Archive for the 'strange news' Category

New twist on an old scam

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Look out, Nigeria; Iraq is stealing your scam. I received the following email today allegedly offering me the chance to get my hands on bagfuls of $100 bills from a secret stash of twenty-five million bucks once belonging to Saddam Hussein (I’m certain he had stacks of U.S. currency just laying around one of his palaces that no one discovered before now). Sadly, even though this hoax and its numerous variations have been debunked so widely and for so long that it’s hard to believe anyone could still fall for it, some greedy, clueless person probably will be duped into turning over their bank account information to this con artist (and I use the word “artist” loosely):

Hey Buddy,

This mail may not be surprising to you if you have been following current events in the international media with reference to the Middle East and Iraq in particular. I am Sgt Lee Boyd, I am a soldier And photo journalist, serving in the military. I am with the 248th Engineer corp. in the National Guard. I am writing this message from Ar-ramadi in Iraq. We hit Iraq May 2003 and have moved around a few times building up f.o.b. around the western side of the country as well as missions into Baghdad. With attacks by insurgents everyday and car bombs, We Managed to move funds belonging to Saddam Hussein Family. The total amount is Twenty-five Million US dollars in cash, mostly Hundred Dollar bills. We want to move this money out of Iraqi. No strings attached, just help us receive it, Iraq is a war zone although partially ended. We plan on using diplomatic courier to ship the money out in one large silver box, using Diplomatic Immunity. If you are interested I will send you the full details, when you receive this letter signifying your interest including your most confidential telephone/fax numbers for quick response also your contact details. In case you don’t accept please do not let me out to the Security and international media as I am giving you this information in total Trust and Confidence. I look forward to your prompt favorable response. Thanks for your understanding.

Yours Respectfully,
Sgt Lee Boyd

So, “Sgt. Boyd”, how do you like my “prompt favorable response” by posting it on my blog, sucka? I might also add that I’m especially impressed with your Inappropriate Use of Capital Letters.

Another common fraud is the “sweepstakes” ploy. The victim receives a notice, often originating from a foreign country such as Canada or the Netherlands, that they have won a huge cash prize of a hundred thousand dollars or more in a national lottery. The letter is accompanied by a very genuine-looking check for $1,000 or so. The victim is instructed to cash or deposit the check and send part of the funds back to cover “fees” so that the balance of the prize money can be sent. The “fee” is relatively small compared to the enclosed check, perhaps one or two hundred dollars. Of course, several weeks later the check is returned as bogus and the victim is out the “fee” as well as unpaid check charges from their bank. Amazingly, quite a few people have been taken recently by this scam.

As Will Rogers revised the old idiom, “a fool and his money are soon elected.”

Shiver me timbers

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006

My apologies for the lack of postage recently … have been in somewhat of a creative slump of late, which hopefully will be improving soon. In the meantime, I’m taking some time today to celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day, a fun holiday where one tries to use as may Pirate phrases as possible during normal conversation. I mean, how many times have you wanted to tell your boss or a co-worker to “Avast, landlubber and walk the plank, ye scurvy dog!!”? Well today you can, with no consequences. The day has even been adopted by the Long John Silver’s restaurant chain, who have been talking like Pirates since way back in 1969.

Here’s a few other general-purpose Pirate phrases you can use today:

• “Well I’ll be hornswaggled!”
• “Hoist the Jolly Roger, matey!”
• “Yo ho ho and a bottle o’ rum!”
• “Aye, me barnacle-covered bucko!”
• “Hang ‘im from the yardarm!”

If all else fails, try this handy translator. Or see another at this site. In any case, today’s the day to plan on some serious pillagin’, plunderin’ and consumin’ o’ the rum!

Arrrrrr!

Dude, your Dell’s on fire

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

I happen to use a Dell Inspiron laptop, and very often while composing these demented ramblings, I have noted that my lap gets very hot. (There’s a joke there somewhere, but I’m going to pass on it.) I mean seriously hot, to the point where if the machine were sitting on my bare-skinned leg, unprotected by a layer of denim, we might be talking about some third-degree burns here. So I was somewhat concerned when I read this story today about a similar machine which literally caught on fire and exploded at a business conference in Japan (slightly more technical article here). According to an eyewitness, “The damn thing was on fire and produced several explosions for more than five minutes.”

Dell technicians are looking into the matter, according to a statement by the company. “We have captured the notebook and have begun investigating the event,” Dell spokeswoman Anne Camden said, confirming the computer was made by Dell but declining to specify the model.

Although no one was hurt in this incident, it is well-known that excessive heat has been a continuing problem with certain Dell machines and batteries. More than 22,000 batteries and over a million AC adapters have been recalled by the company due to concerns over just such an occurance.

It is extremely fortunate that this did not happen on an airplane, although one now must wonder if such an event is just a matter of time. I think I am going to keep a fire extinguisher next to the chair I usually sit in while using my computer, just in case.

Rumor has it that the next model of Dell laptop will be named “The Hindenbook”.

Poetic Justice

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

How embarrassing is this? Conservative gas-bag Rush Limbaugh was detained for more than three hours Monday at Palm Beach International Airport, after authorities found a bottle of Viagra in his possession without a prescription. The private plane carrying the 55-year-old radio talk-show host had just arrived from the Dominican Republic and was being inspected by U.S. Customs agents, who found the unlabeled bottle of Viagra in Limbaugh’s luggage.

The drugs were confiscated, and Limbaugh was released without being charged; however, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office plans to file a report with the state attorney’s office for possible indictment on a second-degree misdemeanor violation.

Limbaugh had reached a deal last month with prosecutors who had accused him of “doctor-shopping” in order to receive illegal overlapping painkiller prescriptions. The charges were to be dismissed after 18 months of good behavior, as long as Limbaugh submitted to random drug tests; however this incident is likely to wreck any such deal.

Now if someone would only please arrest Ann Coulter. Her hate-filled, bigoted, sexist, and lewd speech, if not illegal, is certainly more offensive than El Rushbo getting clipped with a bogus bottle of Poke.

Unfortunate ad placement

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

I was reading the Sunday paper today when I came upon an article about a truly vile sect of American religious whackos. Rev. Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, are a church of hate, and a shameful embarrassment to those of any faith — especially Baptists whose name this so-called “minister” claims to represent. In addition to the usual garbage condemning Jews and homosexuals, Phelps and his followers (mostly his relatives) are particularly reviled for their habit of picketing the funerals of American soldiers killed in the line of duty in Iraq. They insult the families and other mourners of these victims by showing up with large signs reading “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”, and “God Hates Your Tears”.

The 76-year old Phelps, a disbarred former attorney, thinks that God hates you and you’re a sinner who is going to hell. Period. He and his followers have at least a 15-year history of preaching such hatred and intolerance; they have demonstrated at the memorial service for television’s “Mr. Rogers” (claiming he deserved to die for his failure to condemn homosexuality), as well as at services for 9/11 victims and West Virginia miners. Phelps claims that natural disasters are righteous fate visited upon depraved humanity by a vengeful God. “We pray for more tornados,” he recently told an Associated Press reporter. “We pray for more hurricanes, that Katrina was just a tiny little preamble.”

The man disgusts me, and I find it hard to believe that anyone could spew such venom in the name of God. The only other possible explanation, which I prefer to think, is that he simply is insane. Fortunately, Phelps and his flock of lunatics are out there alone; no other religious group has endorsed their views.

But that is not what amazed me the most about this story, nor the reason I am writing this post. No. This post is a plea for newspaper copywriters and editors to be more careful about page layout and composition. Look at the scan of the article below which features a prominent color photo of Westboro followers holding up their signs outside a Veteran’s Administration building in Iowa.

Then look at the paid advertisement directly below the picture.

An unfortunate coincidence for Bro. Clark and First Penecostal Church, and I have a feeling some hell is definitely going to be raised at the newspaper office on Monday morning.

A pimple on Goliath

Saturday, April 22nd, 2006

Check out this amazing video clip which purports to show hooded pranksters scaling a fence and painting graffiti on the engine cowling of Air Force One. It’s an elaborate hoax: the filmmakers rented a 747 Jumbo Jet and painted it in the colors of Bush’s plane to make the video in San Bernadino, California. But the result was so real-looking, the Air Force had to check to make sure the slogan “Still Free” hadn’t actually been plastered on the side of the “real” plane.

“I wanted to do something culturally significant, wanted to create a real pop-culture moment,” said Marc Ecko of Marc Ecko Enterprises, who staged the spoof. “It’s this completely irreverent, over-the-top thing that could really never happen: this five-dollar can of paint putting a pimple on this Goliath.”

The two-minute clip has been circulating on the Internet for several days, generating much speculation as to how the most heavily guarded aircraft in the world could have been “tagged”. It was only on Friday that the prank was revealed. While Ecko declined to state how much it cost to rent the cargo jet for the video, he did say “It’s not cheap. You have to be rich.”

In the words of Bono, “fucking brilliant.”

Yes, some people really are that stupid

Thursday, April 20th, 2006

Occasionally, I stumble upon a news item that causes me grave concern for the future of our species. This is one of those stories. In Miami, a 76-year old man has been arrested for passing himself off as a doctor — by going door to door offering free breast exams. Allow me to pause for a moment to let that sink in.

Dum-de-dum, la de da….

OK. Yes, that’s right, this guy was going door-to-door offering free breast exams, and at least two (possibly more) women actually took him up on it. From the article:

One woman became suspicious after the man asked her to remove all her clothes and began conducting a purported genital exam without donning rubber gloves, investigators said. The woman then phoned the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, and the suspect fled.

For the men in the audience who are laughing so hard right now that they may not be able to fully comprehend this, imagine the following scenario: a stranger carrying a black bag shows up at your door claiming to be from the local hospital. He says, “Hey, it’s your lucky day, Mack. I’m offering free circumcisions today.” He then proceeds to take out a dull pocket knife, a used handkerchief, and a bottle of Listerine.

You say, “Sure, no problem,” and drop your drawers.

Actually, this ploy was used in a funny and effective video for Breast Cancer awareness, but to think that anyone would be dumb enough to actually do this simply restores one’s faith in the innate stupidity of mankind.

Some of the more cynical among us never lost it in the first place.

Ripped from the headlines!

Monday, March 6th, 2006

In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories. (blink BLINK!)

Yes friends, it’s time for the TRUE CRIME DRAMA of Law and Disorder in the House!

Like most small-town newspapers, our local rag publishes a daily police blotter. Wars, corporate scandal, political intrigue, and other big-time news may be happening elsewhere in the world, but these are the events that occupy the attention of law enforcement personnel and other concerned citizens here at home. Keep in mind that this is not a tiny village I live in, but a medium-size city of approximately 40,000 people. Therefore, it’s often truly mind-boggling to read what prompts someone to call the authorities — as the following items culled verbatim from several days worth of actual police logs will attest. Note: names and addresses have been removed to protect the “innocent” (ha!), and my snarky comments (because, after all, what would this blog be without them?) are in italics.

• Public intoxication. Officers observed a staggering man enter a local convenience store and attempt to buy beer. The man performed a field sobriety test for officers and was found to be intoxicated. (Note to self: don’t stagger into store to buy beer while stupid-ass drunk.)

• Credit card abuse. A woman reported that someone charged items to her credit card without her permission.

• Theft, XXXX Funeral Home. Someone cut the ropes to both flag poles and stole the American and Texas flags.

• Theft of a firearm. A known person removed a firearm from the complainant’s home and sold it.

• Public intoxication, criminal trespass. A woman reported that a known person was seen on her property after previously receiving a criminal trespass warning. (Huh?)

• Assault/family violence. A woman reported that her common-law husband pushed her in an offensive manner. (Is there an “inoffensive” manner to be pushed?)

• Assault. Officers were dispatched in reference to an assault, but the woman did not wish to file charges.

• Theft, XXXX’s Store. Someone drove off without paying for gas.

• Breach of computer security. A man reported that someone was trying to gain access to his computer via the Internet. (The Internet! Shocking!)

• Telephone harassment warning. A woman reported that her former mother-in-law was calling and harassing her. Officers issued a warning to the mother-in-law, but she contacted the victim 15 minutes later. A warrant was requested. (Damn those pesky mothers-in-law!)

• Criminal mischief. Unknown persons smashed two mailboxes Thursday night.

• Criminal mischief. Unknown persons keyed the complainant’s car while she was in the mall.

• Possession of marijuana. Officers contacted a couple in a parking lot who were arguing and the male had outstanding warrants. Upon arrest he was also found to have marijuana in his pocket. (Reminder to self: don’t argue in public with someone while carrying a pocket full of dope.)

• Identity theft. Unknown persons used the victim’s drivers license, on several occasions, to cash personal checks that were also the victim’s.

• Assault. A man forcibly removed his sister from his apartment and she alleged that he threw her out. An arrest was made. (Say wha?)

• Public intoxication, XXXX Club. Officers were dispatched in reference to a disturbance at the club. Upon arrival, officers arrested four intoxicated individuals in the parking lot.

• Identity theft. A woman’s bank account had been used to access pornography on the Internet. (Damn that Internet … again!)

• Theft of service. The complainant offered personal credit card information to a company claiming to be based in Arizona, which promised that the complainant could “make money fast.” The complainant has not received any money. (The e-mail no doubt came from Nigeria.)

• Harassment by phone. A woman received several unwanted calls from an unknown person. (Yes ma’am. We should have no trouble nailing that one down.)

• Recovered property. A man found a safe in a wooded area off of the road.

• Theft, Public Library. The complainant said he left his cell phone unattended near the library, and when he returned his phone was missing. There are no suspects.

• Telephone harassment. An unknown person called the complainant from a pay phone and made obscene remarks. There are no suspects. (How did they know it was a pay phone?)

• Dog bite. A woman reported that she had been bitten by her friend’s dog.

• Dog bite. A man was bit in the face by a dog at his friend’s house. (Same dog, maybe?)

• Assault (threat). A woman said that her boyfriend was intoxicated and he threatened to knock her teeth out. (Awwww…a lover’s quarrel – how sweet.)

• Public intoxication, Club XXXX. An intoxicated male was seen attempting to leave in his vehicle.

• Disturbance, (same club). A patron and a bartender had a physical altercation. (Note to self: QUIT HANGING OUT AT THAT CLUB!)

• Found property, McDonald’s Restaurant. A homeless man found a checkbook with a signed blank check in the parking lot.

• Criminal trespass and interfering with an emergency call. A man forced his way into his girlfriend’s house after being warned that he was not allowed. He then prevented her from calling 911, according to the report.

• Theft, XXXX Grocery Store. The suspect took items from the store and ate them in the bathroom, according to the report. (Sheesh. How hungry and broke have you gotta be to…oh, wait, it must have been a college student.)

• Criminal mischief, XXXX University. Vehicles in the parking lot were shot with paintballs. There are no suspects.

• Theft, XXXX University. An All Permit Parking sign was found in a dorm room. (Campus criminals run amok!)

• Harassment, XXXX University. A woman had received unwanted e-mails. (Damn that cursed spam!)

and finally, my favorite:

• Driving while intoxicated, Jack-in-the-Box Restaurant. The suspect was found asleep in his vehicle with engine running at the drive-through. The suspect was intoxicated, according to the report. (“You want fries with that? Sir? Hello?”)

Gah! It should be clear by now that I am doomed to live in a dangerous, crime-infested cesspool. Quick, someone call Jack McCoy! (blink BLINK!)

Quote of the day

Wednesday, March 1st, 2006

“She has stepped into the only place in America where her breasts have no power.”

-Dahlia Lethwick, writing in Slate about Anna Nicole Smith’s appearance in the halls of the Supreme Court, which is to decide her landmark litigation seeking millions of dollars from her late husband’s estate. Read article here.

BEHOLD THE POWER OF THE DEMON BREASTS!

San Francisco: powered by pooch poop?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

San Francisco, already one of the most progressive places in America, is looking to boldly go where no other U.S. city has yet gone: converting dog poop into energy. Within a few months, Norcal Waste, a garbage hauling company that collects San Francisco’s trash, will begin a pilot program under which it will use biodegradable bags and dog-waste carts to pick up droppings at a popular dog park. The droppings will be tossed into a contraption called a methane digester, which is basically a tank in which bacteria feed on feces for weeks to create methane gas.

According to this Associated Press article, San Francisco canines produce roughly 6,500 tons of poop a year — which, if you think about it, is….well, maybe it would be better not to think about it, actually.

My favorite quote in the article comes from recycling consultant Will Brinton, who said the plan will “give value to something we’d rather not talk about. San Francisco is probably the king of pet cities. This could be very important to them.”

Mr. Brinton is saying, in other words: San Francisco, you’re full of (dog)shit.

Although the technology used to convert dog waste to methane has been used in Europe for the last 20 years, San Francisco will be the first U.S. city to try the operation on a wide scale.

No doubt, many jokes could be made of this — some having to do with feeding your dog burritos, BART accepting bags of poop in lieu of tickets, or possibly involving Paris Hilton, but I will leave such hilarity to your imagination. Although I do have one thing to say (and any regular reader of my blog will see this coming): if San Francisco is indeed successful in converting shit into energy, we should move immediately to set up a similar program in Washington, D.C. We wouldn’t need to import another single barrel of oil, ever again.

Random foolishness

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Herewith I present a collection of stray bits of flotsam and jetsam gathered from the Internet, and compiled for your enjoyment — which proves (yet once again) that I have way too much time on my hands:

1. A few weeks ago I was cable-channel-surfing and happened upon a favorite classic movie, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Even though I’ve seen it a gazillion times, I still enjoy watching Jack Nicholson’s character descend into madness. It’s some supa-fine acting — perhaps his signature role — and I didn’t mind sitting through it again. But by the same token, the film completely freaks out Mrs. Toast (especially the “Here’s Johnny” scene) who must leave the room if it’s on. So, imagine my delight the other day when I found something we can both watch together: The Shining, in 30 seconds, re-enacted by bunnies. Yep. See it here.

2. Speaking of actors, do you know of the Cult of Chuck Norris? Hell, we don’t need no stinkin’ U.S. Army to kick Iraqi butt! Just send in Chuck — alone — and he’ll own them goldurn terrorizin’ Islamo-Fascists. A few samples of little-known Chuck-factoids: There is no skin behind Chuck Norris’s beard, only another fist. Chuck Norris does not sleep – he waits. The three leading causes of death worldwide are (a) Heart Disease (b) Chuck Norris (c) Cancer. If you find any of this amusing, there’s more here.

3. How long would it take you to drive from L.A. to New York City? Could you do it in, oh, I dunno, four minutes? This guy did. Fascinating.

4. Let’s say you’re a computer genius who can install a complete Windows networking infrastructure with one hand while you flash a BIOS and format a hard drive with the other, using the keyboard with your toes to compile C+++ at the same time. People who don’t know RAM from a CD-ROM are always begging you to come to their homes and help them with their computers, but you don’t want to do it for free and you don’t really need the money. What you really want is to make it with hot chicks. Yeah, you’d totally fix computers for sex, ‘cuz you’re the hunky tech-support man-whore known as The IT Gigolo.

5. Speaking of sex, I must have died and gone to heaven because the object of my unrequited lust, Maria Sharapova, is one of the 2006 models in the new Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. Yeah baby! I will do my best to refrain from any smart-ass double entendres incorporating tennis terms, such as “grand slam”, “backhand”, “forty-love”, “mixed doubles”, “top stroke”, “seed”, or “sweet spot”. (Eh, too late.)

6. Also speaking of sex (are you noticing a theme here?) don’t be surprised if the next time you’re in a public place, someone nearby suddenly reaches into their pants and whips it out. Er, their cell phone, that is. Porn-to-go, euphoniously (pun intended) termed “mobile adult content” by the industry, is the Next Big Thing for those small cellular screens. If you’re intrigued by the idea of your cell phone turning you on instead of the other way around, have a look at this article.

7. And finally, this oldie-but-goodie from 2002 is still a good chuckle for those that may not have seen it — and it’s now even more relevant due to the recent “Dead-Eye Dick” Cheney Shootout at the Armstrong Corral. Let’s suppose for a moment that, God forbid, George W. Bush were to strangle his lovely wife Laura. How would the incident be reported by the mainstream media? Find out in Whacking Pickles. (“Pickles”, for anyone who may not know, is Dubya’s adorably cute li’l ol’ nickname for the First Lady. Awwwww. It beats “Turd Blossom”, I guess.)

Well there you have it, folks, another rousing edition of Mr. Toast’s Wacky Web Wanderings™. Look for this to become a semi-regular feature of this blog, as my inbox periodically overflows with strange crap that I don’t know what else to do with.

Slap your irritating co-worker day!

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Do you have a co-worker who talks nonstop about nothing, wearing you down to your last nerve with tedious and boring details that you don’t care about? Do you have a co-worker who ALWAYS screws up stuff creating MORE work for you? Do you have a co-worker who kisses so much ass, you can look in their mouth and see what your boss had for lunch? Do you have a co-worker who is SO obnoxious, when he/she enters a room, everyone else leaves? Well, I am very glad to announce today, Friday February 17th, is officially Slap Your Irritating Co-Worker Day! Here are the rules you must follow:

  • You can only slap one person per hour – no more.
  • You may slap the same person again if they irritate you again in the same day.
  • You are allowed to hold someone down as other co-workers take their turns slapping the irritant.
  • No weapons are allowed…going upside somebody’s head with a stapler or a hole-puncher may be tempting, but confine your behavior to bitch-slapping only.
  • If questioned by a supervisor (or police, if the supervisor is the irritant), you are allowed to LIE, LIE, LIE!

Now, study the rules, break out your list of folks that you want to slap the shit out of, and get busy.

Happy Slap Your Irritating Co-Worker Day!

New meaning for the phrase “IP address”

Thursday, February 9th, 2006

Every once in a while, someone comes out with a product that makes me want to smack myself upside the head and go, “why didn’t I think of that?”. Today we present such an item for your edification and amusement; big tip o’the Toast hat to Jim for the heads-up on this.

Imagine the following scenario: You’re on e-Bay bidding on a priceless Willet McFarkle machine. You’ve been searching for months, and have finally found one. With only minutes left to go in the auction and the current bid price at just $1.50, you can’t possibly leave your computer. But after three cups of coffee and a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, you’ve been crossing your legs for the last half hour and you just don’t know if you can make it. Well never fear, Pilgrim, the Internet Urinal is here!!

“Shopping, gaming, chat rooms, cyber-dating – the internet is such an addictive and time-consuming force, who’s got time to go? With the Internet Urinal, you’ll never have to leave your computer again. Imagine the freedom – destroy your enemies on network Quake without taking a break; drink as many cans of Jolt as you want and still be able to make that last important trade before the market closes. Each urinal is made with hard plastic and comes with a handy female adapter. Holds 32 oz. of liquid (the same as a Big Gulp!). Also great for road trips, stake outs, waiting in line for Star Wars tickets, and hundreds of other critical functions.”

This would be funny even if it wasn’t for real, which it is. If you find yourself having trouble holding it and can’t be bothered with the 5-yard dash to the bathroom, you can buy them here for the bargain price of only two (his & hers?) for $4.95. Oy, such a deal.

The joke potential for this product is seemingly endless, but in the interest of good taste (this blog? Ha!) I’m going to end the post here. Feel free to pick up the ball (ouch!) in the comments section.

Which of these images is more disturbing?

Monday, February 6th, 2006

In case you had any doubt that large portions of the world’s population are still living in the Stone Age, consider the growing protests and increasingly vitriolic reaction of Muslims to cartoons published in a Danish magazine depicting caricatures of the prophet Mohammed. While I understand how blasphemous this is considered by some, I have a hard time fathoming the depth of hatred that has been shown in response. “Massacre those who insult Islam”? How are we in the West supposed to have any sympathy for Islamic values when not just fundamentalists, but mainstream Muslims, espouse this point of view? It seems awfully hypocritical to be condemning the desecration of Mohammed while at the same time kidnapping and beheading innocent civilians, and carrying out suicide-bomb terrorism.

While tolerance, respect and cooperation have generally been the defining features of Muslim-Christian relations throughout history, there have also been periods of murder, intolerance and hostility on other occasions. There are those who believe that the stage is currently being set for an all-out Holy War between these two great religions, one that will make any previous dustups pale in comparison. Many are actively preparing for such conflict at this very moment, and there is certainly plenty of hatred to go around on both sides. Let us hope that calmer heads will prevail.

For those who may not have seen the cartoons and are wondering what all the fuss is about, you can view them here.

UPDATE 2/9/06!

How to resolve this dilemma? European Superman has the answer!

Somewhere in Europe: A political comic strip offends people of certain religion, Islam. The Muslims are angered, they rebel, they attack the embassies of certain European country. What it can be done, that will save the day? European Superman will come to rescue!

Somewhere in the Middle East:

Muslim: “We will kill all the European and we will eat its children.”

Second Muslims: “wait, which is that one back in the sky”

Muslim: “it is a bird, he is a plane, no he is Mohammed prophet.”

Second Muslims: “no, it is a bomber of the suicide.”

Muslim: “he is not neither, he is European Superman.”

European Superman: “Salaam, Muslims.”

Muslim: “Salaam, European Superman. In the name of the prophet.”

European Superman: “the Muslims, I know that you are angered on these comic strips. Listen, I lived in Europe under the Soviet domination. Religion, Islam, were suppressed by the government.

Muslim: “yes, it is.”

European Superman: “yes, only you will not solve to any thing burning itself the Danish Embassy. He must have a land of in the middle. I have solution to it the problem.”

Muslim: “which is that one?”

European Superman: “Europe must prohibit religious comic strips. And you must burn the Chinese embassy. China is communist, like Soviet union.”

Muslim: “the Chinese embassy, hah, why we did not think about that one?”

Second Muslims: “European Superman, you are wise truth.”

Gnome away from home

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2006

One of the reasons I love the Internet so much is that I am constantly discovering little nuggets of information that I never knew existed before. Here’s an example: just before the new year, I received the following e-mail from a friend in Houston:

“Our garden gnome, a memento of southern France & memorial to a deceased friend, has gone missing. Tuesday or Wednesday, we noticed that the fencing on the side of the house had been knocked over, as well as a pot on the garden side. This would have occurred in broad daylight. We suspected an agent of the gas company. Nothing seemed amiss until today when we noticed that the gnome had gone missing. Since it is not visible from the street and nothing else seems to have been touched, it could only have been removed by someone familiar with the garden, acting with specific intent. We hope and pray that the perpetrator of this ghastly deed understands both the physical and emotional needs of this object and that one day it finds its way home again. I don’’t expect that we will sleep well tonight in the knowledge that it is probably very frightened and confused.”

For some odd reason, this caused me to Google the phrase “stolen garden gnome“, and the results revealed a fascinating slice of life which I had not thought much about previously. Evidently, there are quite a few people (primarily in France, which says something right there) who earnestly believe that garden gnomes are victims of “oppressive”, evil homeowners, and must be “liberated from captivity”. Some kidnapped garden gnomes have been sent on trips around the world, being passed from person to person and photographed at different famous landmarks, with the photos being returned to the owner.

A little history: The first garden gnomes were introduced to the United Kingdom in 1847 by Sir Charles Isham, when he brought 21 terracotta figures back from a trip to Germany and placed them around the gardens of his home, Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire. Only one of the original batch of gnomes survives: Lampy, as he is known (left), is on display at Lamport Hall, and is insured for one million pounds. Gnomes have become a frequent accessory in many gardens, although they are more popular in Europe than here in the US. They are thought to bring good luck to the tenders of the garden, keeping away evil spirits that could inhibit the garden’s growth.

But not everyone feels this way. A French group by the name of “FLNJ” (Front de Liberation des Nains de Jardin) or “The Gnome Liberation Front” is particularly notorious, having been responsible for hundreds, if not thousands, of “gnome-nappings” all over the Continent in recent years. After 20 gnomes were stolen from a weekend exhibition in Paris, the Front released a statement that said, in part, “”We demand … that garden gnomes are no longer ridiculed and that they be released into their natural habitat”. It warned that it would strike again unless the show was closed and all the gnomes released. On another occasion, the group claimed responsibility for a “mass suicide” of eleven stolen gnomes that were found dangling by their necks from a bridge overpass in the town of Briey, in eastern France. A letter found nearby said: “When you read these few words we will no longer be part of your selfish world, where we serve merely as pretty decoration”. Clearly, this terrorist organization is far more dastardly than al-Qaeda … well, at least if you’re made of ceramic and less than three feet tall.

So far my friend has not received a photograph of his gnome in Abe’s lap at the Lincoln Memorial, or any ransom demands, but as this event has unfolded we have both learned of a new phenomenon. All I can say is, it’s a pretty freaking strange world.

Fake News Headlines

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

BUSH URGES AMERICANS TO SPY ON EACH OTHER THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Calls Invasion of Privacy ‘The Gift That Keeps On Giving’

In a special pre-holiday address to the American people, President George W. Bush today said that the upcoming holiday season affords all Americans a unique opportunity to spy on their neighbors, and urged his fellow citizens to do so.

“My fellow Americans, over the holidays many of you will be receiving new camcorders as gifts,” President Bush told his national television audience. “Instead of making boring home movies of your children, point the camera at the house next door and see what your neighbors are up to.”

Saying that the people next door “might be evildoers,” Mr. Bush said that by spying on one’s neighbors, “You’re going to find out who’s naughty or nice.”

Coming just days after he defended his own practice of wiretapping phone conversations without a court warrant, Mr. Bush’s exhortation to the American people to snoop on one another over the holidays was the latest indication that he intends to ramp up domestic spying in the new year.

“Invasion of privacy is the gift that keeps on giving,” the president said.

Perhaps in an attempt to preempt criticism of his domestic spying program, Mr. Bush added that he was “more than willing” to let the government spy on him.

“Go ahead, get a list of every library book I’ve taken out in the last five years,” he said. “You won’t find anything.”

WAR COST TOPS ONE ZILLION

Pentagon Renames Iraq Conflict ‘Operation Infinite Expense’

Just hours after the Pentagon estimated the cost of the war in Iraq at half a trillion dollars, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld revised that figure slightly upward, restating the cost of the war as one zillion dollars.

“In turns out that the half trillion figure left out some important budget items, and one zillion is actually a lot closer to the mark,” Secretary Rumsfeld told reporters. “My bad.”

To reflect the new, higher cost of the war, the Pentagon today officially renamed the conflict “Operation Infinite Expense.”

When asked to explain the upward revision, the defense secretary said that the half-trillion figure was based on projections of the war in Iraq lasting five to ten years, while the zillion dollar figure reflects the most up-to-date estimate of the war’s duration, which he characterized as “forever and ever.”

“Based on what we’re seeing on the ground in Iraq, the war will probably last longer than Vietnam but not quite as long as Cher’s Farewell Tour.”

Secretary Rumsfeld defended the new price tag for the war in Iraq, explaining, “When you keep in mind that this war is never going to end, and it will be around for our children and our children’s children, a zillion dollars is a bargain by any yardstick.”

At the White House, President Bush acknowledged that the zillion-dollar price tag was higher than he had originally anticipated, but added, “Freedom isn’t free – in fact, it costs one zillion dollars.”

Source: The Borowitz Report

Vive La France!

Friday, December 2nd, 2005

I just love a happy ending, especially where stray animals are involved, and this one is a corker: Emily the Continental Cat has returned safely. You may remember hearing about this a couple of months ago. The McElhiney family of Appleton, Wisconsin were very distraught when their beloved pet disappeared from their home last September. The story took a bizarre twist when the grey tabby was found, thin and thirsty yet alive, in a cargo container in Nancy, France on October 24th. Apparently she had wandered into a container of cardboard bales at a paper company near her home, and had been shipped across the Atlantic. Fortunately, she was wearing an ID tag, so when she was discovered by sympathetic workers at the Belgian company, Raflatac, they were able to contact her vet in the US who informed the McElhiney’s of Emily’s predicament. (This should be a valuable lesson to all pet owners, BTW: if you let your animal outdoors, be sure they wear a collar and tag.)

Once the press got ahold of the story, all hell broke loose. Offers poured in from hundreds of people who were travelling from France to the USA to bring Emily home. The State Department became involved, and the French government cut through red tape to expedite her return. Continental Airlines, eager to seize on some good publicity, offered to fly the cat home from Paris in sumptuous business class after Emily’s tale spread around the world and she cleared a one-month quarantine.

“This was such a marvelous story, that we wanted to add something to it,” Continental spokesman Philippe Fleury told AP Television News at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport.

So it was with much fanfare that a Continental cargo agent handed the globe-hopping feline over to 9-year-old Nick Herndon, son of the cat’s owners, at a press reception yesterday. Reporters showed up in droves for the event, which was worthy of the most famous celebrity. Emily meowed and pawed at reporters’ microphones as the family answered questions.

On her flight home, Emily passed up a menu of peppered salmon filet and “opted for her French cat food” and some water, said an airline spokesmanApparently all that French food did Emily some good, as her owners noted “she’s bigger and heavier than before”.

This comes as no surprise to me. If you’ve ever been to Paris, you know that if there’s one thing the French do extremely well, it’s eat. There’s a boulangerie, patisserie, chocolatier, or cafe serving mouth-watering, tasty delectables on every corner. I must have gained at least 15 pounds when I was there three years ago, and I’d love to go back again. Seeing how well Emily fared, maybe I should look around for a European-bound cargo container in my neighborhood and stow away inside (I’ll be sure to wear a tag). On second thought, maybe not; with my luck, I’d probably end up somewhere in Albania, happy to have un plat de Friskies®.

More proof the end is near: Anti-Christ will be in auto sales

Sunday, October 23rd, 2005

Beelzebub?

Hot on the heels of my earlier post in which Pat Robertson opined that the spate of recent natural disasters was an omen of the end times, comes that other respected global theorist and religious scholar … Alice Cooper. Um, yeah, him. Last week the aging shock-rocker stated on contactmusic.com that he believes the apocalypse is imminent.

“Everybody is aware of the end of time – the floods, the tsunami, the hurricanes. It’s Revelations. It’s all supposed to happen,” Cooper said. “I know where it’s going because, according to the Bible, it’s like this for a while and then we’ll see the Antichrist, who’s going to be the smoothest car salesman you’ve ever seen in your life.”

“He’s going to be like Gandhi. He’s going to be the guy you never expected, because he’s saving everybody. That’s the guy you’ve got to worry about.”

The “School’s Out” icon claims that current world conditions match the forecast presented in the Bible’s prophetic Book of Revelation. And Cooper’s qualifications for this insight are…. er, that his father was a preacher. I’m not making this up.

OK, I don’t know about you but I’m convinced. If someone tries to lowball me a loaded cherry Coupe DeVille, I’m heading for the hills. Talk about your Buyer’s Remorse.

Beware! Vehicle Of Doom!

Is your printer ratting on you?

Friday, October 21st, 2005

It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it isn’t. The pages coming out of your color printer may contain hidden information that could be used to track you down if you ever cross the U.S. government. Last year, a computer magazine article pointed out that printouts from many color laser printers contained yellow dots scattered across the page, viewable only with a special kind of light. The article quoted a senior researcher at Xerox Corp. as saying the dots contain a digital “ID tag” for use by law-enforcement authorities to track down criminals.

The content of the coded information was supposed to be a secret, available only to agencies looking for counterfeiters who use color printers. But now, the secret is out.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco consumer privacy group, recently revealed that it had cracked the code from a widely used line of Xerox printers. The code revealed the serial number of the printer as well as the date and time a document was printed. With the Xerox printers, the information appears as a pattern of yellow dots, each only a millimeter wide and visible only with a magnifying glass and a blue light.

The EFF said it has identified similar coding on pages printed from nearly every major printer manufacturer. The U.S. Secret Service acknowledged yesterday that the markings, which are not visible to the human eye, are there, but it played down the use for invading privacy. “It’s strictly a countermeasure to prevent illegal activity specific to counterfeiting,” said an agency spokesman.

Xerox’s Bill McKee also confirmed the existence of the hidden codes, but he said the company was simply assisting government agencies, competing manufacturers and a “consortium of banks”. McKee declined to provide further details.

Source: Mike Musgrove, The Washington Post. Read full article here.

A Place Right Out of History

Thursday, October 20th, 2005

As I am writing this, Hurricane Wilma is churning towards Florida, apparently drawing a bead on my former home town of Sarasota. I still have a number of friends there, and I certainly hope that they are spared the ravages that Katrina and Rita heaped upon other parts of the gulf coast. The most recent name of course conjures up the image of Wilma Flintstone, and I think it would be interesting to have an entire hurricane season consisting of only names taken from cartoon characters. Let’s see: we could have hurricane Dilbert, Elmer, Fred, Homer, Lisa, Maggie, Popeye, Yogi, etc. The biggest problem would be the letter “B”; it would be hard to choose from Betty, Barney, Boo-Boo, Bugs, Bart, or a host of others. I can see the headline now: “Hurricane Butthead Threatens Florida Keys”. It might be hard to take that one seriously.

But we should not be distracted by Wilma’s cutesy namesake. This cyclone has the unenviable distinction of being the strongest Atlantic-basin storm in recorded history, adding to an already devastating hurricane season. A lot of people can’t wait until it officially ends on November 30, and there’s a palpable buzz in casual conversation that this year has been something different. Has our mucking with the environment reaped Mother Nature’s retribution?

Some people think that all the recent global disasters are a sign from God that the end times are near. CNN’s Wolf Blitzer actually asked this question of American Ayatollah Pat Robertson the other night, and Robertson said:

“Wolf, I might say you’re very perceptive to pick up the key in this. If you read back in the Bible, the letter of the apostle Paul to the church of Thessalonia, he said that in the latter days before the end of the age that the Earth would be caught up in what he called the birth pangs of a new order. And for anybody who knows what it’s like to have a wife going into labor, you know how these labor pains begin to hit. I don’t have any special word that says this is that, but it could be suspiciously like that. These things are starting to hit with amazing regularity.”

Robertson rambled on.

“What was called the blessed hope of the Bible is that one day Jesus Christ would come back again, start a whole new era, that this world order that we know it would change into something that would be wonderful that we’d call the millennium. And before that good time comes there will be some difficult days, and there will be likened to what a woman goes through in labor just before she brings forth a child.”

Blitzer nodded, as one might when confronted with a raving lunatic, and asked “So you think we’re at that moment right now, perhaps?”

“It’s possible, Wolf,” Robertson replied. “I don’t have any special revelation to say it is, but the Bible does indicate such a time will happen in the end of time. And could this be it? It might be.”

Wow. There you have it. I guess we better start making preparations.