."

Peter Dufau, who runs an Oxnard landscaping business, said he believes congressional representatives in his party aren't listening to businesses.

"It seems they are listening to a bunch of people who have the time to go out and sit in the desert, like the, quote, unquote, Minutemen," Dufau said, referring to a group that conducts self-styled patrols on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Went To The Dentist

I like going to the dentist. My mother took particular care, during my first visits to the dentist, to make it a fun, happy experience. Dr. Ray was a happy gregarious man. They had 'Highlights' Magazine there, and jigsaw puzzles. Procedures were carefully explained.

Going to the dentist is still a fun time, because Dr. Woo (former Miss San Francisco Chinatown 1986) is gregarious, and they have 'People' Magazine there, and jigsaw puzzles.

Quite unlike the careless way my father introduced me, as a kid, to the barber's chamber of unique horrors, like razors and shaving cream and tall, tall chairs.

Anyway, there's a temporary crown in there, so no sticky, chewy, crunchy food for a month (since that's all I ever eat, it looks like it's time for diet again!) And after three shots worth of painkiller, I won't be winning any diction contests this afternoon: 'De Raiw, Iw Spaiw, Sways Maiwly Iw De Plaiw.'

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Join The Dark Side

I still believe we will all eventually become Goth. It's the only youthful stance that makes any sense these days. And, come on, "Razed in Black" - need I say more?

Passing through Las Vegas Paris' casino for 45 minutes last December 27th, I spotted a young Goth, dazed with either wonder or contempt, meandering through the mid-morning crowd of svelte Asian tourists waking up after a long night. I think she was the only incorruptible person in the entire establishment!:
"Most youth subcultures encourage people to drop out of school and do illegal things," she says. "Most goths are well educated, however. They hardly ever drop out and are often the best pupils. The subculture encourages interest in classical education, especially the arts. I'd say goths are more likely to make careers in web design, computer programming ... even journalism."

... Visitors to the Archangel dental surgery in west London are confronted by a goth dentist, Didier Goalard, who says: "I've got goth friends who are doing quite well. There's a dentist in Lyon, a couple of solicitors, a Church of England priest."

... According to Choque Hosein, formerly of goth band Salvation but now running a record label, "Goths tend to be the weirdo intellectual kids who have started to view the world differently." Cathi Unsworth is now a successful author, but she remembers that her own dark gothic past gave her an outlet for alienation. "I loved the bands, especially Siouxsie and the Banshees, but it wasn't a pose - I felt authentically depressed," she says. Unsworth was a teenager in Great Yarmouth, where she felt that "people didn't like me. It got to a point where I wanted to stop fighting against being different and embrace it."

... It could be tough, but being a goth can open up a world where art, current affairs and literature are embraced and openly discussed, perhaps paving the way for future networking. Unsworth remembers debates about "current affairs, Oscar Wilde, decadence, hairspray ..." "There was a lot of Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker," remembers Porter. "It was better than the Sun." For Hosein, it was Quentin Crisp and "The Day of the Triffids. Anything involving horror and death."

... Indeed, there is a certain dry humour about goth that is often overlooked amid tales of black-clad youths worshipping Satan and, in one case, carrying out the Columbine massacre. "That wasn't goths," insists Brill. "The guys who did it always wore black trench coats but they listened to Marilyn Manson. There's an academic article: Why Marilyn Manson Isn't Goth." Brill insists that goth is a non-violent subculture. "They're like hippies. I don't know any goths who are into graveyard destruction or cat slaughtering. They like their graveyards and they love their cats."
Whiny Conservatives, Self-Reliant Liberals

The conclusions of this study seemed self-evident to me, at first:
Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right.
Until they cited the correlation coefficient:
For instance, there was a .27 correlation between being self-reliant in nursery school and being a liberal as an adult. Another way of saying it is that self-reliance predicts statistically about 7 per cent of the variance between kids who became liberal and those who became conservative.
Boy - 0.27! My experience is that any correlation coefficient less than 0.80 borders on crap, and that anything less than 0.50 IS crap! It's possible to get better correlation coefficients by throwing darts blindfolded. So, this statement seems sound:
"I found it to be biased, shoddy work, poor science at best," he said of the Block study. He thinks insecure, defensive, rigid people can as easily gravitate to left-wing ideologies as right-wing ones. He suspects that in Communist China, those kinds of people would likely become fervid party members.
These questions also seem viable:
The results do raise some obvious questions. Are nursery school teachers in the conservative heartland cursed with classes filled with little proto-conservative whiners?

Or does an insecure little boy raised in Idaho or Alberta surrounded by conservatives turn instead to liberalism?

Or do the whiny kids grow up conservative along with the majority of their more confident peers, while only the kids with poor impulse control turn liberal?
Not scientific, but fun, silly stuff for a tedious Wednesday! I found this snarky blogpost from Smirking Chimp irresistible!
Regarding the study reported in the Toronto Star showing that the whiny kid who was always complaining how something wasn't fair probably grew up to be conservative, National Review's Jonah Goldberg whines that the study isn't fair.
Sympathy For The Thunder Lizard

Here's a news story that suggests dinosaurs couldn't get good sleep, and thus went extinct, because they were worried about climate change. That's it! Global warming or not, I'm nodding off irregardless:
THEIR sudden demise millions of years ago has been blamed on everything from huge volcanoes and apocalyptic tsunamis to giant meteor impacts, even alien invasions.

But could it be dinosaurs became extinct simply because they didn't get the right kind of sleep? Researchers claim the creatures' sleeping style meant they could not adapt to their changing environment, leaving them unable to cope with freak climate changes.

Most animals and birds enjoy two different types of slumber - rapid eye movement (REM) and "slow-wave" sleep. Scientists believe slow-wave sleeping patterns allow the brain to carry out important functions that improve the way it works. However, reptiles have only REM sleep, so they cannot develop their ability to respond to change.

... "Unlike mammals, reptiles do not have the cognitive abilities to experience slow-wave sleep, and slow-wave sleep is important as arguably it helps a creature perform new tasks and improve its memory."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Cold War Bomb Shelter

The re-discovery of this civil defense shelter made me nostalgic:
Workers inspecting the structural foundations of the Brooklyn Bridge uncovered a Cold War-era trove of basic provisions that were stockpiled amid fears of a nuclear attack.

The stash, discovered in a vault under an entrance ramp, includes water drums, canisters of calorie-packed crackers, paper blankets, medical supplies and drugs that were used to treat shock.

The estimated 350,000 Civil Defense All-Purpose Survival Crackers are apparently still intact, said Joseph Vaccaro, a supervisor at the city Transportation Department. The metal water drums, each labeled "reuse as a commode," did not fare as well -- they're now empty.

... "It's kind of unusual to find (a shelter) fully intact -- one that is rediscovered, almost in an archaeological sense."
I remember dinner table conversation in the early sixties, when I was a first-grader, and when my father was making grandiose plans to build a state-of-the-art atomic bomb shelter. Lo and behold, one day after returning home from school I went behind my house, and Voila!: my father was busy as a beaver digging a big hole in the back yard! Apparently it was the Cuban Missile Crisis, and he was going to make a insta-shelter for the entire family unit. I felt happier when he relented to my demand that our dog Pepper be allowed into the shelter as well.

To my surprise, the hurried project was abandoned just a few days later, when the Missile Crisis passed. Over the next decade, the big hole became a children's fort, as well as handy source of mud clods for our incessant clod wars with the kids up the hill. The clunky water tanks lasted longer, and took up lots of garage space for years. The brand-new portable radio later became a prized possession, in the late 60's, when I discovered how readily it would pick up AM radio signals from distant cities like LA, Des Moines, St. Paul, and Dallas. Indeed, when DMTC needed a period, or near-period, radio prop in 2003, for "Grease" (for Amber Jean Moore's rendition of "It's Raining On Prom Night"), that portable radio came in very handy. And it's all because of the Cold War!
Two More Nights!

See "Ballets Russes" while it's still here!
Ursula Andress Turns 70

Interestingly enough, that wasn't big enough news for the Swiss, so, to give the event more oompphhh, they coupled it with the opening of a consulate:
"We are celebrating the birthday of our biggest Hollywood star; we don't have that many of them," he told swissinfo.

He added that the party was timed to coincide with the opening of Switzerland's first general consulate in Scotland.
Remembrance - Jane Katherine Arthur

(Left) A metaphorical painting Katherine favored, illustrating the perfect bond between a man and a woman.

You never know when the past becomes genuinely past, when it becomes irretrievable. These pictures are just a few years old, but death is attempting to wrench away from memory my life with Katherine. Not yet! Not just yet......

Katherine and Sparky.

Springtime on 40th Street.

Persia Nelson and Katherine Arthur, Christmas, 1994.

Helga Frank and Katherine - friends!

Persia Nelson, Kashi Albertsen, Alex Samans: Katherine's children.

Katherine at Taos Pueblo, New Mexico, 1995.

Shopping with Katherine, Madrid, New Mexico, 1995.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Special "Aladdin, Jr." Performance, For The Rumsey School

From DMTC:

Welcome to Agrabah, City of Enchantment, where every beggar has a story and every camel has a tail! DMTC’s Young Performers Theater Division and Wells Fargo Bank present Disney’s Aladdin, Junior. The show is directed and choreographed by Jan Isaacson with musical direction by Erik Daniells. Last performance for Disney’s Aladdin, Jr. is: Thursday, March 23, 2006 at 2:00 pm. Tickets are $3 all ages. The performance is at the Hoblit Performing Arts Center, 607 Peña Drive, Davis, CA.

All of your favorite characters are here in this stage adaptation of the Disney hit, including Aladdin, Jasmine, and of course, the Genie. Filled with magic, mayhem, and flying carpet rides. Most of all, the tuneful, Academy award-winning score with songs including "A Whole New World" and "A Friend Like Me."

Shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred, shred - damn! broke the shredder!
"Titanic" Closing - And The Tilting Stage Breaks!

(Left) A cracked, upstage supporting timber. Cracking wood was heard in the same general area where cracking was heard just prior to the start of the performance run, four weeks ago. Sunday's cracks were apparently merely a continuation of that process.

HMS Titanic did break in half as it sank, didn't it?

We closed "Titanic - The Musical" at DMTC on Sunday, March 19, 2006. And the worst-case calamity we had occasionally feared finally occurred. On the very last performance, the tilting stage broke!

In its three, fixed, tilted positions, the stage was designed to be supported by wooden blocks. The cause of stage failure appears to have been operator error: a designated cast member failed to place a block on the upstage side of the tilting stage. When people filed onto the (unsupported) tilted stage for the "To The Lifeboats" scene, two ominous, very loud cracks signalled a mechanical demise to Set Designer Michael McElroy's vision, about half an hour before its scheduled time. Fortunately (and as anticipated), this kind of support failure did not signal the threat of bodily injury. Still, and very suddenly, the cast was faced with a very different kind of show!

The curtain was not opened as usual for "To The Lifeboats." Instead the upstage cast members scrambled off the tilted stage and joined the downstage cast members in front of the closed curtain. The staged lifeboat mob scene then quickly evolved into something like a real mob scene, where there was so much pushing and shoving that we were in danger of stumbling and falling (I believe I stepped on Hal Wright's foot during this scene, and apparently Lauren Miller felt she had to rebuke others in her vicinity). Charles (Henry Holloway) almost didn't make it out of the scrum to briefly rejoin Caroline Neville (Jill Wright) for their brief downstage moment. J.P. Villa was so rattled by the turn of events that he forgot to come onstage for the scene immediately following, requiring us to improvise in his absence.

Michael McElroy was able to do his solo scene, "Mr. Andrew's Vision," with the sagging stage more-or-less stuck in "To The Lifeboats" position, but most importantly, for visual purposes, the scene was done with the curtain open. Once the curtain was closed again, oddly enough, there were difficulties lowering the stage: we nearly had to improvise a finale with the curtain closed. But we muddled through, in the best tradition of the British maritime industry, and were able to open the curtain for the finale after all. Some audience members even granted us a standing ovation!

The moral of Sunday's adventure was easy to learn: Focus, focus, focus!

The show itself was fun. We had a silly time in the dressing room. Alex Powell (I believe facetiously) sang the merits of America's favorite tune, "My Humps," by the Black-Eyed Peas:
What you gon' do with all that junk?
All that junk inside your trunk?
I'ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.
My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump,
My hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely little lumps. (Check it out)
I suggested that all musical tunes from all genres should sound something like "My Humps:" Alex suggested Mozartian arrangements, but others are certainly feasible: ragtime arrangements, lounge arrangements, etc. Later, apropos of what, I don't remember, Andrew Lemons enthusiastically stated that he was a musician. A musician only capable of playing "My Humps," I averred. The idea of any musician being capable of only playing this one (catchy, but somewhat limited) song seemed inherently funny on its face!

Then, a long, tedious, and not even necessarily complete process of striking the set!

Backstage at intermission: Robert Coverdell and Bethany Pederson.

Josh Smith discovers stage 'bling' during strike. Background left, Alex Powell. Next to Josh, Julia Spangler. Background right, Steven Ross.

Despite Scott's shoulder rub, this odd conclave of DMTC's 'utes' signals a strike decision-making process. (Scott Griffith, Lauren Miller, Alex Powell, Kristi Avila, Jabriel Shelton, Julia Spangler)

After strike, Steve's Pizza! (Gail Lampinen, Lauren Miller, Steven Ross, Emily Beal, Scott Griffith)

Rube! Dupe!

Gabe thinks it's funny that Snopes fooled me:

Gabe: Rube! Dupe!

Marc: LIES! Damn it! LIES!

Gabe: Yes, the man slipping on the banana peel is just plain funny!


Gabe: By the way, have I told you about the weapons of mass destruction that are hidden...

Marc: LIES!

Gabe: [This Mr. Ed story] is hilarious!

Marc: LIES!

Gabe: [Mr. Ed says]: "Maybe I didn't go to college, but I'm not stupid!"

Marc: LIES!
The Future of Porn

His love of garlic is really twisted:
A 75-year-old grandfather has become the newest star of Russia's growing porn industry, after wandering on to a film set by mistake, thinking it was a muscle man show.
It's Tough To Be An Immigrant

The old days were better, though:
But, compared with what many immigrants face today, Ellis Island was a pretty benign system. The majority of people were admitted. Until 1924, there were no quotas. The huddled masses were welcomed to the island with decent meals, cups of milk for the children, physical exams, showers, blankets, and some rudimentary explanations of how things worked in the new land.

In best Progressive Era fashion, inspectors sought to exclude people who they thought had been recruited by unscrupulous labor contractors. It was a time of massive citizenship education. Immigrants were seen as future citizens, not just cheap workers.

As a consequence, most foreign-born people quickly became part of American democracy, and its most enthusiastic champions. They participated. They voted. Soon, they made amazing economic and cultural contributions.

Today 12 million immigrants, mostly poor, are outside our democratic system. The obsession with terrorism, ineptly administered, has played havoc with cultural and scientific exchanges and admissions of foreign students. Even legal entrants can face political hazings, as well as denial of social benefits.
San Diego Union-Tribune, and John Doolittle

Can't rely on the timid Sacramento Bee for this stuff! The San Diego Union-Tribune, looking for California Congressmen in the same ethics pickle as San Diego's Duke Cunningham, is focusing on Placer County's own John Doolittle!
Snopes Just Too Damn Complacent

In response to my complaint regarding their false Titanic story, Snopes makes clear that they have the story there to keep people on their toes and to keep people in a state of skeptical tension.

All very and fine, except that Snopes didn't merely repeat a story, but actually created a false D.W. Griffith Web Page to lend added authority to the story. That is no longer a case of False Authority Syndrome, but rather a case of Malicious False Authority. Snopes can't escape culpability!!!!
Queensland Calamity

Cyclone Larry hits:
March 20,2006 | CAIRNS, Australia -- Metal roofs littered streets, wooden houses lay in splinters and banana plantations were stripped bare after the most powerful cyclone to hit Australia in three decades lashed the country's eastern coast Monday.

Amazingly, the storm caused no reported fatalities, and only 30 people suffered minor injuries. But the damage from Cyclone Larry, a Category 5 storm with winds up to 180 mph, was expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Hardest hit was Innisfail, a farming city of 8,500 people 60 miles south of the tourist city of Cairns in northeastern Queensland state.

"It looks like an atomic bomb hit the place," Innisfail mayor Neil Clarke told Australian television. "It is severe damage. This is more than a local disaster, this is a national disaster."

... The casualty toll was so low because people left town or went to shelters after authorities posted warnings. Residents and officials were mindful of the damage Hurricane Katrina did to New Orleans and Mississippi last August, said Ben Creagh, a spokesman for Queensland state Department of Emergency Services.

"Everyone here studied Katrina and took a lot of messages away, a lot of lessons at the expense of the poor old Yanks," Creagh said. "There was absolutely no complacency at the planning level at all, and I think that shows. ... Good planning, a bit of luck -- we've dodged a bullet."