Umm.. Josko... ever see this???
ZING! Alligator Eats Python, Doesn't Explode
Sometimes there really are no winners - as was the case when an unusual clash between a 6ft (1.8m) alligator and a 13ft (3.9m) python left the two lethal predators dead in a Florida swamp.
Startled rangers who found the creatures' remains believe the python tried to swallow its fearsome rival whole, but then exploded - possibly when the alligator clawed at its innards in an attempt to escape.
PS. Don't forget to check out the story about the exploding toads of Hamburg.
How You'll Be Murdered In New York City, 2005 Edition
Let's see... You'll be shot in Brooklyn by a friend or acquaintance between 4 pm and midnight over a drug-related dispute. Both you and your killer have prior arrest records and you're both black.
Don't worry, the same statistics show it's pretty unlikely you'll be asphyxiated by an Asian, female relative over 60 years old in Staten Island between 8 am and 4 pm concerning a sexual assault.
I've noticed #8 in my neighborhood.
When a middle-aged man swore at airline staff after he was refused a drink, he got a sunshine break he had not bargained for
The pilot diverted the charter plane and dumped the troublesome holidaymaker 300 miles from his destination on a barren volcanic island off the west coast of Africa
Follow links for some good discussions of how gameplay is affected when you're interested in another player's results. I think I fold more if I think someone's likely to buy communal scotch with the winnings.
He's almost done!
How did this slip by so quietly 9 days ago?? Our favorite dead man has a new album. Werrrrrd. Track 4 is hot. Is this the final chapter? Or will Puff need some fresh income in 2k6?
Mark of the Beast update
I'll Buy This Issue
UPDATE by Miguel
What did you think of their theory that xenophobia and fear/ dislike of strangers are the keys to robot innovation?
I poop on Christmas
Sorry to dissapoint you, worthy pagans
Limbo bogus. Judgement for all!
"At colleges across the country, 58 women will enroll as freshmen for every 42 men. And as the class of 2010 proceeds toward graduation, the male numbers will dwindle. Because more men than women drop out, the ratio after four years will be 60--40, according to projections by the Department of Education."
Somehow, I don't think that 40% will mind so much ;-D
This fall scientists announced that they had put a half dozen beryllium atoms into a "cat state."
Cute pictures in this New York Times article about the history of superposition and particle synchronicity.
You can help decide.
Note that the next challenge might be for traversal in urban terrain, rather than off-road on a desert.
I wonder if GC 2007 will have IED detection as a necessity to complete the course.
Note that this fills in nicely with the previous automation discussion concerning buses.
No, I'm not stuttering in a drunk stupor after seeing the final tally of the amount of taxes the IRS has taken from me in 2005. I'm referring to the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service. We get an extra second this year, so spend it wisely.
Is it finally starting?
“President Bush secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans and others inside the United States to search for evidence of terrorist activity without the court-approved warrants ordinarily required for domestic spying, according to government officials.”
When the New York Times published its report, President Bush immediately went on the offensive declaring “it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this important program in a time of war.”
"Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done, and I am Caesar."
Not Caesar or Shakespeare, but the words ring true.
Abby got me a hot digital camera for christmas. Here are a few photos.
We have a responsibility to keep up-to-date with the facts, people!
Why the Grinch Stole Christmas
Here, in no particular order, are my theories as to why the MTA chose to shut down the trains on December 20th rather than compensate their workers. Since the deal turned on something worth $20 million over three years, I am presuming that the issue is not money. (For non New York readers, I'll mention that weekend fares have been reduced to $1 for the Holiday Season, thanks to the MTA's current $1,000,000,000 surplus.)
1. The MTA is going to welch on their promise to open the 2nd Avenue subway, and they need a scapegoat. In the 2005 elections, the MTA got a 2.9 billion bond (which I voted for on the New York Times' reccomendation), which was promoted as money to be spent on the 2nd Avenue subway. I've been skeptical of this plan before, and I think in a crisis, we'll all just have to accept that we can't afford this mirage.
2. The MTA is going to fire all the union workers and replace them with temps. This will be extremely expensive, but maybe after this week's ordeal, New York will accept a fare hike so all our English majors in magazine internships don't have to be jealous of the MTA janitor's wages.
3. The high wages offered by the MTA are putting upward pressure on other employers in NYC and, um, hurting the economy. (I think republicans believe things like this.)
4. Upper class strivers, who always have too little money compared to their friends, get angry when others retire - Peter Kalikow's wife would never accept him not working at 55!
5. The MTA wants to keep fares low. (Actually, I put this one at the bottom because I think it's the least likely.) (You know, I think fares should rise in quarter increments, and be tied to economic indicators. But I'll save that proposal for Ivanistan; NYC is never really interested in fantasy politics.)
How the Grinch stole Christmas
The transit strike, the first in a quarter century, began at 3 a.m. Tuesday after negotiations between the union and the transit authority broke down over the authority's last-minute demand that all new transit workers contribute 6 percent of their wages toward their pensions - up from the 2 percent that current workers pay.
The big story of the strike is pretty sad: it's antagonism to the poor, and a beligerent insistence that they ought to be poorer on behalf of everyone else. Mayor Bloomberg, when he goes on television to call the subway workers "selfish," couldn't better live up to the reputation of a billionaire prick. The workers were offered a big fat paycut for Christmas, and for not taking it, they're subject to insult.
A brief summary of the negotiations:
The MTA offers a new contract of lower pay and worse benefits.
The TWU refuses, and requests a few new details (laxer bathroom break rules, for instance).
The MTA offers smaller raises and almost the same benefits.
The TWU considers this and, as far as anyone can tell, prepares to either sign, or postpone striking.
Then, at midnight, the negotiating deadline, the MTA comes back and rescinds their offer. "We screwed up, and need to take 4% more of your wages for the pension plan."
The TWU can't agree to that, and presumably can't negotiate with the MTA, who are either boneheads, or deliberately trying to force a strike before Christmas. A strike is called.
The case for the MTA basically boils down to: we'd rather pay less.
The pension issue is a joke - any stock portfolio is performing badly for the last five years, and to presume that the market is loused forever is pretty dramatic. (Do they know something we don't?)
The "they make what teachers & cops make" is a joke too - I know teachers, and they make the same at 25 as these guys do at 50. Cops in New York have special programs to get OT for standing around in packs of 20; they're doing just fine financially, and I'd love to see the Mayor try to call their union "thuggish" next time he has a hard time negotiating with them.
Ivan would like to replace them all with robots, but of the 33,000, very few are driving trains. (Furthermore, as far as I can tell, even getting the L train robots working is a failure so far - too expensive - and that line has no branching out or express track.) I doubt severely if my Roomba (even 33,000 of them) would help the situation much.
In support of the MTA's position, the Mayor had the gall to accuse the TWU of not having enough feelings of public service. Transit work certainly looks easy - I bought the Post the day they had the cover with the Token guy sleeping at work on it. But it isn't fun. No one's doing it because they love trains, or New Yorkers in a hurry. And those of us who have also slept at work before are lucky we didn't have to work in front of 8 million people who hate us and have phone cams. They're doing it for money, and they're looking forward to retirement. For the MTA to try to cut their wages and then blame them for New York's hassles of this week is bogus.
"Barbie, that plastic icon of girlhood fantasy play, is routinely tortured by children, research has found."
Buy next year’s Christmas gifts next December, not next week.
Make your New Year’s resolutions a little firmer.
Sign a petition: Alan Greenspan to replace Santa Claus.
They feel our pain.
The only good measure of urban densities is the census bureau's "urbanized areas." These include central cities and all of the adjacent land over 1000 people per square mile (which is roughly the limit of the regularly developed suburbs and the exurbs and rural areas beyond). Using this measure the LA urbanized area had a density of over 7,000 people per square mile in 2000 making it at least the densest large urbanized area in the US. In fact, I think it is the densest urbanized area in North America (Toronto comes in at 6800 according to the Canadian census which has a similar definition of urbanized area) but I would want to do some further checking before swearing to that latter.
Do not buy gifts for nieces, nephews or grandchildren.
It’s the thought that counts.
Actually, maybe it’s better if you don’t give anything at all.
"Had a labor accident in the United States? You have rights ... Call,"
I'm surprised how much Mexican officials can get away with. Instead of asking why their people would want to leave their country for work, they complain the US might potentially maybe sorta try to somewhat stop illegal immigration.
But SNL made something funny.
Enemy of Freedom
Reagan and AEI lawyer Bruce Fein opines in today's Washington Times.
President Bush presents a clear and present danger to the rule of law. He cannot be trusted to conduct the war against global terrorism with a decent respect for civil liberties and checks against executive abuses.
The Prez should really back down from his 9-11 made me King routine.
00-18 ward of the state
18-55 ward of the Transport Workers Union
55-75 ward of the state
TWU - because people deserve 20 years of taxpayer funded retirement, and 8 million people should walk in the cold before Christmas to get to work.
Closed shop unions should be illegal under anti-trust laws, ESPECIALLY closed shops for state funded jobs.
Who has the balls to fire these assholes?
Burn your Christmas card list.
Take your children to a good fire-and-brimstone Christmas service – but make it brief.
Establish firm property rights over the TV remote.
Santarchy -- or Santacon as it's also known -- began in San Francisco. In 1994, a man identifying himself as Klaus Maginrannus published his statement of purpose in the Twisted Times:
I need a drink real bad, and I'm hornier than a whole herd of reindeer. Keep your kids away from me. Keep your dog away from me. Me and my friends (30 other loser Santas) just graduated from the Kris Kringle Institute, and now we're gonna paint the town red. And white. And shove jingle bells up its ass! Merry f**king Christmas!
In the 11 years since, the inaugural assault on holiday decency has spread across the country and as far away as Bangkok.
The recent rampage in Auckland, New Zealand is loosely related to "Santarchy" events held by drunken Santas all over the world, but Alex Dyer said his gang is all about chaos and drinking.
"People do Santarchy in other countries, sure, and for them maybe that's their aim, but with us we're just dressing up as Santa and getting drunk. We just like booze."
First, I'm not going to say that the Iraq war isn't bloody. Rather, it blows my mind to think about other conflicts that are orders of magnitude worse that receive far less attention.
Second: "Bosnia ethnic war"? Unlike all those other wars where the ethnicity has nothing to do with the fighting.
The MSM has a problem talking about that war, and I think it relates a lot to the War Nerd's commentary about how journalists don't try to understand certain conflicts, e.g. calling the multitude of African "tribal" wars "senseless".
Third: this graphic is a bit misleading. Who are the civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time, and who are the civilians that were the explicit targets of violence? Further, which side did what?
On A Very Special Installment Of Drink Tank: The Booze-O-Meter
Brought to you by our friends at The Sun: Woman. Imma go drink now, and I'll try to remember my intake and let y'all know mah meterin'.
Mr Blair has insisted that there must be a possibility of farm spending reform before 2013. France opposed that and stuck to a deal, struck in 2002 and agreed by Mr Blair, under which cash for agriculture was fixed until 2013. M. Chirac is likely to point out that France would, in 2009, veto any changes before 2013. The UK is expected to point out that M. Chirac is unlikely to be president in 2009.
Hopes of a deal rose as leaders shied away from the prospect of failing to decide the budget for the second time in six months.
Couldn't help but think of Team America.
10 Funfacts From The BBC
Snippets harvested from the week's news, chopped, sliced and diced for your weekend convenience.
1. Magnetic North is not fixed, but in fact is drifting at such a speed away from northern Canada it could be in Siberia in 50 years.
2. The Body Shop is banned from China where cosmetics have to be tested on animals, says Dame Anita Roddick.
3. Paul McCartney's animal rights activism was inspired by his watching Bambi.
4. Musical instrument shops must pay an annual royalty to cover shoppers who perform a recognisable riff before they buy, thereby making a "public performance".
5. A sound can travel for 200 miles if it is loud enough.
6. Aslan is the Turkish word for lion. (apt, given that the White Witch in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe tempts Edmund to dark side with the offer of Turkish delight).
7. One in 16.66 Britons (6% of the population) is homosexual according to new government figures.
8. Each tank at the Buncefield oil depot housed 700,000 gallons of fuel, enough to take a bus to the Moon and back 12 times.
9. People can train their bodies to heat up, helping them survive longer in icy water.
10. Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia that is compiled and updated by volunteers and has frequently had its accuracy called into question, is about as reliable as the Encyclopedia Britannica, according to a study by Nature.
July 1.69 1100
Sept 2.01 1600
Oct 3.86 2500
Nov 0.18 1900
I think he must have two legs
They do count your legs when you're arrested, right?
A Question For The Ages
Why is it that ancient Greek and Roman paintings, sculptures, and other works of art depict males with such small genitalia? My first thought was that the artists wished to draw the viewer's attention to other, more important, aspects of the work. However, my roommate has pointed out that this treatment has the opposite effect. I really don't think evolution has treated us as kindly as this artwork might lead us to believe. So why the small penises? --Phil, Los Angeles
Phil, it's time we had a little talk about the Greeks.
You remember the Greeks. They were the guys (and it was mostly guys--women at the time were mainly relegated to childbearing and housekeeping or sex objecthood, and were seldom heard from) who pretty much invented what we now think of as Western civilization. Their ideas about culture and society, which the Romans copied, influence us to this day. The Greeks also . . . well, we'll get into a discussion of Greek sexual preferences some other time. For now let's just say they were fascinated by male beauty, and in particular by (ahem) the penis.
The Greeks weren't shy about displaying their manly attributes. Nudity was celebrated in Greece as in no culture before or since. We're so used to nude classical sculpture and painting that we figure that's how everybody walked around back in those days. In fact, however, male nudity in art and among athletes and warriors was largely confined to the ancient Greeks, for whom it became a point of pride--they considered embarrassment at having to disrobe for sports a sign of barbarism. Admiration of the manly form at times verged on the cultlike; the more heroic bits of male sculpture, small penis or no, have an erotic charge that can make even a straight male sweat. Naked women were depicted too, but less often, and you sometimes get the feeling the artist's heart wasn't in it.
The penis shows up in Greek art a lot--big ones as well as small ones. For example, there's the temple of Dionysus on the island of Delos, which features giant stone penises carved in the third century BC. Decapitated now, they're still impressively scaled and in a state of salute. (The academic term describing this condition, incidentally, is ithyphallic.)
Sculptural depictions of the erect penis were an everyday sight in the classical world. A common boundary marker and household totem in ancient Greece was the herm, originally a representation of the god Hermes. It consisted of a head on top of a simple squarish pillar--your basic supersized Pez dispenser--unadorned except for, in front, an amply proportioned, usually erect, and sometimes arrestingly protrusive penis and scrotum. Scholars tell us that such decorations were apotropaic (you learn a lot of vocabulary in this field)--that is, intended to ward off evil, and that folks back then paid no more attention to them than we would to a lucky horseshoe. Maybe. All I'm saying is, stuff that even now we'd consider hard-core porn you saw then just walking down to the Piraeus.
The ancients were also unembarrassed by graphic displays of sex. Greek men--to be precise, male Greek aristocrats--figured if it moved, they could have sex with it, or at least look at pictures about having sex with it. We have countless examples of crockery showing various combinations of humans, deities, and the occasional animal engaged in the amatory act, most of it presumably used as party favors to put the lads in the mood. Even in painterly scenes having nothing to do with sex the genitalia were often conspicuously displayed.
From this vast array of XXX-rated artwork we can make a few deductions about Greek aesthetic preferences, genitaliawise (here I mainly follow Kenneth Dover's landmark study Greek Homosexuality, 1978): (1) Long, thick penises were considered--at least in the highbrow view-- grotesque, comic, or both and were usually found on fertility gods, half-animal critters such as satyrs, ugly old men, and barbarians. A circumcised penis was particularly gross. (2) The ideal penis was small, thin, and covered with a long, tapered foreskin. Dover thinks the immature male's equipment was especially admired, which may account not only for the small size but the scarcity of body hair in classical art. A passage from Aristophanes sums up the most desirable masculine features: "a gleaming chest, bright skin, broad shoulders, tiny tongue, strong buttocks, and a little prick."
You're thinking: How times have changed. Ain't arguing. Of course, we do have to take into account a contributing factor: artists' models were nude, and their studios lacked central heat.
Aka, the nexus of cheese, drugs, and terror.
ST. JOHN'S, NFLD. - A black market for cheese is developing in St. John's, Nfld., as drug abusers find ways to support their addiction, police say.
The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary says people are stealing and reselling food from supermarkets and other stores to pay for their drugs.
Staff Sgt. June Layden says a man who threatened to stab people with a hypodermic needle in the parking lot of a supermarket earlier this week was holding between 12 and 16 blocks of cheese when he was arrested.
In fact, cheese theft is a growing problem in the province, Layden says. "From speaking with a number of people yesterday, including some employees at some of our larger supermarkets, they are finding people are coming in and stealing it by blocks."
Thieves have also targeted pizza shops, says Layden, and she suspects crates of cheese are then sold back to other restaurants at a cheap rate.
Robert Kourrie, the owner of Big Bite Pizza in Churchill Square, says about $200 worth of cheese was taken from his shop. "We had a break-in here, and yeah, I think we had a case or 10 blocks [stolen]."
The police say they believe it was a drug-related crime, but no suspects have been arrested.
Now that New Orleans is destroyed this is all we have left to see... Some slotted spoons.
Only a matter of time...
to hear: "it doesn't get much better than dancing robots"
Sounds like good news, though only in that the US producing more engineers is good. India and China producing more is also good for everyone.
The United States graduates far more engineers annually than typically reported in the press, a study said Monday, while the number of engineering graduates in India and China, long considered threats to the U.S.’ status as a technological superpower, may be overstated.
Researchers at Duke University found that about 225,925 engineers graduate from American universities annually, about three times the number—70,000—typically cited by the National Academies and the media. The academies include the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council.
India, which has become a growing tech center, particularly for outsourcing many operations of U.S. firms, produces about 215,000 engineers a year, the study found. That’s far fewer than the 350,000 figure frequently cited by the press and the National Academies.
“I loved it. I felt great. I felt young — not that I feel that old,” Frances said. She especially enjoyed the response she got from the students. “I loved the kids cheering me on.”
The best that can be said of the recently concluded meeting on climate change in Montreal is that the countries that care about global warming did not allow the United States delegation to blow the whole conference to smithereens. Washington was intent on making sure that the conferees required no more of the United States than what it is already doing to restrain greenhouse gas emissions, which amounts to virtually nothing.I suppose that means the EU has done less than virtually nothing, as the US is doing better on GHGs despite consistently higher growth rates.
Alternatively, it might mean that the entire world has fulfilled 100% of their Kyoto commitments, and the result is virtually nothing, as predicted and planned. Here's to 0.7 degrees different in 100 years!
Further, what do the NYT and others have to say about the exploding market for hybrid cars, and distributed efforts of volunteers to turn them into 250+mpg vehicles? How about the mass of progress by researchers on efficient solar?
‘Ohh, that doesn’t count, because it isn’t controlled from the top down!’
I'm trying to find the number of murders attributed to Crips. My guess is in the thousands.
The Wikipedia article is very interesting. The name actually _is_ from 'crippled'.
"The name Crips was first introduced in the Los Angeles Sentinel in a description by crime victims of young men with canes, as if they were crippled. The name stuck."
Update: this guy...
Is it wrong to be morbidly fascinated by this site? [via boundarylayer]
Be regular in your Drink Tank reading.
Our feed is located at:
Since this is the drink tank, I figured I would do my duty and visit the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam. Enjoy these macro beer caps to make you wish you had a beer like me.
Remember when everyone said Kentucky Fried Chicken changed their name to KFC because they were now using genetically modified beasts with no heads and they could not legally use the word "chicken"? Well the Dutch just give a big middle finger to that idea and rock their chicken 1980s style.
There are some things that are the product of human action, but not of human design.
Editors of the NYT and others should probably guess that many, many people would never move back to New Orleans, even if new levees are built.
Why invest in a area that is destined to be underwater?
I don't really care if Congress spends the money. It is marginal, and would many people happy.
"Whatever the fuck make the people laugh, say that shit." He said, "Do people laugh when you say what you say?" I said, "Yes." "Do you get paid?"
I said, "Yes." He said, "Well, tell Bill I said: 'Have a Coke and a smile and shut the fuck up.'
No, that isn't Jessica Biel giving the $1.2bln piece of hardware a love tap.
The aircraft's sensors identify and approach targets autonomously. The remote pilot gives consent to strike with a mouse click.
I think I join everyone in saying... What happens when it gets hit by lightning?? I think this is making killing too cold and clinical. The very least they could do is make that little opening glow warm red in response to the undulations in James Earl Jones's voice. Cmon, he's not going to be around much longer. Then who are you going to use for that voicebox cameo??
First, "hours" in a space elevator? That amount of time would surely stretch the limits of human endurance past the breaking point -- not for weightlessness, but for the nonstop Musak renditions of Burt Bacharach tunes coming from the stereo system.
Even on regular elevators, I have to get off every 10 floors and bang my head on a wall until "What's New Pussycat" goes away.
Second, spaceships, transporters and Fonzie's motorcycle are all cool because you can control where they take you -- even Mork's egg had its own guidance system.
Think about it. Could Luke Skywalker destroy a Death Star while crammed in a lift, scrunched between some lady trying to burp her screaming kid and a weirdo intent on telling him how his pet parakeet is stealing his Social Security checks? Sadly, just like us, the Jedi would have to get off and take the stairs.
The Force just doesn't travel along a tether.
Daaaaaaaamn! Take that, elevator!
...selected countries, 2002
28.6 Sierra Leone
Drink Like A King
Louis XIV discovered Chambord in 1685 not long before he and his French army laid siege to Philipsbourg. This is somewhat coincidental, as your Imbiber discovered the very same raspberry liqueur exactly 300 years later while laying siege to his parent's liquor cabinet in Philly after a high school dance. Louis XIV and his court were quite fond of the stuff, and it quickly became the liqueur of choice of the French aristocracy. I, however, wasn't so enamored with Chambord at first, mainly because my prom date threw up on me after drinking it. The lesson here, kids: Raspberry liqueur does not go well with Natty Light, pure grain alcohol and the semi-caustic vocal stylings of Mr. Mister.
In the ensuing years, I've come to appreciate Chambord for its distinct flavor and versatility. Plus the empty bottle I've got hanging from my rearview mirror looks most def. Chambord has been called the quintessential cocktail ingredient thanks to its uncanny knack for mixing well with almost anything (see above paragraph for exceptions). Having spent the better part of the past two hours whipping up Chambord-infused cocktails while listening to '80's music, I'm happy to report that Mr. Mister's "Broken Wings" has gotten less awful with age and that I can still hold my liquor better than most teenage girls. Oh, and I'm very drunk, too. Here are some ideas:
-1 shot vodka
-1/2 shot elderflower cordial
-1/2 shot Chambord
-1 1/2 shot cranberry juice
Shake well with ice and strain into a martini glass
-2 shots vodka
-1 1/2 shots Chambord
-1 shot white creme de cacao
-1 shot heavy cream
Shake well with ice and strain into a martini glass. Float a mini Hershey's Kiss.
---Dan Dunn, The Imbiber
Italian Lawmakers To Consider Porn Tax
Italians would have to pay a 20 percent tax on pornography according to a budget amendment that cleared a first legislative hurdle, news reports said yesterday. The tax is expected to raise about $260M to help reduce the national deficit and to help fund government tax breaks to families.
Defending champion Brazil will play its first match of next year's World Cup against 1998 semifinalist Croatia.Over the years I've come to believe that controlling the ball in soccer is indeed important.
Croatia played Brazil for the first time in August in Croatia, a 1-1 tie.
It will be tough, but it will also definitely be memorable considering both teams like to control the ball,'' said Croatia's naturalized Brazilian, striker Eduardo da Silva.
Meanwhile, this summer, I was privy to that Brazil-Croatia game. They played in Split, and I was on the island Brac about 12 miles away. It was just a 'friendly' game, but the entire country was glued to their TVs. Although I was making bets with my cousins over either a 3 or 4 point spread, Croatia managed the 1-1 tie by an act of God almighty, and the Split arena was set ablaze by fireworks. I saw it all from the island. It made my face glow.
Oh, but Croatia, prepare to have your ass handed to you come June. (I don't care about soccer, but I haven't NOT been in Croatia for a World Cup since 1988, and Croatia as a politically independent entity didn't exist back then anyhow. It's a lot of fun to watch and allow yourself to turn into this. In 1998, when Croatia got third, I got elbowed in the face during a testosterone frenzy in Zagreb's main square fountain. A flare almost knocked out my eye. Good times.)
"I'm disgusted by it"
This is also useful.
Next week, the World Trade Organization will hold its big meeting in Hong Kong to discuss an agreement that was supposed to free up trade in farm products and manufactured goods around the world. Liberalizing farm trade helps poor countries; liberalizing trade in manufactured goods and services helps rich countries.
That's why it's no surprise that for the past 50 years, the world trading system has done a whole lot of the latter - helping the industrialized nations - without doing so much to help poorer countries. This trade pact had its beginnings in Doha, Qatar, in 2001, when the rich were reeling from Sept. 11 and talking about getting more of the world onto the global economic prosperity ladder; it was supposed to fix that distorted system.
Given that grand design, it is pathetic to see how this pact has been stalled by the intransigence of the European Union, which has allowed itself to become hostage to France's refusal to take its farmers off the government dole. In the past few weeks, the finger-pointing and posturing have reached new extremes. The British actor Colin Firth, of "Bridget Jones's Diary" fame, even presented the European Union's trade commissioner, Peter Mandelson, with a petition asking that the rich world make trade rules work for the poor; the petition was said to have 10 million signatures. And Tony Blair, running on the fumes of his expiring E.U. presidency, hatched a proposal to help revive the trade talks, but it was quickly slapped down by France et al.
Yesterday, Brazil's president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, called President Bush to propose a meeting of world leaders in January to take up the issue.
That's not a bad idea because at the rate things are going, the big meeting in Hong Kong will be a bust. And that's just sad, particularly because this is the year when the big industrialized countries promised to finally do something about making poverty history. Helping poor countries is not just about debt relief and aid. It also means ending the trade-distorting giveaways that rich countries have sustained for years to coddle special interests, particularly farmers.
The developed world funnels nearly $1 billion a day in subsidies to its farmers, encouraging overproduction. That drives down prices and leaves farmers in poor nations unable to compete with subsidized products, even within their own countries. In recent years, farmers from America, Europe and Japan have dumped products on world markets at prices that do not begin to cover their cost of production. Europe's system is particularly odious; the United States' farm subsidies are only a third of Europe's. What's more, tariffs in agricultural products are obscenely high, in another attempt to keep the farm products of poor countries out of the supermarkets of Paris, Frankfurt and Chicago.
It's past time to fix this broken system, and make trade rules work for the world's poor.
Gas goes down in price, Bush goes up in polls.
Alternative explanations: better economy, better rhetoric, better situation in Iraq, or maybe the new Harry Potter movie.
I hate polls like that.
"The House of Representatives today passed the last and biggest piece of a total of $95 billion in tax cuts, a move that reflects both the ambition of House Republicans leaders and their willingness to let the budget deficit widen in years to come."Spending causes deficits. Those tax cuts resulted in "tax receipts [that] rose by more than in any previous year in U.S. history, even adjusting for inflation."
Especially for an area like capital gains, where tax avoidance is very likely and probably easier than, say, income or property taxes, taxes should remain low. If anything, continuing the trend to bring ever more people into the investor class is good.
Government spending today is BAD. Letting this tax cut roll back would NOT increase revenue.
Also, check this out. Tax rates on the wealthiest people have decreased and their share of taxes paid has increased.
1980: rate=70.0%, share by wealthiest 1%=19.3%
1986: rate=25.7%, share by wealthiest 1%=27%
Today, share by wealthiest 1%=34.3%
I can guarantee an op-ed tomorrow in the NYT about how this house vote means the rich wont pay their fair share. That's pretty funny. Yes, yes, the wealthiest 1% control 39% of wealth, which is greater than 34.3%, but increasing marginal rates would _hurt_ that!
Further, the top 20% only control 42% of wealth, while paying 80% of taxes.
UPDATE: It's like they are following a template or something.
Yes, he made a book.
Blog Tonight, Gov'na?
Ah.. tonight is the last night travelling the tube... And by tube, I don't mean "digestive tract of a 6 meter python". No, I mean London, mate! Although I arrived to find a slight mix-up at the hotel -- I was accidentally upgraded to a full-size apartment -- the arrival was pretty smooth. I recommend that anyone coming to London for a few days do what I did first: wake up at 4:30am to fly to Amsterdam for exactly 13 hours. The really adventurous types even learn a bit of Dutch while there:
Dutch: Ik heb een ambulance nodig, er zijn overal spinnen en ik ben heel erg bang.
Phonetic: Ick hep un um-boo-luns-uh no-digg, ur sign over-ul spin-nun en ick ben hail air-gggh bung.
English: I need an ambulance, the spiders are everywhere and I'm really quite scared.
Saturday I visited and figured out the mystery behind Stonehenge only to forget it by the time the train returned from Salisbury. And no, no one in Salisbury has ever heard of a Salisbury steak.
The hotel is, in the words of Borat, niiiiice. Free Playstation/DVD rentals? With free Playboy TV on hotel cable, what else does the business traveller need? Just kidding, that is disgusting. I don't know who watches that stuff. Ahem.. so, did you hear Chancellor Brown had to raid the North Sea oil companies for 2bln pound to cover expenditures? Poor David Best was laid to rest, not to rhyme, as was previously reported. Cameron took over the leadership of the Tory party, to shake some fear into those Conservative MPs. Goooooo Tories!
Cheers, Andrew (Foreign Correspondent, Drink Tank Press Corps)
p.s. I'd like to give a shout out to my employer for backing my simultaneous hostile takeover of the British and Dutch economies.
p.p.s. The Dutch word for numbers is nummers. Brilliant.
More From The Department Of Reptilian Digestion
...but with a twist!
...Amount a 19-year-old man won after taking a bet with a friend that he would bite the head off a gecko, according to the Time Herald-Record of Middletown, NY. Though Derrick Ford won the bet, it wasn't long before police showed up and placed him under arrest, the newspaper said. He was being held in the Orange County Jail yesterday, charged with felony animal cruelty.
In other amazing snake news
Via Fran at Bloomberg.
Brazil Officials Catch Calf-Swallowing Anaconda
By Telma Marotto
Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Brazilian wildlife officials captured a six-meter-long Anaconda that was resting on a farm in the
southeastern state of Minas Gerais after it swallowed a 330 pound calf, BandNews channel reported.
The snake was motionless in a shed at the farm, digesting the calf, when it was found, BandNews said. It took seven men to lift the snake onto a truck to remove it from the farm, BandNews said. The television station broadcast video of the speckled brown snake, its middle bulging from its meal, being hoisted onto the truck.
The reptile expelled the dead calf during transportation and was released in the Parnaiba River after being examined, BandNews said.
Previously on Drink Tank:
Python swallows cat
Snake bursts after gobbling gator
Our sevicemen and women need a beer!
Democratic lawmaker actually wants to do something for the troops
Santa needs a beer!
What are y'all doing Saturday? I'll be out of town but my roommates were able to get their costumes for $15, and I thought I'd pass along the link.
Iraq war going worse than I thought
Joementum now among its countless troubles.
Senator Lieberman goes on, "Does America have a good plan for doing this, a strategy for victory in Iraq? Yes, we do. And it's important to make clear to the American people that the plan has not remained stubbornly still, but has changed over the years."
Glad we cleared that up, Mr. President.
Cheesy get rich quick scheme
Link via Oded, who dislikes posting while using Internet Explorer. Read the story!
Rather than joke about cheese to die for or the comparative virtues of an evening with red wine and cheese versus the other white stuff, I'll provide this information as to how to set up your own Queso Fresco operation.
The Internet's premiere repository for pictures of stuff on cats.
The law is an ass
War on Christmas:
Customers paid $100 for 2 grams of the drug, which was packed in plastic vials to contain the odor. The vials were recently embossed with "Merry Christmas," the sources said.
Bummer; those guys were good.
"Do you think Saddam Hussein has no work? I have no time."
"Pay attention, young men."
"Even if I were thrown into the inferno . . . I would not show a sign of pain, all for your sake."
"I never saw you before this court. If I saw you on the street, I wouldn't know you."
"I stayed in the same shirt, I have no underwear, there is no space."
Pakistan's government is to remove a poem from a school textbook after it emerged the first letters of each line spelt out "President George W Bush".
Making money playing video games. At first I thought the article would be about some game testers at EA or something similar.
Gotta find a video
Fran tells me they laugh too.
Also, she had this to say about the picture:
HOLY THAT JUST SEVERED MY HEART. I THINK I JUST P33D ALL OVER MYSELF.
those dogs are dangerous.
Is there any way to buy a sixpack for someone in jail?
This poor guy got 10 years for stealing one when he was 16.
A bullet dodged?
Coffee and tea may reduce the risk of serious liver damage in people who drink too much alcohol, are overweight or have too much iron in the blood, researchers reported yesterday.
Just finished cup five of Joe; soon to the bath for a cold one and a novel :)
PS I've got some Rye for poker this evening... show up at 7.30; BYOB.
Fruits of Empire
Bookies like "unbeatable" USA in 2008 paralympics.
Better than Terminator 3
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Carnival in Rio
Check it out!
This onslaught of negative thinking is clearly having an impact. During the 2004 presidential campaign, when attacks on the economy were in full force, 36% of Americans thought we were in recession. One year later, even though unemployment has fallen from 5.5% to 5%, and real GDP has expanded by 3.7%, the number who think a recession is underway has climbed to 43%.
where you might spend facetime with the carbon community.
Today the Los Angeles Times ran a nice story about the Los Angeles blogosphere. It gives a pretty nice overview and analysis of the LA blogging community, and I have more thoughts about it at my blog.
We set fire to thousands of cars and don't call it a riot. How does this help anything?
"The sampling error in the telephone survey was plus or minus 5 percentage points."
Telephone? What's that?
Some good graphs on the % of income spent, as a function of income.
It's a book about building potato canons.
Next time you're at your cabin, Miguel, you should create a gambling game based on the distance it flies, or perhaps something equivalent to horseshoes!