The Airing of Grievances
Friday, December 31, 2004
Makes Me Sick
As long as we're on the WSJ and opportunistic political positions (is there really any other kind?), thought I'd mention a WSJ editorial today opining that democrats will hurt themselves further by attacking Clarence Thomas' (possible) nomination as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

If Thomas does in fact get the nod over Scalia, here's how it will go down. Thomas gets nominated. The democrats oppose his nomination because his record reflects that he basis his decisions on wingnuttery rather than logic. Then, the republicans say with a straight face that the democrats oppose Thomas' nomination because they are racists.

And when that shit starts, and trust me it will -- it already happened on a much smaller scale with Alberto Gonzalez -- I really may have to put myself in some type of media seclusion. I mean really, there's only so much pure unadulterated bullshit one man can take.

(Full disclosure: I have not read the op-ed as it is not available on-line. AofG all-star Kramer gave me the scoop.)
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Merry New Year - Part Deux
Cozmo is off to ring in the new year in style with Frank and friends.

In addition to Phony Whisky, Sveedish Meatballs and Godamned Jerky Beef being served, I am sure that this phrase will be heard at least once tonight.
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Merry New Year!!
From these guys:

[Ed. note: For some reason, the picture from the "Zeta Chi" scene that was originally up is no longer available. Definitely not a stone groove]
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WSJ Editorial Calls For Kofi's Head
If all of these allegations are true, then I have to agree with Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), Kofi has to go. That being said, based on this passage, I wonder if Mr. Coleman has similar sentiments concerning the Red King.
While many questions concerning Oil-for-Food remain unanswered, one conclusion has become abundantly clear: Kofi Annan should resign. The decision to call for his resignation does not come easily, but I have arrived at this conclusion because the most extensive fraud in the history of the U.N. occurred on his watch. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, as long as Mr. Annan remains in charge, the world will never be able to learn the full extent of the bribes, kickbacks and under-the-table payments that took place under the U.N.'s collective nose.
However, based on the type of nonsense that Coleman has offered up in the past, I'd expect nothing more than abject hypocrisy here.

(Thanks for the heads up Kramer.)
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Jesse Jackson: Kerry Won The Election
Such is the title of a Newsweek piece I just received from Truthout.org. And my response? Who fucking cares?

Truthout certainly provides a valuable service and does a good job of shining the light where it needs to be shone, but they really should be a little bit more selective in the stuff they send around. At some point, if you keep bombarding folks with water under the bridge stuff, folks are just going to end up tuning you out altogether and missing the good stuff. And no, I'm not saying that that the investigation into election fraud in Ohio should stop. If there was fraud, it needs to be exposed. Period. But am I'm saying that truthout need not send about a gazillion articles a day on the topic.

Anyways, the main reason I posted this piece wasn't even to bitch about truthout. It was so y'all could see a classic Jesse line tucked away in the very short interview. Made me laugh.
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Hot Dog Vendors
Why am I always the last person to find out about this stuff? (Thanks, Encyclopedia.)
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Slow Day
So, I'm working from about 8am to 2pm today and, if the past four days are any indication, I'll be sitting on my ass, doing a whole lot of nothing for the next five hours. I suspect I won't be the only one in that boat.

To pass the time, today's New York Times has a series of puzzles for its readers. I'll keep you posted on my progress.
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Are You Kidding Me?
Here's a lovely little dispatch from the culture war. It comes to us from a church in Kansas, Outhouse of Red State America.

(thanks to Daily Kos)
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Thursday, December 30, 2004
American Dad?
Well, looks like resident genius and AofG fave Seth MacFarlane is through with the pilot of his follow-up series to The Family Guy.

It's called American Dad, and you can check out 6 minutes of the pilot here. Truly some of the strangest animation I have ever laid eyes on.

Personally, I can't help but think that this is some sort of guerilla marketing joke. I mean, a talking German goldfish? An alien named Roger who only eats junk food? Stevie instead of Stewie? Smells funny to me.
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This Can't Be Good
Now, the defeated Moscow centric Ukranian PM is refusing to step down. So much for a non-violent change in power.
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More Earthquake Ridiculousness
Geophysicists are claiming the Sumatran earthquake actually sped the earth's rotation by 3 milliseconds a day, and that calendar keepers will actually have to add a "leap second" to keep the atomic clock accurate. Jeez - as if getting things done in a 24 hour day wasn't enough.

The quake also moved the Andaman and Nicobar islands as much as 100 feet.

Wrap your mind around THAT!
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Nothing To See Here, Move Along
In his time among the living, sham Nobel Peace Prize winner Yasser Arafat controlled a personal fortune estimated to be anywhere from $300 million to $6.5 billion, depending on which way the source you read is skewed. Arafat's plunder, culled from donations to the PLO, the Palestinian Authority and himself, not to mention tax revenue "collected" from the very Palestinians he claimed to represent, made Arafat one of the world's wealthiest men, no matter the actual dollar amount. What is completely unclear is the extent to which his personal holdings were comingled with those of the PLO and Fatah, a fact that was a source of dispute, even before he died this year.

Surely, in the age of eschewing all things terrorist, no American company would welcome the investment of such ill-begotten plunder from someone with not-so-opaque ties to terrorist groups? Apparently, Citigroup didn't mind getting a small taste.

I'm not so naive as to believe that dirty money has never found an outlet on our shores. I'm quite sure millions, if not billions, of Saudi loot that isn't paid as hush money to Wahabbist "charities" is invested into and managed by many of our domestic banking institutions. But the denial on Citi's part in this matter is more than a bit disingenous. The Palestinian company which invested in Citigroup funds was, if an Arafat cabinet official is to be believed, founded and controlled by Arafat himself. The basic know-your-customer rules followed, in theory if not in practice, by all financial institutions in this country would turn up this knowledge at some point, especially after 9/11.
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Found this incredibly terrifying picture from Phuket today.

This whole thing is just mindboggling.

Update: Well, don't i feel like an asshole. All-Star griever M.Butler checked the site and noticed that webite put up an apology the picture is from China and two years old, and the more I look at it, probably a fake anyway. As a peace offering, check out these hi-res satellite images from Kalutara, Sri Lanka. Here is the before, here is the after.
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Wednesday, December 29, 2004
More Dumbass Red-State Taxation Garbage
You all know how Cozmo feels about those without basis to comment on taxation issues who spout know-nothing garbage on the subject. But still, nothing gets a burr in my ass more than dummies who think they can espouse financial taxation theory and are lucky to be able to balance their own text book.

Well, while minding my own business finding out ways to spend my bonus money without winding up in the NYT or losing the ability to jump into the bubble real estate market which I am sure will tank in the near future (but nobody else is) I did a Google search for "New York City Municipal Bonds", the fifth entry in this list is a link to The American Spectator's article by William Tucker called "One More Thing About That Election..." from 11/10/04. Instantly, this no-talent assclown's take on public finance and taxation pricked my ears.

The Spectator, not content in a thorough popular vote trouncing of her husband, had to impeach Theresa Heinz one more time for sport and good measure. Tucker takes her to task for making a perfectly legal, prudent and tax-minimizing strategy of investing in "Triple Tax Free" municipal bonds in New York City. Adding fuel to the fire, Tucker claims that it is these very muni bonds which Heinz-Kerry owns are the REASON that New York City pays more in taxes than say, Mobile, AL, even though that because of its astronomical real estate prices and high wages, NYC is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in.

You know what this smells like, right kids?

It really is unbelievable to read through the entire thing, so I will save you the indignity and cut straight to the good stuff.

See if you can spot the jingoistic bullshit:
1. "Instead, the place [Wall Street] was a liberal ghetto -- an Irish liberal ghetto, to be exact." Errr, right. Who is this guy, Mr. Johnson from Blazing Saddles? I thought making fun of Irish Catholics for being "silly liberals" went out with monocles, high collars and top hats. Maybe I missed something.

2. "Governor Nelson Rockefeller created a whole alphabet soup of bonding authorities" - Rockefeller was a fiscally conservative Republican governor in a tax-and-spend age, and most of the agencies he is talking about were formed by NYC's resident fascist/supragovernmental asshole of the day, Robert Moses, anyway. Get your facts straight before you drop names, Tucker.

3. "In New York City, public employees and their families come close to representing a majority of the electorate." According to 2000 NYS Department of labor figures, about 800,000 people work for the City - Considering the City has a population of over 8 million, I don't think 10% of the population is even close to a majority, heck it's even less than the percent of Red Staters who identify themselves as evangelical. Also, almost 200,000 of which are teachers, but Tucker just lumps teachers into the category of Government largesse. But then again, who cares whether or not city kids get a good education, as long as "No White Ex-burban Child in Alabama is Left Behind"

4. "...Which is why New York City residents pay the highest taxes in the country and almost never complain." - New Yorkers complain all the time about their socialist-level tax burden. But let's look at the real reason that NYC taxes are so high. New York State gets only 80% of every tax dollar it spends in spending by the Federal government (Thanks, Trent Lott!!!). Compare that to Red States like Mississippi, which gets almost a 2.0x return on tax spending back in federal spending, or Dick Cheney's own Wyoming, which gets $1.13 for every dollar sent to DC or even the Red King's home, a large state like Texas (whom you shouldn't mess with) which gets $0.98 of every dollar it sends to DC back in spending. Moreover, New York Metro area generates 89% of all income taxes in the state, yet only makes 70% of the total income for the state. Total that all up, and NYC spends about 20% more in tax dollars than it needs to to subsidize the Federal and State governments which constantly give more in aid and entitlements to other areas of the state/country. That being said, if NY were treated as equitably as the president's home state, I would get 20% of my taxes, roughly 10% of my total income, back from the government. Yearly, that would be more savings than I every could imagine from buying "Triple Tax Free" bonds.

Unbelieveable. But hey, American Spectator, don't let the facts get in the way of a good Heinz-Kerry bashing.

Of course, check the banner ads on this site, and well...what else can you expect? The American Spectator's sponsors encourage readers to "Bet on Iraq" and beg age old question "Who Else Wants to GET RICH In Real Estate?". It warms the cockles of my heart that there are people in this country are taking The Spectator's words on government financial as something more than utter bullshit. Maybe a bunch of Dinar-speculating swamp-real-estate-developing oldsters is what Bush means when he wants to convert Social Security to an "ownership mentality". Personally, I can't wait until I'm the only one my age with anything in the bank to retire on.
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Celebrity Words of Wisdom

"When you're in the public eye, it's wrong to cheat on someone, unless you're very careful. If you're normal and no one's going to know, then do it."-- Paris Hilton
(Hat tip: Bill Simmons)
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A Good 'Ole Fashioned Duel
Jackasses. (Thanks, bcg11.)

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Resolution In the Air
Huey looks to be on board with the AofG's goals for 2005.

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And Somebody Else Died Too...
Self hating American and Jew Susan Sontag kicked the bucket yesterday too. Although she championed a post-modern view of the cultural world as a complete whole (something we all live and understand daily now, hell the very concept of the AofG is nothing but that) and the aesthetics of lesbianism, you won't catch Cozmo among NY's intellectual elite lining up to pray at her altar.

This is a woman who wrote and published the following statements:
- In protesting the Vietnam War "The white race is the cancer of human history."

- Defended Leni Riefenstahl's anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda vehicles Triumph of the Will and Olympiad in 1965 with "To call Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will and Olympiad masterpieces is not to gloss over Nazi propaganda with aesthetic lenience…. Because they project the complex movements of intelligence and grace and sensuousness, these two films of Riefenstahl's transcend the categories of propaganda, or even reportage" - only to call Riefenstahl a fascist nine years later because she published a series of photographs that celebrated indigenous tribes gender roles.

- On Pornography, "What pornography is really about, ultimately, isn't sex but death." (I guess she wasn't watching HBO's new series, Pornucopia...)

- As a veiled compliment to the September 11 hijackers "Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a ... attack on `civilization' or `liberty' or `humanity' or `the free world' but an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a consequence of specific American alliances and actions?"

- And my personal favorite, "He who despises himself esteems himself as a self-despiser."

Whatever Susan. Oh yeah, Sontag repeatedly passed off "literary" work, both non-fiction and fiction as her own without crediting sources. That kind of thing gets you shunned in the blogosphere. Apparently, if you are a lesbian literary critic though, it's ok.

In 1967, Gore Vidal summed up almost everything there is to say about Sontag, "Unfortunately, Miss Sontag's intelligence is still greater than her talent." To the Mission Director's concise statement I would only add that to her death, Miss Sontag's intelligence was also greater than her common sense.
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Jerry Orbach R.I.P.

The Law & Order star passed away last night. One of my favorite television shows of all-time. Spent many lazy days watching episode, after episode, after episode. Always found it hilarious that he was the same dude who was Baby's dad in Dirty Dancing. AofG thoughts go out to his family and loved ones.
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Aid Grows Amid Remarks Over President's Absence
So says the title of a piece in today's Washington Post. Yet another illustration that Crazy Cozmo was way-ahead-of-the-curve on this one. The Post piece, however, has a much to do about nothing feel as the "remarks" it offers up are really not all that damning. Have a look for yourselves:
Some foreign policy specialists said Bush's actions and words both communicated a lack of urgency..."When that many human beings die -- at the hands of terrorists or nature -- you've got to show that this matters to you, that you care," said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.

[E]ven some administration officials familiar with relief efforts said they were surprised that Bush had not appeared personally to comment on the tsunami tragedy. "It's kind of freaky," a senior career official said.
In any event, as many AofGers have already expressed, it's nice to see the U.S. stepping up to the plate here; even if, so far, it's only to the tune of a few million more than Alex Rodriguez is compensated yearly to play baseball. To be fair though, from everything I've heard, it's crystal clear that the U.S., as Colin Powell said yesterday, "will do more."

As an aside, I noticed in the Post piece that the Red King's minions are taking Bill Clinton to task for calling for a coordinated relief effort. In a not-so-veiled shot at the Slick One, a White House official reportedly said, "Honestly, I swear, George's is much bigger than Bill's. 'Scuse me? Oh, how do I know? Er, the White House prefers to keep that information confidential." Seriously though, here's what the official said: "The president wanted to be fully briefed on our efforts. He didn't want to make a symbolic statement about 'We feel your pain.'" Well first, I would really appreciate hearing one sound reason why he would not. And second, considering that the president reportedly spent "part of yesterday clearing brush and bicycling," the overwhelming aroma of bullshit here is killing me.
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NFL Coaching System Needs Fixing
Just came across this NY Post piece where Giants players are verbally taking head coach Tom Coughlin to the woodshed. A few comments from unnamed players:

"Guys absolutely hate Tom Coughlin. He's not the type of coach we're going to go and put everything on the line for. Guys don't play for him; we play because we have to play and you're not going to win that way."

"Honestly, they might as well fire him now. The players on this team have quit on him. That's a very strong word, but mark it down: this team has quit on him and quit really caring and quit listening to what Tom Coughlin has to say."

"Most guys are just hoping that either they'll be gone or he'll be gone after this season. Guys just tune him out, ignore him and don't care what he says. They just want to play the season out and get it over with."
The article goes on to detail incidents of Coughlin mistreating players, and it's fairly interesting stuff, but that's really not what I'm concerned with. What I am concerned with is that white coach, after white coach, after white coach, not only gets their groove on before any bruthas are invited to the NFL head coaching party; and, more distressingly, that white coach, after white coach, after white coach gets invited back to the party despite well-established records of ineptitude.

Just take a look at some of the worst coaches in recent memory. Dennis Erickson? Recycled white coach. Dave Wannstedt? Recycled white coach. Bruce Coslett? Recycled white coach. Richie Kotite? Recycled white coach.

Then you have the plethora of white college coaches -- and yes, I do realize that's pretty much redundant -- who are consistently catapulted into the NFL and who consistently do an atrocious job. Steve Spurrier? College-to-pro bust. Butch Davis? College-to-pro bust. Lou Holtz? College-to-pro bust. Bobby Ross College-to-pretty much a pro bust. And I'm sure there are more that I'm forgetting.

Yet somehow, while all these white coaches getting recycled or promoted, black coaches who have proven their worth as top notch assistants, or as quality head coaches, in the NFL receive no more love than sham affirmative action interviews under the Rooney rule.

I mean really, about 99% of aspiring black coaches can't even get a gig in Division I-A football and these white college guys are not only getting the gigs, but using them as a platform to multi-million salaries in the show.

Of course, there are certainly instances where a white college coach
comes to the pros and gets things done (see Johnson, Jimmy) and where a recycled white head coach transforms from trash to treasure (see Belicheck, Bill), but these are the exceptions rather than the norm.

In light of these consistent recycle and promote failures, it really is ridiculous that these jokers keep getting shot after shot when a guy like Marvin Lewis has to wait forever and a day to show what he's got, when a guy like Ted Cottrell is still waiting outside in the cold, when a guy like Denny Greene does not get a legitimate sniff until many years after he left behind an incredibly stellar record, when Art Sell barely hears a peep (and no, that sham interview in Miami, while the red carpet was rolled out for yet another white coolege-to-pro coach, does't count).

Yes, there is Lovie, Herm, Marvin, Tony, and Denny, but five coaches in thirty-two head coaching positions in league where 70% of the players are black is certainly not enough. Unfortunately, however, it seems that so long as the good 'ole boys network is in place, the recycled trashed and the promoted unprepareds, will keep getting invitations while the bruthas are left knocking on the door.
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Tuesday, December 28, 2004
2004 Special Person of the Year
Taibbi calls bullshit.

And really, not a moment too soon - I mean, person of the year? This paragraph from TIME's mini-hagiography just boggles the fucking mind:
For sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes—and ours—on his faith in the power of leadership, George W. Bush is TIME's 2004 Person of the Year.
So far, none of those three attributes have resulted in anything close to a positive, especially the last one. Bush's "gambling" (magazine code for "seeing what crazy, far-right shit he can get away with, consequences be damned") has resulted in ever-spiraling hatred towards and peril for the country he leads. Yet somehow, a meaningless honor designed to sell magazines fails to take this into account.

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Gas Prices Too High?
Well, perhaps you should give this character a call. According to the Maryland Dispatch:
John Adam Wesolowski, 24, was arrested early Sunday morning after a witness told police he saw him urinate into a car’s gas tank. The witness called police from a cell phone after he said he saw Wesolowski approach a 2005 Pontiac Gran Prix, unscrew the gas cap, place his penis in the receptacle and then urinate.
Sorry for the silliness, but this type of stuff cracks me up. The guy actually took the time to unscrew the thing and place his ding-a-ling right up in there? People, especially drunk ones, are funny.

PS: In all honestly, if they hadn't reported the guy's name I woulda bet big money that the human pump was a cat I went to college with. Guy had a unusually big thing for urinating in women's closets. Used to go over real well. Classy dude.
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The Human Fund Can't Do It All
The relative tightfistedness of the United States in response to the tsunami in South Asia, highlighted yesterday by always-ahead-of-the-curve Cozmo, seems to be gaining some notice in the world-at-large.

$15 million and 21 planes of relief supplies are a good start, but really, what does it do? Not much, compared to the devastation caused. The hotel in the above picture will probably cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, to repair and we haven't even begun to count the human and social costs. Multiple economies will be damaged and the private sector can't carry the load on its own. How much do I think is sufficient? Honestly, blank check these poor bastards. Divert a billion and change from our ham-handed efforts in Iraq. It'll do more good for us in the long run anyway.
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Business As Usual
The USA Today reports that recently retired inspector general for the Department of Homeland Security, Clark Kent Ervin, who had written numerous reports detailing DHS shortcomings, was not reappointed in a move that one Republican Senate staffer called "a purely White House decision." Apparently Ervin did not fit the "yes man" and the "this administration is infallible" mold that the White House is looking for. Why face facts and at the very least hold out the appearance of a modicum of accountability when the nation essentially okayed this type of nonsense on November 2? In any event, here are some of the not so flattering findings that Ervin made while in office:
• Undercover investigators were able to sneak explosives and weapons past security screeners at 15 airports during tests in 2003.

• Federal air marshals, hired to provide a last line of defense against terrorists on airlines, slept on the job, tested positive for alcohol or drugs while on duty, lost their weapons and falsified information in 2002.

• Department leaders should have taken a more aggressive role in efforts to combine the government's myriad terrorist watch lists since the department was created in 2003.

• The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) gave executive bonuses of $16,477 to 88 of its 116 senior managers in 2003, an amount one-third higher than the bonuses given to executives at any other federal agency.

• The TSA spent nearly $500,000 on an awards banquet for employees in November 2003. The cost included $1,500 for three cheese displays.
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Frank Looks Back
Since I'm still a bit uninspired and have yet to find a suitable target for two weeks of pent-up holiday- and death-fueled anger, it's time to get a jump on all the year-end retrospectives that you're likely to see in all forms of media in the coming days.

In 25 years, when someone asks me what happened in 2004, my response will be simple: Bush won, Mom died, and the Airing of Grievances was born. When they engrave AofG's tombstone, April Fool's Day 2004 will be carved as its birthdate. The rationale behind the blog was simple: embrace the American way of shrill complaining, direct all of my misplaced anger and loathing towards strangers on the Internet, rather than limiting it to just friends and family, indulge my not-so-latent narcissism and, hopefully, make people laugh. Within a week, I discovered that I was woefully out of my element and that there was no way I was creative enough to produce as much content as I wanted. Enter Cozmo and his well-constructed Dennis Miller-esque (before he went crazy and started pulling 0.5 shares) rants. Five months later, still not satisfied with our progress, Content Machine Jackie Chiles joined the family, completing the circle.

Due in no small part to the election, 2004 became known as the year of the blogger. Earlier in the year, I read a very insightful interview with Markos Moulitsas, he of Daily Kos. I'm paraphrasing, but he said that blogging, for him, was at its best when he had about 100 regular readers and could say whatever the hell he wanted without fear of repurcussion (this was an opinion no doubt informed by all the shit Kos had taken in the mainstream media in response to his feeling that, as a veteran, he didn't give a fuck about the deaths of highly paid civilian mercenaries in Fallujah - the price of an expanded audience that I hope we can someday pay).

Well, guess what? We're playing in that idealized space. On a good day, we get 300-400 hits from over 100 unique users, most of which are regulars. We're small enough to say what we want and not get fired from our day jobs and large enough to have a bunch of people hear it and get a discussion going. 2005 will hopefully see several improvements to the site and a further expansion of our audience, with the following tactics in mind:
- Migrating the blog from the horrendously shitty Blogger platform to something a bit more user-friendly.
- Shameless self-promotion.
- Continued efforts at destroying existing oligopolistic political and media structures.
- Shameless self-promotion.
- Personally investing more time towards producing and refining content.
- Improving interactive capabilities for our readers. Our current commenting system sucks.
- Shameless self-promotion.
The goal, of course, is media dominance and we'll get there with your help. Thanks for reading so far, we hope you'll be along for the ride!
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As Cozmo said, "there aren't words for something like this." Here's an amateur video of the tsunami hitting Patong Beach. And here's another video shot by panic stricken tourists who apparently survived the disaster (click on "video" and "wall of water").

On a personal note, I was right across the street the day the Twin Towers fell. The sheer fear, horror and helplessness I felt that day is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. And while its senseless to compare the two tragedies, I can personally say that what I experienced is no where near as bad as what many of the people of Southeastern Asia went (and are going) through. My apartment was unharmed, none of my loved ones lost, and I had a place to direct my anger. I simply can not imagine the complete despair of those who were directly effected here. If there is a God, and stuff like this makes me wonder, I hope he does his very best to help them make it through.

(See Cozmo's post for information concerning donations.)
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Monday, December 27, 2004
George Carlin
Apparently the painkiller bug has bitten him in the ass. And what of it? The man has a problem and he's dealing with it on his own terms. Anyone who rolls out any Rush Limbaugh comparsions should be tied down and given the Cooking Tong Treatment. In any event, the real reason I posted this "news" is to share some George Carlin goodness that I just came across. The man has a whole host of hilarious grievances to share concerning the media's coverage of athletics. Here's a taste:
Nor do I wanna know about some athlete's crippled little brother or his hemophiliac sister. The Olympics specialize in this kind of mawkish bullshit. Either his aunt has the clap, or his kid has a forty-pound mole, or his high school buddy overdosed on burritos. Can't sports exist on television without all this embarrassing, maudlin, super-sentimental, tear-jerking bullshit! Keep your personal disasters to yourself, and get in there and score some fuckin' points, ya creepy fuckin’ sweatmonger.

And you can skip tellin' me about the Chevrolet player of the game. A thousand-dollar contribution to a scholarship fund in the athlete's name. Shit. A thousand dollars won't even keep a kid in decent drugs for half a semester. Fuck Chevrolet. And fuck Keith Jackson. And fuck forced wholesomeness.
The entire rant is here. High comedy.
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Piano Playing
As you've never witnessed it before. Impressive.

(Note: If you work in a really uptight place, the link may not be safe for work.)
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Savannah Soiree
You gotta get your kicks somehow don't you? According to ABC News, police in Savannah, Georgia are looking for two women they say sexually assaulted a man who was in a alcohol and cocaine induced stupor. Apparently, the victim invited the women into his mobile home during his binge and awoke with a pair of cooking tongs "protruding from his body." So far the cops are having zero luck finding the woman as, suprisingly, the victim is refusing to cooperate. In any event, sure sounds like a helluva party. Where do I sign up?
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Biblical Proportions
I'm sure you have all heard by now of the tsunami which smacked into coastal areas Southeast Asia yesterday. But it is tough to imagine the devistation to people who live in these areas.

Imagine you are a fisherman in Sri Lanka, Andoman, Sumatra or Thailand. You are on the beach, sorting through your morning's catch, when suddenly, the water runs out 1/2 mile further than you have ever seen it before, exposing the ocean floor and thousands of fish, rocks and objects that you have felt with your feet, but never seen on land before. You run out to the sea, when suddenly it rushes back towards you faster than you have ever seen it. Within seconds, you are floating in water 20 feet deep and rocketing towards the shoreline. You look in towards shore and your entire village is underwater. Then, the water syphons out of the village, dragging everything you know with it. Your home, possessions, wife, children, boat - everything. What's left is mud, and debris and destruction. All of this without warning and happening within a 5 minute period.

If you can imagine this, you can start to get the feeling that is facing hundreds of thousands people in low-lying areas around the Bay of Bengal today. Of course, not all of the areas affected are little fishing villages. Madras is a populous as Chicago. Phuket is a popular a travel destination as any beach town in the US. The death toll is about 23,000 and rising, and that is the least of what could be a region-wide epidemic of water bourne illnesses that could start up as soon as tomorrow if people don't get fresh drinking water and clean food supplies. Reuters has the most complete look at the tragedy here.
Also, catch some BBC Eyewitness accounts here. There aren't words for something like this, so I'll leave you with some pictures wich tell the story better than I can:

A Sri Lankan Village

A wave retreats through a Sri Lankan city

Pretty much says it all - an Indian father holding the hand of his dead son to his forehead.

News continues to post about the disaster, and aid is just starting to flow in. However, in a time when the US really could use some PR help in the two largest Muslim democracies in the world (India and Indonesia), the Red King has been beaten to the punch Australia and France, as they ferry over drinking water and supplies, Bush retreats to Texas making a non-committal statement on aid. What he should be doing is getting these people rice and water and plastic sheeting with the Stars and Stripes on it - not clearing brush at the ranch. But then again, what else can you expect from the "Leader of the Free World" - He's on vacation.

(UPDATE: - Just to prove to you all that we at the AofG are not heartless realpolitik-espousing bastards, you can find out where to help victims of this tragedy here. Cozmo will be giving money to Doctors Without Borders, a great charity that has almost no operating cost overhead on donations.)

UPDATE II - Cozmo's boy, Colin Powell, steps up to the plate putting the US in the pole position in aid given to the region at $15 million, $4 million to the International Red Cross and another $10 million or so in other direct aid. I'm glad to hear that we are stepping into the fray here, and think we should pony-up more soon.
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The FDA Approves Ecstacy Study
Score a victory for Rick Doblin and the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). From the Washington Post:

This month, in a little-noted administrative decision, the Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to a Harvard proposal to test the benefits of the illegal street drug known as "ecstasy" in patients diagnosed with severe anxiety related to advanced cancer.

The FDA's approval puts the study on track to become the first test of a psychedelic substance since 1963 at Harvard, where drug guru Timothy Leary lost his teaching privileges after using students in experiments with LSD and other hallucinogens.
Wow, this really is excellent news. The debate over the legalization of drugs in our country has been a significant issue for well over a century. The medical community has consistently clashed with the government over whether or not particular drugs should be legalized for therapeutic purposes. The conflict concerning medical marijuana has been the loudest to date. And with a lot less public fanfare, proponents of therapeutic MDMA (the chemical name for ecstasy) have been pressing for its legalization for quite some time.

Advocates of MDMA are mostly physicians who champion its therapeutic value as an adjunct to psychotherapy. Their opponents are the federal government, led by the Drug Enforcement Agency, who (through a series of questionable legal decisions) permanently banned ecstasy in 1988 by placing it in the most restrictive schedule, Schedule I, of the Controlled Substances Act. The Schedule I categorization was paramount because it severely limited the ability to use MDMA in research.

Since 1989, however, when the FDA -- the key arbiter in determining whether or not psychedelic studies may go forward -- reorganized and formed the Pilot Drug Evaluation Staff, psychedelic research has been approached in an increasingly fair and balanced manner.

And finally, after a long uphill struggle, it appears as if the government is living up to its stated "established process" of relying on "science, and not ideology." As a result, MDMA advocates such as Rick Doblin as well as the people of MAPS, have been granted the opportunity to prove the benefits of therapeutic MDMA and to hopefully share them with those unfortunate individuals so desperately in need.

(Interestingly, the folks at MAPS are making progress with MDMA and other psychedelics because they have independent sources of supply. With respect to marijuana, however, the federal government has a monopoly on the supply that is legal to be used in research. The government uses this monopoly to restrict marijuana studies. The struggle to break the government monopoly will be addressed in an upcoming Administrative Law Judge hearing, in which MAPS is suing the DEA to get a license at UMass Amherst for a production facility.)
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Affirmative Action
Is the Bush administration supporting it?

(Thanks, GOB.)
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Says It All
Maureen Dowd brings her A game. Tight.
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Sunday, December 26, 2004
Festivus Extravaganza Update (Update II)
We've added some grievances here, here and here. Happy Festivus!

And we've added another grievance here.
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The AofG Festivus Extravaganza - Navigation Board & Calendar of Events

Follow the links to celebrate our virutal Festivus here on the AofG!

Happy Festivus, Everybody!!!! - Your Guide to the AofG's Festivus celebration.
Frank's Festivus Message
Jackie Chiles' Airing of Grievances
Cozmo Cramer's Airing of Grievances
Your Airing of Grivances - If you have your own grievance, post it here, and Jackie or Cozmo will post it on the big board.
(already posted, Kramer, Kenny Banyan)
Breaking Festivus News - Item 1, Item 2
The Human Fund Awards
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I Gotta Lotta Problems With You People - Jackie's Fifth Edition
Grievances, grievances, and more grievances. This time the folks bothering yours truly are hypocritical, selfish, Michael Jordan wannabe, phonies. Can't fuckin' stand 'em.

Case in point. Kobe Bryant. And since I'm a little weary from all the Festivus grieving I've been doing, I'm gonna give the honors here to Selena Roberts of the New York Times. An excerpt from her spot on piece:
Where did Bryant go wrong in his imitation of M. J.? It began somewhere in suburbia, with his needs indulged by a doting family, the ball always in his hands.

Somehow, this sheltered existence left him arrested in development and devoid of street savvy. Bryant never learned the N.B.A. code: choose pole dancers over hotel clerks, teammates who make you better and discretion over snitching.

For two years, Bryant has violated all of the above. Instead of abiding by the "keep it real" index of N.B.A. players, Bryant outed himself as a phony. The first sign of this developed when Bryant, a self-professed glowing father and husband, was accused of raping a concierge in Eagle, Colo.

Instead of finding humility, Bryant responded with an odd mix of arrogance and insecurity. As if to boost his street cred, Bryant sat still for his first tattoo - which, even now, seems like a Cracker Jack press-on.

Bryant's transparency is his weakness. You could almost see through him yesterday, peer right into his desperation to show up O'Neal.

He called the loss a "learning experience," handled a few more questions and politely left the podium. All that charm, and little appeal. All those points, and no victory for Kobe. In this odd way, it's Christmas every day in Laker Land.
Kobe Bryant has experienced one of the more spectacular falls from grace of any athlete during our time. While I will admit that the rape allegations surprised me, the rest of the stuff hasn't in the slightest. From pretty much the beginning, the guy struck me as a first-rate phony. Yeah, he could hoop his friggin' ass off, but his studied personality seemed insincere at best and utterly contrived and manipulative at worst. His exposure as a fraud was simply a matter of time.

(Thanks for the heads up, BV.)
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Saturday, December 25, 2004
I Gotta Lotta Problems With You People - Jackie's Fourth Edition
Man, the Festivus spirit is taking over my soul. Yet another group of folks I'm having problems with. Lawyers who have zero respect for the holiday season. Can't fucking stand 'em. But, what I can stand, and actually love in fact, is opposing lawyers who colorfully put those ebenezers in their place. Matter of fact, I just heard such a story and it made my Christmas heart chuckle. Thought it might make yours chuckle too.

Here goes. Apparently, on December 17 in a case pending in Dallas, Texas, defendant lawyer (Alfonso Chan) filed a motion to compel plaintiffs to produce certain documents despite the fact that plaintiffs counsel (Mike Lynn) had already filed a letter with the court requesting a vacation. According to Mr. Chan's motion, Lynn's vacation letter was "untimely and unreasonable" because it was "filed the afternoon before [Mr. Lynn's] vacation and after he was informed that we would be filing the foregoing motions and setting them for hearing," and Mr. Chan asked the court to ignore the vacation letter. Untimely? That's rich.

In any event, the judge granted Mr Lynn's vacation request and ignored Mr. Chan's motion which prompted Mr. Lynn to write a Dr. Seussian response brief to the motion entitled "How The Grinch Stole Christmas Vacation -or- Response to Request to Ignore Vacation Letter." Here's the brief. Enjoy.

Happy Festivus! & Merry Christmas!
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Friday, December 24, 2004
I Gotta Lotta Problems With You People - Jackie's Third Edition
Yet another grievance. This one's with folks who talk-the-talk, but do not walk-the-walk. Doesn't get much worse than that. Can't fucking stand 'em.

Case in point. Soon to be ex-Yankee Javier Vazquez. After showing absolutely zero courage with his performance (or lack thereof) on the field, he's decided to become a little big man with his words. From Foxsports.com:

"I'm disappointed that the Yankees are talking about trading me for having only a bad second half to the season. I've had four consistent seasons in the major leagues, and for one bad second half it's unfair that they want to trade me. I still trust in my abilities, and if the Yankees trade me, they will regret it."
Oooooohhh, ominious words there Javy. Sure the Yanks are quaking in their boots. But seriously, here's a reality check dude. If the Bombers have anything to regret it's having signed you in the first place. Bottom line is that when the spotlight was on you consistently crapped the bed like someone with a bad case of diarhhea after a few too many helpings of rancid refried beans. In fact, you're well on your way to joining the likes of Greg Norman, Chris Webber and Armando Bentitez as first-ballot inductees into the Choker's Hall of Fame. So listen, do us all a favor and shut the fuck up. You had your chance to walk-the-walk and you failed miserably. And now you want to talk-the-talk? Whatever. Good riddance, dude.
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I Gotta Lotta Problems With You People - Jackie's Second Edition
A quick grievance about Boston Red Sox fans. From where I sit, most of 'em have handled their recent fortune with less class than a hooker on nickel night. Just an obnoxious and offensive bunch. So, quite naturally, this baby is scratching me right where I itch!

(Thanks, Kramer.)
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Thursday, December 23, 2004
The Feats of Strength - Festivus Must Go On!!!
Frank, I have one of these with your name on it.

Festivus is not over until you (or Jose Denim Vest, as your proxy) can pin me - since you are out of town (and this is a sloooooow internet day) FESTIVUS MUST GO ON!

We will continue Festivus until Sunday December 26th, and return to our regularly scheduled grieving on December 27th. Cozmo out.
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More Festivus News - Bitchy Gossip Columnist Airs Grievances

Festivus is making headway across the nation. Take NY Daily News' Lloyd Grove, who today published a nine grievance diatribe about why he is done with Paris Hilton.

Talk about a total smackdown in two pages or less. The best part is, he even admits he is partly to blame for it all, but that she is so horrible, he is washing his hands of her. Don't sugar coat it, Lloyd.

But it is the timing of it all...too coincidental. It's just more evidence that Festivus is truly on the march...
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Breaking Festivus News
Grass roots Festivus celebrations are popping up all over the country. Some Polk County, Florida residents have erected a sign that tells the world the holiday they love.

Today, the Festivus sign was ripped down on a technicality by the Polk County Council (curiously, a shrine to Zoroaster was allowed to stay), but the spirit remains.

The Festivus revolution is gaining traction, people. This truly is a Festivus for the rest of us!
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The Human Fund Awards
Of course, no modern-day Festivus would be complete without a donation to the Human Fund being awarded in the name of a deserving honoree.

Nominate your Human Fund award winner in the comments. This person should be dastardly, funny yet ever-so-understatedly stupid - all the qualities that went into starting the Human Fund all those years ago. Jackie, Frank and I will confer and let you all know the winner at the end of Festivus.
(Please note, The Red King is not an option, as he has already won the award 2 times previously for innane acts)
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Happy Festivus!
I Gotta Lotta Problems With You People - Jackie Edition

Without further ado, let the Airing of Grievances begin. What's pissing me off this year? Well actually, something that's been bothering me for quite some time. Minority folks who reflexively cry racism whenever something doesn't break their way. Can't fucking stand 'em.

An little story from a few months back. So, I'm sitting at my desk, diligently working away, when the phone rings. Wow, it's Kalani. Wonder what she wants. "Hello this is Jackie." "Hey Jackie, it's Kalani. I was hoping you had some time to talk about work." (Going through my head. Why on earth is this girl calling me to "talk about work." We've worked in the same building for two and half years and have not said anything more than hello and goodbye each other. And now she's fixing to engage in a deep conversation about work? She has nobody else to have this conversation with? Should be fun.)

"Sure Kalani, what's up?" "Well, I was just wondering how you found the environment here for black attorneys?" "Oh, it seems fine. Haven't have had any problems. Haven't encountered anything that's surprised me in the slightest. Seems to me, so long as you hold it down, you're pretty much gonna be ok. Why?" "Well maybe things have been different for you. Some stuff has happened to me that really has me questioning whether I can effectively work in this environment." "Such as?" "Well, I got an assignment a few months ago and I could tell right away the partner had a problem with me?" "How?" "At our first meeting, I told him my name was pronounced Ka-la-nee, but he kept on saying it wrong. Is it too much to ask that he get my name right?" (Thinking. Oh yeah, clearly, that reeks of prejudice. I'm sure he always gets the bitch with the blonde hair's name right. (hat tip: BV) C'mon now, the fact that he's having trouble pronouncing an African name that he's very likely never heard before is completely unaccepatable. Get Jesse on the horn. Now.)

"Did you try and correct him?" "I did, once. He just kept saying it wrong. I knew things were not going to work out well." "So, what happened?" "Well, you see I drafted this eight-page memo and when he called me up to review it he gave me all types of shit because it had like 4 typos." (Hmmm, she says "like 4 typos" so it was probably more, and the memo was only eight pages so that's pretty bad, and surely there were more issues with the thing since that's the nature of the beast.) "Is that the first work-product you'd ever given him?" "Yes, but he really made such a big deal out of it." "And you think that was because you're black?" (At this point, the incredulity in my voice is beginning to kick in and I'm also getting a little annoyed at this joker for wasting my time.)

"Oh definitely, you don't? There's no way he would have made such a big a deal out of it if with a white associate." "Quite frankly Kalani, I completely disagree. Not to be an ass, but if you're working for someone who's not familiar with your work, and the first work product you give them has 4 typos in eight pages, it's very likely going to be an issue." "Oh come on, 4 typos is not that big of a deal. The thing is not even going out the door and he makes such a big deal out of it? You don't think that had anything to do with me being black?"

Well, at about that point, I realized I'd have better luck explaining quantum physics to the soda can I just emptied (hat tip: BobbyP) so, after a few more minutes of Charlie Brown-in-class mode, I ended the conversation. And I'm sure Kalani, who left the firm shortly thereafter, was convinced that I was simply not "down for the cause." The "cause" apparently being that all of your personal failings should be attribtued to the prejudices of the outside world. The "cause" apparently being that you yourself are never to blame. The "cause" apparently being that please, oh please, pity me because I am black. And quite frankely, she's right, I'm sure as shit not down for that cause. Whatever.

Now, truth be told, there is certainly a whole lot of very real racially based nonsense that takes place in Corporate America. That being said, when folks like Kalani go around with their reflexive and baseless cries of racism it simply takes away from those instances where the role of race deserves some serious consideration.

So, in sum, my grievance is with those who reflexively claim racism -- a whole host of little boys and girls who persistently cry wolf -- who only serve to detract from real problems facing minority people today. In fact, as Kalani kept pushing the issue, and as she kept hinting more and more that somehow I was not "down for the cause", I was really tempted to hit her up with this: "Hey listen Kalani, I've heard what you've had to say. And I'll be honest with you. If you're looking for some sympathy, you can look it up in the dictionary. You'll find it somewhere between shit and syphillis."

Happy Festivus!
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I Gotta Lotta Problems With You People - Cozmo Edition
I gotta lotta problems with you people!

And Festivus begins, as ever, with out favorite part of the holiday, the Airing of Grievances. We've been doing that, pretty much non-stop, since April. You all know where I stand on issues like PETA, The Gimpification of Colin Powell, Conventions, and the RNC, so I thought I would hit you all up with some quick-hit rambling grievances. Enjoy:

- To the Federal Government - If your idea of protecting me from terrorism is breeding more terrorists daily in Iraq while simultaneously underfunding your promises to the NYPD, well then, I just don't don't want that type of protection.

- To New Yorkers - You walk more than any other city in the United States, with all that practice, you think we would figure out how to do it. Somebody is walking towards you, just move to the right.

- To People in Nebraska worried about Terrorist Attacks - Stop. The only terrorist you all have to worry about is Al Cracka. Its those of us on the coasts who have to worry about that.

- To People Who Refer To Lindsay Lohan as a Singer - There is a special hell for people like you.

- To People Not Even Close to My Tax Bracket, Yet Complain About Tax Relief - Save it. There's a few trillion dollars of Federal deficit that is not gonna just cure itself.

- To Paris Hilton - Just...just stop already.

- To Don Rumsfeld - Laugh at our troops all you want from your armored SUV, jackass. I hope you get fragged the next time you are in Iraq.

- To Everyone Worried About Keeping the "Christ" in Christmas - Chill baby. Have some eggnog and gather 'round the ole aluminum pole. You know you find tinsel distracting too.

- To Latrell Sprewell - My kids gotta eat.

- To Tripod.com - Dude, is your content that sacred that I can't link to a picture on your site? Whatever. If I see another "This Image Hosted By Tripod in my future, I'm gonna bust an artery.

and finally,

- To Ohio - What the F, man?
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I Gotta Lotta Problems With You People - Kenny Banyan Edition
i have lots of grievances!

the 1st is the yankees and steinbrenner's feeble attempts to get good pitching. it's why they lost the world series. vasquez? wtf? kevin brown's easy going temper? and then there's the whole big-unit debacle...would have been nice to bring pedro back to daddy too.

i live in boston and i have to say that this town sucks! well, it's not that bad, but people here seem cold and unfriendly. new yorkers are supposed to be mean and nasty, but i've found them much more affable than their northern counterparts. i grew up in chicago, and the people there are nicer than here too...and the liquor and bar laws suck here too.

another grievance - 4 more (LONG) years.

happy festivus everyone!
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I Gotta Lotta Problems With You People - Kramer Edition
I know I have a personal stake in this one but I am going to vent anyway. I owned YUKOS stock and could not believe that Putin could (i) manufacture a tax bill in excess of revenues for the same period (This would be like the IRS saying you owe them $100,000 when your income was only $25,000), (ii) create a dummy corporation in a building that houses a bar and a cell-phone store, (iii) have that dummy corporation buy YUKOS's largest unit in a sham auction and (iv) have a government entity, Rosneft, buy that dummy corporation.

I am not saying that the Oligarchs are clean. I am saying that Putin really does not care about Russian or International investors. He is also going after Vimpelcom, Russia's leading cell-phone company. It appears he has a master plan to repatriate or take back any important industry leading company. Smells like the home-styled cooking of Communism in many ways. I guess history has failed to teach him anything.

What did we do wrong? He also does not appear to want people to invest in Russia. Because investors like to put there money in places where the rule of low exists.

He is so smug and he offers no explanation. He actually bristled and claimed that the auction occurred in compliance with Russian and International law. I would really like to see this code or statute.

We in the USA are not without sin on many levels. But this is silly. And Bush has said little to shame him because he requires Russian support or silence at least in Iraq.

Putin is a modern day "Debo", the popular character from the movie "Friday". I cannot wait to see him get his f@cking ass kicked. I would wish him worse but it is Christmas. I will savor the bad ending of his story though.
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The Airing of Grievances - Grievers Edition
With all our spouting off about our grievances, the real Festivus Miracle is what you all bring to the table here at the AofG. You've read the Airing of Grievances from Jackie Chiles and Yours Truly. Now, it's your turn to let the world have it.

Sound off in the comments with your big grievance for the year. If it sparks enough interest, we will give you your own comment board and the Grievers can all have at it.

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No Grievances To Air
Frank here, checking in on a very cold, snowy Ohio morning to wish everyone a Happy Festivus and to thank Cozmo and Jackie for keeping the homefires burning while I've been away. At the risk of betraying the original Frank Costanza's cynical humanist vision of a holiday fortherestofus, I unfortunately have to say, I have no grievances to air on this most inspirational of holidays. For once, I am fine with the hand that I've been dealt.

Frankly, I am too heart-broken to feel like writing much more. So, I will focus on my personal feat of strength, getting through the next few days and steering my life back to some semblance of normalcy.

I'll be back in full force on Monday, happy holidays.
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It has begun. In 1997, Seinfeld released its greatest episode of all time, The Strike. The episode had everything, Kramer taking his old job back, Jerry dating a "Two-Face" and Kramer imploring that Frank Costanza re-start his old holiday, Festivus. I will let Frank tell the Festivus story in his own words:

FRANK: Many Christmases ago, I went to buy a doll for my son. I reach for the last one they had - but so did another man. As I rained blows opon him, I realized there had to be another way!
KRAMER: What happened to the doll?
FRANK: It was destroyed. But out of that, a new holiday was born. "A Festivus for the rest of us!"
KRAMER: That musta been some kind of doll.
FRANK: She was.
[Scene Break, cuts back to scene minutes later]
FRANK: And at the Festivus dinner, you gather your family around, and you tell them all the ways they have disappointed you over the past year.
KRAMER: Is there a tree?
FRANK: No. Instead, there's a pole. It requires not decoration. I find tinsel distracting.
KRAMER: Frank, this new holiday of yours is scratching me right where I itch.
Right where I itch, indeed.

Since Festivus and its nomenclature are the progentior of everything we have been doing here at the AofG we have designated it one of the two major holidays on the AofG calendar(along with May 6th, Gordon Gekko's Birthday).

So grab your aluminum pole, and your placard, and fight for your right to Festivus. Like Kozmo, Cozmo implores you all to fight for your right to enjoy Festivus. We will be coming in throughout the day with special Festivus themed events including your very own Airing of Grievances, and a very special Feats of Strength.

It's a Festivus For The Rest of Us!
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Wednesday, December 22, 2004
Is Bush Losing It?
Check him out at the 16:47 mark of the video linked to here. Anybody have a clue what the man is doing? Bizarre.
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Gem of the Ocean

A gem of a show. August Wilson's latest on Broadway. Outstanding. If you're in New York over the holidays, and have an opportunity to see a show, you should definitely give it some consideration. Fair warning though, it's not all "puppies and rainbows."

(Quality reviews here and here.)
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The Perfect Stocking Stuffer
Rats. That's right, some San Francisco rats, 38 of 'em to be exact, are available for adoption. And with 168 of 'em already out the door, I'd say you best not waste anytime. But before you get your hopes up, you should know that adopting one of the little fellers is really no walk in the park. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
On Tuesday at high noon, the rats became eligible for adoption by the public. Lindsay duPont and her mother, Lisa, drove all the way from their San Ramon home, looking for just the right rat.

First, they had to run the rat adoption gantlet -- filling out rat forms, answering rat questions and presenting their rat cage for inspection. The rat adoption form has 114 interrogatories, including an entire category titled "hopes and expectations'' for prospective rat owners. Then there's the fee of $10 per rat, which tends to weed out snake owners posing as rat lovers in order to get their hands on something to toss to their snakes.

The duPonts passed muster, and their money was good. They were escorted upstairs to the rats.
Well, at least this gives yours truly something to look forward to. For as long as I remember, the only thing I've been getting in the 'ole stocking is some coal. But this year, there just might be something new. A furry little friend. Wonderful.
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As Griever BV who passed this story along asked: "When do folks begin to take responsibility for their own actions?"

Accountability. It really is a wonderful thing.
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Prepare Yourselves

It's coming.
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How Can They Learn?
Students in schools like Lafayette High in the Brooklyn, that is. According to the NY Daily News, "a dean at violence-plagued Lafayette was shoved into an elevator shaft yesterday while trying to break up a wild cafeteria melee." The same Lafayette where in one semester seven students were beaten so badly they had to be hospitalized. The same Lafayette where safety agents have confiscated knives, box cutters and brass knuckles. The same Lafayette where two girls were recently involved in a bat fight. The same Lafayette that averages one violent incident every three days.

The real shame here is that for students at schools such as Lafayette it's nearly impossible for learning to be their primary concern. I mean really, how could it be? When you go to school everyday with the real possibility of being shoved down and elevator shaft, hit with a bat, cracked with a pair of brass knucks, shanked with a box cutter -- sheesh, as I type, I'm picturing something more along the lines of an urban war zone than an institution of learning -- how can you possibly focus on your studies?

The even sadder thing is that this type of craziness has been going on since before I can remember. When I was boy, my father taught in a East New York public school and he'd consistently come home with similar disturbing tales. Gang fights in the cafeteria. Confiscation of guns. Students beating up students. Students beating up teachers. The horrors go on, and on, and on, and on. Our inner city public school system has long since been broken. One generation after another lost to the violence. Little, if any, signs of hope. How can they learn?
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Tuesday, December 21, 2004
The Problem Child
Born and bred in Queens, but transplanted to Strong Island. The Problem Child. A 14 year-old rapper who claims that "money is the root of all evil." Surprisingly, The PC is having some trouble acclimating to his new surroundings. From the NY Post:
"If you're not in Abercrombie shirts and tight jeans, you're not welcome. I wear baggy jeans and sometimes bandanas. These kids in BMWs their daddies bought them tried to intimidate me."
Be sure to check out the article. High comedy.
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A Gang Green Grievance

The Golden Boy of the New York Jets ripped the New York media a new one yesterday. From where I sit, Pennington was pretty much out of line. As entertaining and on point as his rant may have been, it certainly displayed some questionable form. Yeah, of course there are some assholes in the press, but Pennington has a helluva lot less standing than most to take them to task. The kid, or, more accurately, The Chosen One, has been given the royal treatment since Day One. And his whole "privilege" angle -- "You took that job. You have an opportunity to be around some of the greatest athletes in the world. That's an opportunity. It's not your right. It is a privilege." -- is really a little bit ludicrous. Maybe I'm being crazy here, but I'm thinking that a dude who gets paid millions of dollars a year to play a game is about the last person who should be chucking around the privilege card. In any event, let's hope he puts this nonsense behind him and get his act together for the Pats, the Playoffs and, yes, the Super Bowl.
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Merry Christmas
Lest any of our conservative Christian readers were planning a boycott, we thought we'd wish you Grievers a very Merry Christmas. Enjoy.
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Awwww, how sweet. The Red King playing the sentimental card to defend his little Rummy. From yesterday's press conference:
"You know, sometimes perhaps his demeanor is rough and gruff, but beneath that rough and gruff, no-nonsense demeanor is a good human being who cares deeply about the military and deeply about the grief that war causes."
'Scuse me while I get a Kleenex.
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For those of you AofG'ers living in the Northeast, you know precisely what I'm talkin'. Sheesh, talk about the bottom falling out. It's friggin' hellacious out there. A completely different type of animal. The brickest of the brick.

Had to walk about ten blocks tonight to catch some din-din and a show. And like the jackass that I am, I left the house this morning without a hat, gloves or a scarf. Needless to say, the trek was beyond brutal. Felt like my face was gonna fall off from like the tenth of a block point on.

So finally, after popping into two different stores to avoid certain death, I hit the ten block spot. Yes. I'm here. 244 West 48th right? Nope. 244 is a friggin' nail salon. My knucklehead brother sent me to the wrong address. Just might have to kill him. Too bad he can kick my ass. Anyways, had to double back three blocks and an avenue. Horrible times. Shit, just might try and kill him anyhow. And I'm sure those of you who were out there braving that mess tonight can relate.

In any event, my thoughts and prayers go out to anyone sleeping on those streets tonight. God bless them. Seriously.
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Breakup The Knicks

Well, not really. But a legitimate buzz surrounding the Knickerbockers is once again present on Fashion Avenue. And hey, I'm about as big of a Isiah detractor as there is out there -- the day he was hired and Scott Layden fired, my reaction was "out of the fire, into the frying pan" -- but the man definitely deserves his due for bringing some respectability back to the NBA at MSG. Here's a nice Times article detailing his work.

Oh yeah, in case you were questioning Isiah's work, have a look at what Olympian Carmelo Anthony has to say about the Knickerbockers' backcourt: "That's a hell of a duo right there: Marbury, Crawford, and Houston." Nice.
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Monday, December 20, 2004
Emporio Tim Allen
Most Manhattanites could give a crap about "big box" stores. If we were so inclined to to buy five gallons of mayonnaise, we would drive to Yonkers. Frankly, if it weren't for the prices, I would take the Korean Market over a Super Walmart any day of the week. Everything you want is within easy reach (if not so easy to find), you don't have to talk to some octogenarian with a sub-funded retirement plan at the door, and you can get goofy Asian junk like ginseng Royal Jelly. Try sourcing gingko paste in your local Walmart.

But Home Depot is coming through with something totally unexpected - a big box store that Manhattanite might actually like. They have taken the ENTIRE basement of the recently completed Bloomberg building, across from the professional Architects and Designers building on 59th & 3rd Avenue. It also happens on being on my walk to and from work. I decided to check it out.

+ = ?

108,000 sq. ft. of hardware goodness awaited me after going into the earth 50 feet. The store displays the very highest end fixtures that "big box" vendors like Kohler and HunterDouglas has to offer. The place is filled to the brim with crown moldings, $5,000 rugs and $10,000 bathtubs, and $1,000 faucets. It is bright and clean and sports 20 foot high ceilings, quite a luxury in the big town. It is really something, and I was shocked to see myself actually enjoying strolling through the wiiiiide lanes.

As to whether or not it will work, that remains another question. It seems to me that the whole value proposition of a "big box" retailer like The Home Depot is undermined by urban economies - not the least of which is the rent that 108,000 sq. ft. across the street from Bloomingdales in midtown HAS to be 20-25 times their normal rent for a space like that - but there are others. For example, the type of person in NYC who would buy a $10,000 bathtub is certainly not going to be installing it himself - in fact, their interior designer probably picked it out as well as a dozen other unique things for that particular bathroom, so the people Home Depot is trying to appeal to will not even be the purchaser of these goods they are selling. Moreover, you can get alot of the products they sell for less money from specialty retailers like Gracious Home and ABC Carpet. Oh, and not the least of which is that most Home Depots are desitnation stores that people drive to, here it is just another part of a jingoistic professional world of contractors and designers that may or may not take to smiling people in orange aprons. Now I'm not saying that The Home Depot is going to exactly fail in NYC, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were trying to "restructure" their lease in a year or two.
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So, a quick 3:30 errand run was useful, and I saw alot of old friends randomly on the street. Another reason to love the big town - running into people you haven't seen in a while on the street.

Then, as I was walking back to the office with a steaming $4 caffe mocha from Starbucks - WHAM - there he was, "Elegant" Elliot Offen, Howard Stern wack-pack member and freak extrodinaire, joggind down the street in nothing but a red slip, support hose and stage make-up. Elelgant Elliot was looking not unlike this picture, (not pleasant) just in nikes not stacked heels. Oh yeah, it is 12 degrees outside with a windchill of -5. Needless to say, I spilled my $4 mocha. Thanks, Freak.
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Blogged Down
Here's a nice editorial from Michael Kinsley paying homage to the blogosphere. While I can see why Kinsley would say that "Web bulletin boards are more about the opportunity to talk than about the opportunity to listen", I wonder if that's a bit of an overstatement. Yes, one of the greatest wonders of web discussion is the ability to talk completely unfettered -- the opportunity to make your points as freely and as accurately as possible without interruption. But once your point has been made, you have a unique opportunity to sit back, listen and learn from a wealth of similarly unrestricted, well-thought out and carefully-crafted opinions. To me, that's one of the most satisfying aspects of AofG -- that is, to listen and learn from what Frank, Cozmo and you Grievers have to say. Of course, there will always be those who simply post their thoughts and could care less about the opinions of others, but I think over here at AofG such individuals are the exception rather than the norm. To me, this whole deal is just as much about listening as it is about talking. Perhaps even moreso. And with that said, of course, I'm curious as to what y'all think.
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Many a time, Cozmo and wife have been accosted by the image of a woman clad only in a black garbage bag lying pathetically across the sidewalk on fifth avenue. Not one to give money to beggars (I usually offer to buy them food and scoff at them if they refuse the kind offer), but she is always at an inconenient place for other options, so I am sure that I have given this haggard woman at least $1.50 in change over the years.

I was not all that shocked this morning to find out that she is, in fact, a con-artist who changes into brand new designer clothes in a phone booth after begging for a few hours. Sweet.

When confronted with her conning, the Fifth avenue faker lied like her name was Cheney, saying that she was no con woman at all. Whatever. Personally, I want my $1.50 back.
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What's that pictured above? A Zamboni exploding. That's right, an ice resurfacing machine exploded Sunday night in Duluth sending one "broomball player" to the hospital. Broomball?

Anyways, on the topic of explosions, I just saw where the NY Daily News is reporting that according to former CIA counterterrorism official Michael Scheuer -- the same Michael Scheurer who took the Bush administation to task in Imperial Hubris -- "recent tapes from Al Qaeda's top kingpins could mean that a spectacular strike against the U.S. is imminent." (My emphasis.)

Now granted, it is the Daily News, and it's not even close to Page 1 material, but do we really need to start with this could be imminent stuff again? It serves absolutely zero constructive purpose and I, for one, have had far more than enough of it already. Matter of fact, I could be ready to disembowel the next "reporter" I find pushing this "the sky is falling" crap. Perhaps I'll start with myself.
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Happy Holidays! Or Not.
According to The Los Angeles Times, in North Carolina and elsewhere, conservative Christians are launching campaigns to boycott stores that greet shoppers with "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." Here's what a couple of "leaders" of the movement have to say:

"It is apartheid in reverse—the majority is being bullied by the minority," says Pastor Patrick Wooden', the pastor who organized the boycott. "If they want the gold, frankincense and myrrh, they should acknowledge the birth of the child."

"It's a cultural war. We are in the thick of it," said the Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of Raleigh North Carolina. "It's not so much an attack on us. It's an attack on Christ."
Apartheid? And attack on Christ? Seriously, where do these people come from?
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Saturday, December 18, 2004
Cheerleaders Gone Wild

The incredibly wise Cyndi Lauper once said, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Well, here's a little something to support that timeless proposition. According to the Boston Herald:

Less than a month after a group of high school football cheerleaders was busted for boozing before a big game, two pompom-toting girls who cheer for the [Danvers-MA] basketball team reportedly have been booted from the squad for making a too-hot-for-local-cable-access-channel video.

Students who've seen the controversial flick said the scantily clad juniors - naked from the waist up - made a steamy video off campus, possibly over the summer. It was e-mailed from student to student about two weeks ago. The video shows one of the barely dressed cheerleaders kissing the breasts of the other, according to one student.
Is anybody else in the AofG thirty-something set thinking that we were born at precisely the wrong time? I mean, we just miss the free love, drug and sex days of the 60's and 70's. Instead, as we come down the high school and college pike, the whole fear of STD's and safe-sex thing is at like such an all-time high that even yours truly had some difficulty getting some. And now that our best days are behind us, it seems as if the free sex days are pretty much back (with designer drugs taking the place of the organic ones) and high school girls making lesbian porn apparently for school wide distribution. Color me jealous. Very.
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Unit On The Way To The Boogie Down

According to the NY Daily News, the deal is done. The Yanks will be giving up Javy Vazquez, Dioner Navarro as well as Eric Duncan for Randy Johnson and Kaz Ishii. And considering that I'm firmly embedded in the "win now" camp, I absolutely love the deal. Yes, they're giving away two of the very limited farm chips that they have (Navarro and Duncan) and yes, maybe Javy shines again away from the spotlight (because lord knows he suffered from deer-in-the-headlightsitis more than just about any New York athlete ever) or maybe, but very doubtfully, he would have put it together here, but without question, this makes the Yankees significantly better going into 2005. They've gotta be heavily favored to take home the hardware. If they pick up Beltran too, fuggheddaboutit.

A few additional points. First, if Johnson stays healthy (a big if) he wins at least 25 games. Second, for those bitching about the Yanks and their embarassment of riches, I say to you, quite simply, don't hate the playa, hate the game. Third, I'm pretty sure that Derek Jeter's status as matinee idol of the Yankees is pretty much secure. Egads.
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Friday, December 17, 2004
Stem Cell Funding: What A Waste
For once, I'm with W on something - there is no fuckin' way I want to see my federal tax dollars going towards research that produces medical miracles as frivolous and depressing as this one.

Apparently microscopic, undeveloped life on a cellular level comes cheap in these outposts of brutish Euro socialism.
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Thursday, December 16, 2004
Rummy 500
The conservative tide that is building to sweep Dickbag-in-Chief Donald Rumsfeld out of a job has shown all the laserlike coordination and execution of a gang bang. McCain took his shot on Sunday, Bill Kristol got sloppies in his Washington Post editorial yesterday, and, today, Trent Lott gets his freak on.
"I'm not a fan of Secretary Rumsfeld," Lott, R-Miss., told the Biloxi Chamber of Commerce. "I don't think he listens enough to his uniformed officers."
"I would like to see a change in that slot in the next year or so," Lott said. "I'm not calling for his resignation, but I think we do need a change at some point."
The interesting part of this progression is how the politics of each respective participant slides further to the right with each passing potshot. Who's next? Rick Santorum? The corpse of George Lincoln Rockwell?
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More Fun From The Bench
Well, it looks like we have another judge wearing an outfit that's creating quite a stir. Judge Ashley McKathan of Alabama's Covington County Circuit Court has been donning a robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered on his chest. And guess who's one of McKathan's biggest supporters? Roy Moore. Yup, the same yahoo who was removed from the bench last year for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery. And if you listen to the both of 'em, really, you should have little, if anything, to be concerned about.

McKathan told The Associated Press that he believes the Ten Commandments represent the truth "and you can't divorce the law from the truth. The Ten Commandments can help a judge know the difference between right and wrong," McKathan said."
"The recognition of the God who gave us the Ten Commandments is fundamental to an understanding of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. I applaud Judge McKathan. It is time for our judiciary to recognize the moral basis of our law," Moore said.
Crystal clear from those statements that McKathan will be perfectly capable of basing his decisions on the rule of law and a little something called logic, rather than his Christian beliefs. Also crystal clear, this time minus the sarcasm, that McKathan and Moore are convinced that somehow they are above the Constitution -- that The Establishment Clause does not apply to them. In any event, so long as McKathan shamelessly persists in using his robe as a religious billboard, he should be receiving the same boot that disposed of his boy Roy Moore. And that, my friends, is the truth.
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Floral Foul-Up: Beyond The Pale
This is absolutely, positively, ridiculous. No way, no how was this unintentional. Completely, and I mean completely, unacceptable. Just absolutely outrageous. Good god.

(Note: When I first posted this link, I thought I saw the hints of a swatstika in the red flowers. As such, I thought the flowers looked a little weird, but that perhaps things were not really that egregious and characterized the deal as "unfortunate." But thanks to M. Butler's, Puddy's and Bobby P's Comments I went back and took another look. I noticed the white and I was utterly appalled. Hence the revised post. Unreal).
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Another AofG Endorsement & Some NY Goodness

For Brooklyn. Not the borough, but the Broadway musical. I'm usually not a musical guy, but I caught it last night and thought it was fantastic. Nice little tribute to the borough, nice little story -- an urban fairy tale that really is quite delightful --and, most notably, an outstanding five-person cast. Two of the solos and one of the duets were some of the most powerful renditions I've ever heard on Broadway. Not so much the content, but the delivery. The range, boundless. The passion, palabale and pure. Just some very powerful stuff.

Unfortunately, the theater was pretty much empty. Perhaps this was because it was a frigid Wednesday night; however, if Brooklyn is simply suffering from consistently poor turnout that really would be a shame. Those five phenoms certainly deserve more than a brief Broadway run. Here's hoping that they have one.

Funny New York moment prior to the show. We had just taken our seats and Big Brother Chiles and I started chuckling about how the lady doing the seating was taking her job just a tad bit too seriously. So, this guy comes up with his girl, walks right past the Usher Nazi and proceeds to pop a squat in one of the empty seats. The UN quickly followed behind.

"Excuse me sir, is that your seat." "No." "Well, you're going to have to move to the seat for which you purchased tickets." Then, in a pleading high-pitched voice, with his girlfriend by his side already showing signs of the "please stop, you're embarrasing me" face, "But there's nobody here. The show's about to start and nobody's here, just let us sit here." "No sir, you'll have to sit in your assigned seat." "Are you kidding me? Nobody's here." "Sir, people are picky about their seats and if they come in during the show ..." "They can just sit somewhere else, like there, there, there, there, there, there -- (with each "there" demonstratively pointing to a different empty seat). I paid full price for my tickets and you're giving me a hard time? Maybe I just should return them and you guys could lose some more money." "Do you want to return your tickets, sir?" "Can I?" "Yes sir, come with me." "Listen, this is ridiculous, I paid money to see the show and you're treating me like this. Look around you there's nobody here, this is where I'm sitting." "Mike. Mike. Mike." So Mike comes down. "Mike, this gentlemen will not sit in his assigned seat." "What seems to be the problem, sir." .... "Sorry, sir you have to sit in your assigned sit or we're going to have to ask you to leave." "That's absurd. I paid money, you're losing money and I can't sit here even though nobody's here? Fine, whatever." So he begins walking to his seat and not too quietly exclaims, "The guy must have an IQ of a fucking gnat!"

All in all, a nice little perfomance by him. Some pure well-reasoned New York obnoxiousness gets the job done every time. Almost as good as the show we paid for. Well, not really, but I think you get my point.

Full Disclosure: The few reviews I read prior to the show did not quite agree with my assessment. Some of that may be attributable to a generational thing -- as this review from New York Magazine suggests. Me and the Big Bro loved it. The Grandparents not so much. Mama and Papa Chiles really liked it too -- they're cool like that.
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Wednesday, December 15, 2004
What A Difference A Letter Makes
The world is going crazy all around us, but at least events leading up to elections in Iraq are silky smooth. Right? Right? Wrong. After two days of bombings inflicting multiple casualties in areas bordering Baghdad's Green Zone (the equivalent, from a security standpoint, to blowing shit up on the sidewalk in front of the White House) and an assassination attempt on a Shi'ite cleric today, one gets the impression that things in East Texas are just about ready to go completely pear-shaped (as opposed to mostly pear-shaped) anytime now.

The Boy King has responded with a vague, empty threat:
"We will continue to make it clear to both Syria and Iran that ... meddling in the internal affairs of Iraq is not in their interests," Bush said in Washington without elaborating.
Well, clearly it is in their interests, since they border Iraq, 60% of Iraq shares a common religious bond with the majority of Iran and you've gone so far as to single them out. Whatever. We can't rely on W to understand all of the many idiosyncracies of realpolitik and how the world really works.

But what of Iran? In my continuing effort to link to at least one Atlantic Monthly piece a month, I give you James Fallows' excellent "Will Iran Be Next?" Fallows writes of a war game exercise conducted recently, with military and public policy experts participating and playing the roles of the most senior Cabinet and national security officials who would have an interest and input in to any decisions made with regard to Iran. The question: how to dissuade and deter Iran from furthering its nuclear ambitions.

Short version: beyond an extremely careful game of carrot and stick, we're pretty much SOL. That whole "stretching our military and diplomatic options too thin with an unpopular, misguided invasion and cocked-up occupation of a non-threat" thing coming back to bite us in the ass.

But hey, I trust these guys to take the smart, prudent course of action. Don't you?
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