Saturday, January 19, 2002

New Singing Group Makes Big Splash





Happy Fun Pundit Interviews The Band


A new 'boy-band' has appeared overnight, sweeping the charts with an offbeat sound and their wacky personalities. Tonight, Happy Fun Pundit interviews the boys:

HFP: Hey guys. How's it going?

Jigger: Yo yo yo, before we start I'd like to give a big shout-out to my homeys at Guantanamo, Allah be praised.

HFP: So, where do you guys come from, and what made you start a band?

Jigger: Well, we come from...France. We are trying to lay low for a while, and someone told us that if we formed a boy band we'd be popular for a bit and then no one would hear from us again. Death to the Infidels.

HFP: Okay, 'death'. Got it. Now, Broody... I understand you recently learned to play the bass. How's that coming along?

Broody: The rivers will run red with the blood of our enemies! We will eat your intestines and destroy your society! Oh, and one of the first 1000 infidels to buy our album will win a 'dream date' with me.

HFP: That's great. I'm sure the girls are lining up now.

Broody: Virgins only.

HFP: Yeah, right. Good luck. Now, Jon Lovitz, I'm surprised to see you in the band. What are you doing here?

Jon: Hey, work is work.

HFP: True enough. I guess you aren't exactly setting 'em on fire these days, eh?

Jon: No, and that's in my contract. I won't set anything on fire.

HFP: Now, dopey... How did you get that name?

Dopey: Well, remember when those guys went back to the rental agency to get their money back after the first WTC attack? That was my idea.

HFP: Okay. Point made. So then you...

Dopey: And the shoe lighting thing? My plan.

HFP: We get the point.

Broody: The wrath of Allah will descend upon the infidels and reduce their cities to rubble.

HFP: That's great. Hey, where's "The Shy One" tonight? Isn't he your drummer?

Jigger: We didn't want to talk about that. He accidentally martyred himself while trying to make a drumstick out of plastic explosive. We lose a lot of drummers that way.

HFP: Well, I'm sure you can find more drummers. Thanks, Boys. We'll let you get back to the cave now.

THE BOYS: DIE, INFIDEL SCUM!

HFP: Death to you, too.
Flying the Stupid Skies

According to Reuters, Shoebomber Richard Reid sent an quick email Martyrgram to associates before boarding the American Airlines flight which he tried to destroy with, well, shoebombs. In the email, Reid described himself as a "martyr of the Islamic cause." He also asked the recipients not to publicize "it" (presumably the email, though it's unclear from the report) unless the plot was executed successfully:

WARNING: This email contains statements of a speculative nature. All acts of terrorism contain an element of risk, even if Allah is on our side, which he most certainly is. While certain sacred writings claim that acts of martyrdom may result in being sent to paradise and entertained for eternity by 72 virgins, your martrydom may vary. Also, virgins may not be as much fun as you might think. This email is copyright 2001 by Richard Salton Reid; please do not distribute without permission unless he has gone on to Paradise and left the souls of a jillion infidels in Hell.

Well, it's a good thing that he put the disclaimer on there, isn't it? Otherwise, his pals might be spreading embarassing skipping-rope rhymes about him:

"Shoebomber! Shoebomber!
What's your game?
Took a beating in Allah's name!
Tried to detonate his shoe
Interfered with an air crew!
Spreading terror was too hard,
Now he's a bitch in the exercise yard!
Yeah! Yeah! SHOEBOMBER! YEAH!"


In a related story, superhero Reed Richards, the leader of the Fantastic Four, was detained briefly after attempting to board a flight at New York's JFK airport. He was allowed to proceed after demonstrating that, though he has the consistency of plastic, he is in fact not flammable.

Friday, January 18, 2002

Cartel? Gracious no, it's just that oil companies think the same way.

Is there a non-conspiratorial explanation for the uniformity of gasoline prices in Canada? For the benefit of our US readers, here's the way it works up north: gasoline prices tend to be pretty uniform in any given metropolitan area... if gas is 43.9 cents a litre at the pumps in west Edmonton, chances are that it's 43.9, give or take a penny, at just about any gas station in the city (which, with a population of 750,000, has lots and lots of gas stations, both oil company affiliates and independents). It's quite common to go to bed when the gas price is 43.9, and wake up the next morning that it's now 44.9 ... everywhere in town. Simultaneously. I can only imagine that Herky, The Angry Fossil Fuel Elf, runs from station to station all night and alerts the operators to price changes. Of course, there are occasional price wars and variations, but by and large, everybody moves in lockstep. I have heard vague stories about people mounting legal challenges to this sort of obvious cartel behaviour, but only in an urban-legend kinda way.

Not so here in the US. Here in my 'hood on the east shore of the San Francisco Bay, my preferred gas station is selling Regular Unleaded for 112.9 cents a gallon. Across the street is a 76 station charging 125.9. Cross the Bay into San Francisco and you can count on paying 130 at a minimum, and can easily find places selling it for 160.

And it gets crazier. This week, I took a road trip down to the San Diego area... check out the gas prices along the way:

Carlsbad: 130
Santa Fe Springs: 115
Southern edge of LA: 112
Southern edge of Kern County: 109
Willows: 100.9
Southern edge of Merced Country: 150
Gustine: 178
Pleasanton: 125

That's a 78% variation in price over a distance of 450 miles... mind you, I think the guys in Gustine saw me coming. It's interesting to note that the lowest price, at a travel plaza in Willows, was a long way from any major metropolitan area... it's basically a bunch of gas stations, motels, and fast food restaurants in the middle of nowhere.

Coming Soon To Happy Fun Pundit: The Best And Worst Gas Station Washrooms Along I5!
Politically Incorrect Joke of the Day:
Bill Maher: It came out today that Enron executives last year approached the company that owns "Penthouse" magazine to cut a deal to provide porn videos on the Internet.

Of course, Enron porn is a little different.
It shows a hot chick getting screwed out of her retirement.

Thursday, January 17, 2002

ACLU Sues 9/11 VICTIMS



Cites "atmosphere of distrust" created by deceased


In the most dramatic of its post 9/11 cases, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit against the more than 2,800 victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks on America, claiming that, by dying, the victims have created an "atmosphere of distrust" in America, as well as "cutting wide swaths of discomfort" for such non-dead groups as Muslim air travellers, baggage screeners, and even the personnel of such American intelligence agencies as the CIA and FBI.

The legal action was announced at a press conference today. ACLU Legal Coordinator Harvey Risible read the following prepared statement:

"Since September 11, the ACLU has been on the barricades, making sure that every strip-searched person of non-white color, Taliban collaborator, and semi-skilled airport worker has a top-notch legal team looking out for their interests. At the same time, we have understaken to find the root causes of the ominous assault on civil liberties that has taken place in our country since that date. It has now become blindingly obvious that the culprits are the so-called victims of the terror attack, who, by dying, set in motion the forces of not-niceness in America."

"In the last four months, we have received dozen of fearful letters from Muslims, outspoken lefty academics, anti-Semites, Marin county spiritual seekers, and other groups who have felt the post-9/11 backlash. They all say essentially the same thing: I feel uncomfortable, and I want to sue somebody."

Acting on behalf of the discomfited, the ACLU is seeking unspecified monetary damages, a signed apology, and, in an unusual move, post-mortem sensitivity training. "We want to send a clear message to those in the afterlife: death does not excuse you from being aware of the feelings of others."

When asked about the principles ACLU used in deciding to prosecute the case, Risible just smiled and said, "We don't like to use the p-word here."
Jesse Jackson, King of Oratory

Jesse Jackson is back in the news. This time, he wants to somehow force Wall Street to make sure that 10% of all asset management fees for corporate pensions go to 'minority' asset-management firms.

Last Night, Jeff Greenfield did a pretty good job of grilling Jesse on the details, on Greenfield At Large. Let's let Jesse speak for himself:

Jesse Jackson on Mathematics:
"Last year, the firms on Wall Street got $8.5 billion in management asset fees. And so 10 percent would be, you know, $50 million."

Jesse Jackson on Clarity in Speaking:
"Well, those who are handling their resources on welfare, relatively...are a handful of people. The fact is if you expand it to include more women, more Hispanics and more blacks, not only do they -- are they capable of managing the money and deserve the freeze, they also can -- and broaden the base of investment. We have to somehow green line, red line America."

Wait, Jesse Makes it Clearer:
"Well, these are people. See, with African-Americans and Hispanics go to Harvard and Yale and Princeton, Columbia and Morehouse, Howard, and they have these skills that cannot get accessed because they're not in the club, because of incest. Why -- if African-Americans and Hispanics are between 20 and 40 percent of a work force and they pay pension funds, then they're that much of a consumer market.

Why can't they be a factor in managing money? If Carl McCarl can be the sole signature in the largest fund in America, can we not handle money?"

Jesse Explains the Cornel West Situation with Great Clarity:
[answering Greenfield's question on whether criticism of West was racially motivated]
"Well, it may not have been that in this case, because that's not what Cornel, Dr. West. It was personal, he felt violated as an academician of the mission. So it raises the freedom of association in this academic freedom.

That's what brought other professors into the process. And then, the question about not being as vigorous enough on the Affirmative Action question, is what got Dr. Gates and others involved. Because clearly Affirmative Action, opening doors in that way, is on the tack and they didn't want any equivocation."


I hope that this has cleared up any questions you may have had on these subjects.
Darth Vader, Call Your Office

Actor James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader (and also the "This is CNN" guy), was given a plaque by the town of Waterhill, Florida as a gift for addressing its annual Martin Luther King celebration.

Unfortunately, the incription was engraved by someone who was a few fanatics short of a jihad, so to speak, because the plaque reads "To James Earl Ray". James Earl Ray was, of course, the man who pleaded guilty for murdering Martin Luther King.

No word yet on whether Mr. Jones did that finger-twisty thing and choked the engraver to death.
Man Bites Dog
by Katie The Dog

I'm getting worried. First, "Ethicist" Peter Singer suggests that humans should do it 'doggy-style' with actual doggies, and now William Saletan over at Slate wants to eat us.

First, the sex thing. Look, it's not that we don't love our humans. Just not in 'that way'. Can't we just be friends? I know you guys think we're cuddly and adorable, but trust me - we'd rather run around with that 'dangerous' German Shepherd next door and then come home later and let you scratch us on the head and tell us it's okay when he leaves us for the bitch down the street. Humans are nice, so we'd rather just keep you as friends so you can comfort us when all our doggy relationships go to hell.

I mean, let's face it - you just aren't dog material. You people are hairless, you sweat, and you weigh a gazillion freakin' pounds. So enough with the sex thing, okay?

Now, as for eating us. This just creeps me out. First you want to 'do it' with us, then you want to have us for a snack? What is this, some kind of freakish Hannibal Lector thing? Come near me with a fork, and you're pulling back a bloody stump, bucko.

But now that I thnk about it... You know that annoying Taco Bell dog that looks like a rat on steroids? Fine eating, I'm told. Bon Appetit.

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Politically Incorrect Joke of the Day
Bill Maher: Well, Attorney General John Ashcroft announced today that the American Taliban John Walker has been charged with conspiracy to kill U.S. nationals in Afghanistan. They're asking for life imprisonment for him.

Which is ironic, because now Walker gets to be the virgin for 72 other guys.
Ye Canna Change the Laws of Physics!

The Reuters "we don't like words that make you feel bad and funny, like terrorist" news service has scooped us again: This time, they have repeated almost without question the claim that a company called "ZeoSync" has developed a "perfect compression" algorithm. Read the Reuters article here, and the company's Press Release here.

The press release itself is a work of art. Allow me to quote:
ZeoSync intentionally randomizes naturally occurring patterns to form entropy-like random sequences through its patent pending technology known as Zero Space Tuner™. Once randomized, ZeoSync's BinaryAccelerator™ encodes these singular-bit-variance strings within complex combinatorial series to result in massively reduced BitPerfect™ equivalents. The combined TunerAccelerator™ is expected to be commercially available during 2003.


Well, that makes sense. My Bullshit-Detector™ is causing my communi-digits™ to impact my compression-input device™, creating lettergrams™ that are transmitted via visual-optical interface™ to you, the gentle reader. Oh, and "Patent pending" just means that someone could afford the cost of an envelope and a stamp.

I also love the way they use buzzwords like "base two binary carriers" instead of "bit". This helps them fool the technologically illiterate, such as the technology editors at Reuters.

What the article doesn't tell you is that "perfect compression" is the perpetual motion machine of the computing world. It violates everything we know about mathematics and information theory.

For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, let me put on my propeller-hat and explain: Perfect compression says that any random combination of n bits of information can be represented completely by another set of n-1 bits, such that all original information can be extracted from the smaller set. So if I have 50 bits, I can represent all 50 in 49 bits. Then of course, I can take those 49 bits and represent them with 48... By recursively applying the algorithm, you can reduce all information in the universe to a single bit (excuse me - "base two binary carrier"). Bummer for Seagate and Quantum.

Of course, this claim would make even the editors at Reuters go "huh?", so these companies invariably claim that their special method can only be applied 100 times or so, thus making it truly revolutionary without sounding immediately stupid.

In contrast, real compression methods work by assuming that the information contains a lot of patterns and redundancy (i.e. a GIF of an image, or the "Police Academy" movies), or that parts can be discarded while still getting across essential information (i.e. a JPEG, a blank tape replacing an Al Sharpton speech, or the sentence "retrs nws srvic scks").

By the way, this would be a good time to announce that I have written what many say is the greatest book in history. It is sure to win the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes. And I'm offering it to Happy Fun Pundit readers for free!

Here it is: "."

It's in compressed form right now but when Zeosync "overcomes the existing temporal restraints of its technology" and gets you the decompressor, you'll see that it's just dynamite™.
Chretien's Mechanical Shuffle

Alert Reader Trish writes:

After the "unexpected" retirement of Brian Tobin, the Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Chretien, has imposed the most extensive cabinet shuffle on his cronies since coming to power in 1993.

Well, we know one guy at least who was expecting Brian Tobin's departure, eagerly even, with hands rubbing together and little wet spots at the corners of his mouth. Chretien (cray-tee-en, for you non-Francophones, stop trying to sneak "cretin" in there), looking tanned and fit after three gruelling weeks in Florida pondering his obscene good fortune, welcomed the changes.

As well he should. The scene in Ottawa, between Allan Rock's incessant badgering of tobacco companies and Sheila Copps' dancing herself all the way from deputy PM to very quiet Heritage Minister, has made even Canadians realize that their federal government is embarrassing them. Chretien only has so much time before voters begin to notice that their first world nation is being led by a third world government.

In the meantime, a little distraction will keep him in cigars and transfer payments a while longer. He's thrown the West a bone by replacing Allan Rock with Anne McLellan as Health Minister, hoping that federal/provincial health care warfare (the feds make the rules, and the provinces pay the bills) can be settled by having a real live western Member of Parliament try things on for size.

There's even a mild frown at corruption: Public Works Minister Alfonso Gagliano, long associated with the finest in pork-barrelling, has been given the gulag in the form of a Denmark ambassador post. There he will find it cold, dark, and absent new episodes of The Sopranos. John Manley, who was possibly the only Canadian in federal public office to behave appropriately in the wake of the 9/11 tragedies, has been kissed on both cheeks by Jean Chretien: presto-changeo! with no voter input whatsoever, he is seated at the left hand of the Father as Deputy PM.

This marks an ousting for PM wannabe Herb Gray, who lost out to Manley hands-down in a "man from Glad lookalike" contest put on by the Liberals to choose the next successor to the throne.

All in all, business as usual. Chretien himself was said to have taken a walk in the snow to see the contrast of the white against his tan, and decided that he will remain in power for as long as it keeps being fun. Since there is no party capable of opposing them since Stockwell Day's spectacular crash and burn, why not? It's not like the job is cutting into his free time.

Three Cheers for Peggy

I just finished reading Peggy Noonan's latest column, and it struck me once again just what a wonderful writer she is.

Peggy Noonan seems to have fallen out of the top tier of political columnists, and that' s a shame. It's probably because she's not mean enough. Peggy Noonan has a sunny, upbeat, comforting view of the world. And god, can she write. She's the most lyrical political writer on the scene today. Like George Will, she savors words. The english language is the easel she uses to paint beautiful thoughts and ideas. And while George Will turns his pen towards issues external, Peggy has the ability to reach inside and give us just a little tap where we live.

Do yourself a favor: Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and spend some time browsing through the Peggy Noonan Archive.

Tuesday, January 15, 2002

Hell Freezes Over, Part I

I know you're going to find this hard to believe, but last night on Crossfire Bill Press actually came up with a good joke. No, really. Here it is:

Press: "In England, Prince Harry was arrested for smoking pot. I guess it gives new meaning to the term, "Your Royal Highness."

Way to go, Bill. There's hope for you yet.
Lifestyles of the Rich and Spoiled

Billionaire Kirk Kerkorian's wife is divorcing him. Some say they had 'grown apart' - she's 36, and he's a brain in a vat. But what's really interesting is how much it apparently costs to raise a child in California these days, because this is what Mrs. Kerkorian is seeking for monthly child support costs:
  • $144,000 monthly for travel [Lotta ponies, I guess...]
  • $14,000 for parties and play dates [You'd think for 14 grand she could get the kid a real date.]
  • $7,000 for charity [My guess? The starving lawyer society.]
  • $102,000 for food [Okay, that one's understandable.]
  • $1,400 for laundry and cleaning [Sure, she stuffed 102 grand worth of food into the kid.]
  • $1,000 for toys, videos and books [An 'avid reader' card would help here - good budget management!]
  • $436 for the care of Kira's pet bunny [Hell, I'll 'take care' of it for 20 bucks and a Jello Shot.]

Upon hearing that last amount, Comedian Bill Maher was heard to say, "Hell, if my bunnies only cost $436 per month I'd never leave 'The Grotto'".

Ted Rall 'Attacks' Canada

At least, I think he did. I'm not sure. His latest comic is here: Ted Rall Tries To Be Funny.

Someone help me out here. As I understand it, the joke is that someone, ah, trashed a bathroom. This caused Canadians to be scared to go to the bathroom. They passed a law. Then they weren't afraid any more, and bought flags. Oh, my aching sides.

Here's the thing, Ted: You aren't funny. Not even mildly 'ha-ha' funny. And for a cartoonist, that's harsh criticism. And if it's political satire you're shooting for, you missed that one too.

Hey, I can take a joke with the best of them. Al Franken attacks conservatives, but he's funny. Michael Moore is a space alien, but he used to be funny. The ability to laugh at yourself is an important part of having a sense of humor, so fire away! We can take it.

But did you ever notice that many of the truly funny people in America today are conservatives and libertarians? Drew Carey, P.J O'Rourke, Dave Barry, Tim Allen, Larry Miller, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Norm MacDonald, Dennis Miller... Maybe it's that you liberals are providing a target-rich environment, but maybe it's also that you're all taking yourselves a bit too seriously these days.

The best humor comes from the outside of the establishment. That's why most of the funny people in America in the 60's and 70's were liberals, and why there are so many funny Canadians. It's easier to lob shells from the outside. But now that you're part of the establishment, you've forgotten how to laugh. George Carlin went from being hilarious to being a tedious old man who rants about how stupid we all are. Michael Moore went from being a funny-but-misguided muckraker to being a whiny crybaby. Dan Aykroyd went from being a Blues Brother to host of "The Weakest Tentacle" on Rothnar IV. The last funny thing that Candice Bergen said was that she thought she still had a career.

Time for you to find your comedy roots, Ted. Break out the tie-dye, drink some bong water, and get back to work. Sheesh.

Monday, January 14, 2002

CHAOS AT AIRPORTS FOLLOWING PRETZEL SCARE


Happy Fun Exclusive!


Thousands of air travellers were delayed today by new airport security measures, instituted after US President George W. Bush choked on a pretzel this weekend. "After this terrifying episode, we have adopted a zero tolerance policy towards salty snacks", said FAA spokesperson Dan Steely. Over three thousand bags of Cheetos were abandoned at Chicago's busy O'Hare airport by noon. Shocking evidence of a widespread conspiracy emerged after hundreds of airplane provisioners were arrested trying to stow what are called "huge, massive" quantities of pretzels and peanuts on aircraft all around the world. Costco stores nationwide have been placed under martial law while emergency legislation designating them as "munitions stores" is rushed through both houses of the US Congress. The measure has stalled over disagreements about federalizing the guys who make the highlighter marks on your receipt when you leave the store, but the administration hopes that a bipartisan compromise will be reached soon.

Stocks of snack-makers plummeted following the news, as investors abandoned General Mills, Frito-Lay, and Hostess. The Dow-Jones Crunchy Fun Index had plummeted nearly 40% by the close of trading on Monday.

Spokesmen for the White House were quick to dismiss early reports that the pretzel-choking incident was linked to the war on terrorism. According to Homeland Security Czar Tom Ridge, "the worst case scenario is that domestic terrorist groups have developed a president-choking pretzel. We strongly believe that the bin Laden organization lack the recipes, ovens, or expertise to do something like this."

The CBS news building was evacuated briefly after the discovery of package addressed to anchorman Dan Rather that was initially thought to contain salty snacks. Eventually, it was determined that the box contained peanut butter cookies, though not before Rather had demonstrated what's being called "an uncanny ability to induce vomiting".

Important Note: This report is JUST A JOKE. Don't sell your stocks.
Bill Maher Reassures the Children

Oh, that old softie Bill Maher is at it again. On Friday's Politically Incorrect he offers these words of encouragement for the kids:

Now, kids, you may have seen something on television this week that made you feel frightened and confused, and I don't just mean the Michael Jackson special.

I'm talking about the hockey dad trial, the one where the big, sad man who looks like Shrek had to hit the other little man who wouldn't listen. Now, kids, what you have to understand is that sometimes mommies and daddies lose their tempers and beat other mommies and daddies to death.

You know how, kids, when you're in the middle of a video game and dinner's ready, you don't wanna stop? Well, sometimes that's how daddy feels when he's in the middle of pummeling an authority figure.


There's more, so just follow the link to the transcript if you want to read it.

This show continues to reach new lows in suckage, but once in a while ole' Bill comes up with something that makes you decide to tolerate watching for at least a few shows more. He's been hooking me like that for several years now.

Sunday, January 13, 2002

An Andy Rooney Interlude:

This isn't exactly a current event, but while helping Katie do research about Clinton's dog Buddy (translation: I did research - she ate a milk bone), I discovered the Presidential Pet Museum, and let me tell you, presidents have had some strange pets. Among the highlights:
  • Woodrow Wilson had Old Ike, the tobacco-chewing ram. No, really. That's what he was called. Just what you want in a household pet- a large animal with horns that drools tobacco juice.

  • Theodore Roosevelt had a whole collection of snakes, and not all of them were in his administration. He also had a pet badger named Josiah.

  • Abraham Lincoln had a pet pig.

  • Zachary Taylor had a horse named "Old Whitey". I'm guessing that caused more than a few chuckles amongst the stable staff.

  • John Quincy Adams had a pet alligator, and pet silkworms. The thing about those silkworms is that they are so soft and cuddly.

  • George Washington had a lot of dogs. Among them were Drunkard, Taster, Tipsy, and Tipler. I'm guessing old George liked to imbibe on occasion. He also had a dog named "Sweetlips" (make up your own joke).

We now return you to your regularly scheduled 21st Century.

Hit-whoring Update:

Okay, so here were were slaving over a hot keyboard all day, trying to cleverly work HOT NUDE BORG ON BORG ACTION into our stories in order to pad our hit counts, and what's the first sex-related search term that hits our site? (I am not making this up) "Hampsters with big balls".

Internet people are sick.

On an unrelated note, does anyone know the best way to feed steroids to a rodent?
Omar's Driver Blames American Bombing For Lost Sense of Irony

Some ten years ago, I was picking a girlfriend up from a Beatles fan convention in Los Angeles. The big draw for the con was Wilf SomebodyOrOther-On-Thames, the Fab Four's onetime chauffeur. Wilf had written a tell-all book about those crazy days, which I had no interest in reading, but which I imagine was filled with such gems as:

"Mister Lennon was very much a man of the people, and he frequently washed his atomic-powered Rolls Royce himself, using Yoko as a chamois."

"Mawster George, as the others called him, was deeply spiritual. He liked to do bong hits in the limo, then have me drive through Whitechapel so he could pelt the whores with tenpence coins."


Now Omar's chauffeur has joined the drive-and-tell set, and shared some beauties with Newsweek:

OMAR'S FRUGALITY: "...as well as other associates of Omar interviewed by Newsweek, pointed out that the mullah was seen as a man of the people..."

followed a few lines later by:

"Saheb's vantage point at the wheel of one of Omar's several luxury SUV's..."

"When Omar was elevated in 1996 to become the Leader of the Faithful he insisted on personal frugality..."

OMAR'S QUIET RESOLVE: "According to Saheb, Omar initially spurned advisers who begged him to flee to safety. "Even if [President] Bush shows up at my door, I will not leave," said Omar. Knowing that the Americans would target his SUV, aides ushered Omar into a rickshaw and pulled him to the center of town, Omar shifted to a mud-covered truck and disappeared. He spent the next several days moving from house to house, sleeping in basements."

[Follow-up interviews with Kandahar area basement owners revealed growing disenchantment with the one eyed cleric. "He didn't help with the dishes even once", says 'Marcy', who let the reclusive mullah stay in her rec room over night. "And there was no toilet paper left in the downstairs bathroom after he was gone."]

OMAR'S INTEGRITY:"As part of the Taliban's war on decadence, Omar had banned all forms of music, but riding in his SUV he liked to pop in a CD of Saraji, a Taliban who has sold millions of records of patriotic war songs."

OMAR'S PERSONAL HYGIENE:"...after a time the car began to reek of a kind of perfume which, Omar claimed, had been worn by the Prophet Muhammad himself."

OMAR'S NOT AS STUPID AS YOU THOUGHT: "He claims that Omar took a fourth spouse (the maximum allowed by Islamic law) to avoid marrying bin Laden's daughter and becoming ensnared in future family squabbles."

["Osama often called him 'Meathead', while referring to his own wife, a relative of Omar's, as 'Dingbat'."]

OMAR'S FORESIGHT:"According to Haji Mohammed Alkozai, the director of the construction company that built the ruler's compound, Omar provided specifications on the strength of a cruise missile and demanded that the house be fortified to withstand attacks."

["OK. It has to be at least as strong as a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory. Think you can manage that?"]


Inspector Cona, Call Your Office

From a Chicago Sun Times article on the Miss France Pageant:

Last year's Miss France winner, Elodie Gossuin, 20, was accused of being a man. The issue was resolved following a "close inspection" of Gossuin during the swimsuit and ballgown fittings at the Miss Universe competition in Puerto Rico last May. This convinced officials that the student nurse was all woman.

These guys ran Vietnam for years. Does the Vietnam War make any more sense to you now?


Your Media at Work:

This week on Reliable Sources, Jim Warren of The Chicago Tribune admits:

[regarding Enron]
But at heart to the extent it is a journalism story, I think it underscores the tremendous ignorance in all of our newsrooms about business and finance.

The company that Leo and I belong to, Tribune Company, is passing out stock options this year in lieu of raises, and most of our people don't even have a clue what a stock option is.

Keep that in mind when the inevitable handwringing about corporate America starts appearing in the press.
WE GET LETTERS:

Gentlemen, I'd like to take issue with your inference that I don't understand economics. I'll have you know that I have a full grasp on the workings of the American economy. Just this morning I had a meeting with my staff and informed them that I want to visit the mines where the money gnomes create our wealth. Judging by the shocked looks on the faces around the table, it's very rare for a government official to make such a tour. That's how much I care.

Sincerely,

Tom Daschle