Wednesday, July 03, 2002

Ok, I'm off to Tahoe for the weekend, so I'll leave you with a piece of 4th of July history. In the first days of July, 1826, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were gravely ill. Jefferson had been unconscious since the 2nd, and Adams could barely speak. They both held on just long enough to see the 50th anniversary of the country they had held create. Purportedly some of Adams' last words were "Thomas Jefferson survives." They both passed in the afternoon, July 4th, 1826.

Happy Independence Day.
From ESPN:
The Padres blew a 5-0 first-inning lead Thursday in San Francisco, then blew another 5-0 first-inning lead the next day in Kansas City. That made them the first team to score five runs in the first in back-to-back games and still lose both games, according to Elias, since the 1893 Chicago Colts did it on the same dates.
What we have to celebrate this 4th.

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

I wouldn't exactly call this news:
A blunt new report by Arab intellectuals commissioned by the United Nations warns that Arab societies are being crippled by a lack of political freedom, the repression of women and an isolation from the world of ideas that stifles creativity.

It is refreshing to see the problems in the Arab world being viewed from an internal perspective, rather than attempting place the blame on U.S. imperialism, the Jews and the rest of the usual suspects. Here's a disturbing statistic - in the last 1,000 years Arabs have translated as many books as Spain does in 1 year.
One point supporters of the International Criminal Court constantly make is this one, as the NYT does today:
The administration invokes the possibility that an American on international police or peacekeeping duty in Bosnia could be maliciously accused and hauled off for prosecution in The Hague. That ignores the fact that the international court could become involved only if Washington failed to prosecute international crimes.

Of course, Washington is not going to maliciously prosecute it's own soldiers, so right there this argument is invalidated. The administration is absolutely right to vociferously oppose the ICC, which is ostensibly set up to prosecute the next Hitler or Pol Pot. Some other names that have been bandied about? Henry Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, Ariel Sharon... strangely no Yasser Arafat, Fidel Castro...
Norm's gotta go.
Retired New York City police officers are furious that Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta rejected a proposal to use 1,000 retired officers to provide airport security in New York in favor of helping hundreds of non-U.S. citizen security screeners keep their jobs in San Francisco.

Last month, Mineta announced that San Francisco Airport had won a pilot program cheered by many in the Bay Area because it could potentially save jobs. But what wasn't revealed is that the San Francisco proposal was competing with a New York plan that lawmakers and officers there say better reflects the program and provides a stronger blueprint for airport security.

``It's politics, and it's the worst kind,'' said Charles Slepian, a retired New York City officer who drafted the pilot program proposal for John F. Kennedy Airport. ``Picking San Francisco instead of New York could put passengers at risk, and I put the blame for that at the doorstep of Secretary Mineta.

``He's charged with protecting passengers, and this pilot program was supposed to find new and better ways to do that. It wasn't designed to be a `jobs' program.''

On the plus side, the screeners will no longer be able to legally defecate on the sidewalk. (I know, SFO is not in SF)
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to potty train the public Monday with a ban on answering nature's call in public, in response to growing complaints about unpleasant sights and smells on city sidewalks.

The board's unanimous vote came as a surprise after months of rancor. Even the most liberal supervisors went along with the ban on public urination and defecation, despite lobbying by homeless advocates and calls for more public toilets.

Only in SF is this surprising.

Monday, July 01, 2002

Last celebrity posting today, I promise...
AMID ALLEGATIONS of witchcraft, Hollywood superstar Bill Cosby has evicted a longtime friend, the ex-wife of basketball legend Guy Rodgers, from Cosby's Elkins Park estate, which she had overseen for 19 years.

Gladys Rodgers said Cosby and his spiritual adviser accused her of using blood, sparkles and other items in bizarre witch rituals to gain control over the Philly-bred comedian. Rodgers says she is a Methodist.

Blood and sparkles? Read the whole article. It's hilarious.
Jonah Goldberg on provisional states in The Corner...
President Bush has been getting a hard time for dangling the possibility of a "provisional state" in front of the Palestinians. Nabil Shaath, a Palestinian official, did the talk show rounds expressing his contempt for the idea. He told CBS:

My only problem is we do it provisional because we've heard about a provisional government, a provisional Cabinet but not a provisional state. It's either a state or not a state. You cannot be provisionally pregnant.

And, CNN's John King matter-of-factly asserted, "Well, international law recognizes no such thing as a provisional state."

But is this really true? There are plenty of nations and peoples with what we could legitimately call "provisional states" even if we don't use that term. Scotland, one could argue, became a provisional state under the Scotland Act a few years ago. It gained sovereignty over all domestic affairs while London retained total control over defense and foreign policy and quite a bit of control over taxation. Prior to the Scotland Act, however, the Scots spent 300 years without a state of their own, provisional or otherwise. And yet, it's worth noting, there were no Scottish suicide bombers murdering English school children. (It's also worth noting that the Scottish independence movement is dying because the Scots are smart).

Indeed, when you think about it, there are lots of semi-autonomous, largely self-governing nations with what look remarkably like provisional states. Puerto Ricans have a provisional state in the sense that their local government would run foreign policy too if the Puerto Ricans ever decided to vote for independence. The Kurds in Northern Iraq also have what could easily be mistaken for a provisional state.

The Palestinians claim there's no such thing because they want to treat any state they get, provisional or otherwise, as the real deal -- and will undoubtedly do so. But that doesn't mean they're right.
Ok, for some reason I'm on a celebrity kick right now. I don't really care what George Michael has to say about the state of the world right now, but this fawning article is full of great Whisdom!
Unfortunately, I [the American people} think they have been shown the issues in very simplistic terms."We have to understand that Saddam is a hero to his people.

"He switched to Islam after the invasion of Kuwait to get Arab support, even though he rules through terror."

So which is it - a hero to his people or ruling through terror?
On his patriotism...
"One of the most patriotic you will ever meet. "I live here, the only time I went out of the country and didn't pay tax was when I was on a 10-month tour, so it was a six-week absence for tax reasons. Every other year of my life I've paid my full tax.

"I've travelled the world and I absolutely know that England is the place that I want to be. "I just believe that as a country we're not being allowed to discuss the fact that Britain's the second most dangerous place on earth right now."

Good for you George, you paid your taxes, the definition of patriotism. And what is "second most dangerous place on earth" supposed to mean? Behind what? Israel? North Korea? Colombia?
Much as George "absolutely detests" the idea of the suicide bombers, he believes everybody has the right to their own elections.

Interesting. A non sequitor, but it's nice to know George believes in democracy. Not something many of the people George thinks we should be kowtowing to believe in, unfortunately.

Lots more great quotes in the article. Here's what the writer thinks of George's place in music history...

Because this song could either make or break the next phase in the extraordinary life and times of Britain's most successful contemporary songwriter.

Britain's most successful contemporary songwriter is George Michael? Not Paul McCartney? Mick Jagger? Keith Richards? Andrew Ridgely? Ok, maybe not Andrew Ridgely, but remember, there was more to Wham! than just George Michael.
Tom Cruise is leaving America...
NEW YORK — He's an all-American movie star, but Tom Cruise said his children will be making All the Right Moves — by moving out of America.

"I think the U.S. is terrifying and it saddens me," he told the British paper the Daily Express. "You only have to look at the state of affairs in America."

At the Minority Report premiere Cruise, who is known for his role in the Mission Impossible flicks as a slick superagent for Truth, Justice and the American way, said his adopted children Isabella, 9, and Connor, 7, will grow up outside the United States. They will probably be raised in Australia, his ex-wife Nicole Kidman's homeland.

Cruise, whose character became similarly disillusioned with America in Born on the Fourth of July, said raising children in the U.S. is a risky business. He said he could no longer keep his 'eyes wide shut' to America's terrorism threat, crime, faltering financial status and corporate corruption.

"I do worry about my children. As a parent you are always concerned," he told the paper. "I just want them to be in a place where they are going to be strong enough to make the right choices. Unfortunately, we're in a position where people are so irresponsible that human life holds such little value to them."

Aside from his incoherent reasoning, note 1)the cute Tom Cruise movie references, 2)the comparison of multi-millionaire, adored-by-millions, four-fully-functioning-limbs Cruise to the rightly-disillusioned paraplegic Vietnam vet of Born on the Fourth of July. Nice.
I promise this is the only time I will write about Tom Cruise.
OKAYAMA, Japan, July 1 (UPI) -- Genetic anomalies tied with marijuana-activated brain chemicals appear linked to schizophrenia, Japanese researchers report.

"This result provides genetic evidence that marijuana use can result in schizophrenia or a significantly increased risk of schizophrenia," lead researcher Hiroshi Ujike, a clinical psychiatrist at Okayama University, told United Press International.

I went and saw Gillian Welch and David Rawlings at the Fillmore on Saturday. What an amazing voice she has (actually he does too). And great songwriting. If you have any interest in acoustic music, check her out. Here are some dates.
We fight over strange things here in San Francisco.
Today, members of San Francisco's Board of Supervisors will vote on whether to outlaw public urination and defecation or delay the ban until the city Health Commission decides that there are a sufficient number of public rest rooms.

But if there aren't enough -- and no one has defined "enough" yet -- who will want a public rest room installed on their block?

I had no idea it was legal to do that. I just find that really hard to believe.
Supervisor Tony Hall, who represents the city's mostly middle-class west side, first introduced a proposal to outlaw public urination and defecation in January. As an infraction, violators could be fined $50 to $500.

Then last month Supervisor Chris Daly, who represents the city's poorest neighborhoods including the Tenderloin, amended Hall's ban so it couldn't become law without the Health Commission's rest room count and blessing.

"To have on the books a police code specifically prohibiting an act we know everyone has to do doesn't make a lot of sense," Daly said.

To have people crapping on the sidewalk doesn't make a lot of sense, either. This guy sums it up best...
Steven Currier of the Outer Mission Residents Association said he has also advocated for a toilet in his area for years but can't seem to win.

"I'm walking down the street with my dogs the other day and a guy just pulls down his pants and does it right there," Currier said. "I don't get this.

I would get fined if I didn't pick up after my dog."

Saving the world from George W. Bush and square dancing.
Barely a day goes by that mud doesn't coat the halls of Congress — even if one side has to dig really deep to muddy the other.

If you hadn't read in this newspaper, Rep. Diane E. Watson, California Democrat, proclaimed President Bush has a low IQ — "of 88."

"That tells you something," she said, insisting that a "shadow government" consisting of Mr. Bush's "father and the guy who calls himself the vice president" was actually making the decisions in this country.

"The '88' certainly isn't making the decisions," she said.

The GOP's response?

"She is the one with the low IQ," say Bush backers, presenting as proof a May 31, 1984, news clipping about the California State Senate rejecting square dancing as the state's official dance because it left out other aspects of the Western state's culture. Among the opponents was Miss Watson, then a state senator from Los Angeles.

Sen. John Doolittle, a Citrus Heights Republican, argued that square dancing was part of California's social history since Spaniards ruled the territory. Miss Watson countered that square dancing originated in "northern Europe" and therefore the dance was "culturally biased" against blacks in the state.

The truth is that square dancing originated in Spain in the Middle Ages and later spread to English village celebrations where May queens and their subjects danced around maypoles that included an elaborate weaving of long ribbons.