"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."


Glenn Reynolds:

Barack Obama:
"Impossible to transcend."

Albert A. Gore, Jr.:
"An incontinent brute."

Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
"God damn the Gentleman Farmer."

Friends of GF's Sons:
"Is that really your dad?"

Kickball Girl:
"Keeping 'em alive until 7:45."

Hired Hand:
"I think . . . we forgot the pheasant."

I'm an
Alcoholic Yeti
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Friday, September 30, 2005

September 30, 1982

We Just Report the News

As reported in yesterday's New York Post, reprinted HERE (without the necessity of registration):

"AMERICA'S first black female billionaire just got remarried. Sheila Johnson, the ex-wife of BET founder Robert Johnson, tied the knot with Judge William Newman at her Salamander Farm in Middleburg, Va., on Saturday. Newman met Johnson when he presided over her 2002 divorce case against Robert, her husband of 33 years. Newman's decision evenly split the $3 billion Johnson netted after Viacom bought BET."

[So let's see: 1/2 of 1/2 of $3 Billion = $750 million. Assume annual judicial salary = $150,000. Then, 5,000 years times $150,000 = $750,000,000.]


Truth (II)

"I am coming to realize this: of the 10,000 tunes I have in iTunes, I don’t like about 7,000 of them. Or I am indifferent. But I can’t get rid of them because I might need them. Or come to like them. I did, however, get rid of all the 30s European swing I somehow picked up, because that stuff creeps me out. Most of the music is by The Ramblers, a Dutch group that played nice with the Nazzis (as Churchill would have said; I always find that pronunciation jarring) but ended up in a concentration camp anyway. But it must have been one of those Stalag 13 B-grade camps, because according to a review of a Ramblers compilation, “they managed to escape.” Man, there’s a story: an entire band gets set to the camp, and escapes en masse, preferably in costume. It’s The Beatles Meet the Killing Fields! Or not: this page says the band’s darkest moment was when it kicked out the Jewish members in 41."

From James Lileks.


From Savage Chickens, of course.

Thursday, September 29, 2005



Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Stupid police trick stories are a dime a dozen. You know what we mean:

“Police Arrest Man for Brewing Coffee While Naked”

“Police Taser 4-year-old for Possession of Sharp Barrette”

“Police Chase 500-pound Jogger”

and so forth. And we normally decline to comment.

But for some reason, this story caught our eye.

It seems that in New York City some public parks have been designated as “children only.” This includes the Rivington Playground on Manhattan's East Side, which has a small sign at the entrance warning that adults are prohibited unless they are accompanied by a child.

Seeing such a sign, we might chuckle at the obviously humorous reference to the myriad places from which children are excluded “unless accompanied by an adult.” Cute.

But not so cute in the city that never sleeps (which explains a lot):

Forty-seven-year-old Sandra Catena says she didn't see the sign when she sat down to wait for an arts festival to start. Two New York City police officers asked her if she was with a child. When she said no, they gave her a ticket that could bring a one thousand dollar fine and 90 days in jail.

Now you might complain that this is just another routinely silly story, not worth your time, and not all that amusing. And you would be right.

But what caused us to pause in this instance was the following paragraph:

The city parks department says the rule is designed to keep pedophiles out of city parks . . . .

Think about that for a moment.

Your basic predatory pedophile makes his way down the street toward the attractive sound of kiddies playing at Rivington Playground. Scary music gets louder in the background. But just as he’s about to enter, prepared to offer candy, a ride home, or avuncular advice to the unsuspecting, he is brought up short by the sign:


Fearful that his absence of diminutive accompaniment will be his undoing, he is thwarted. Intimidated, abashed, chagrined, he gathers his trench coat about himself and slinks off down the street, in search of a park less perfectly protected.

We can but wonder what has taken Western Civilization so long to hit upon this device. Like all truly great ideas, it is obvious once explained, and has myriad applications:






And when contemplating the etiology if this ordinance, why do gun-control laws come to mind?

But that's just us.

[UPDATE: Visitors of all persuasions really ought also to take a look at the main page, HERE.]

International Blog of Mystery

If you have occasion to visit the Elbow Beach Hotel in Hamilton, Bermuda, please take the opportunity casually to sidle up to either of the high-speed internet terminals in the lobby. Click on "favorites," and there, big as life, you'll find a direct link to HERE.

[Well, we TOLD you it was a link to here, and it was, was it not? Yes it was.]

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

A Complete Unknown

The Hired Hand having made the original call to watch the Marty Scorsese rendering of a vast pile of Bob Dylan related film, stills, recordings and the like, I will leave it to him to post a definitive review. Hired Hand is, after all, the student of such things, having come to Dylan, I strongly suspect, via the Beatles. For him, therefore, watching was much like studying a historical documentary.

For me, however, the experience was much more like watching a very good movie that was made from a book well-known to me, if not to everyone. I cannot help but wonder what it looked like to someone who has not read the book. And I cannot help but note that Hired Hand selected the cover art from Nashville Skyline for his post.

Mostly I was reminded. I was reminded that 35 years ago, on my all-night radio program, I used Dave Van Ronk’s "Random Canyon" as a theme song.

I was reminded that (whatever the Beatles or the Hired Hand think) it is a fact that Dylan was a folk singer, and was always a folk singer. Sometimes his folk music was country, sometimes it was rock, sometimes it was western, sometimes it was southern, sometimes it was amplified, sometimes it was synthesized, but it was ALWAYS American folk.

I was reminded what a babe Joan Baez was. I was reminded that Johnny Cash sang “I Walk the Line,” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1963.

Last night’s first installment ends in something like 1963, and Scorsese, being Scorsese, waits until the last 10 minutes of this first half before he permits even a glimpse of Dylan and a motorcycle, a device which succeeds in producing a shudder (at least in those of us who have read the book).

Tune in again tonight.

More Protest News

My views on the political significance of "protest babes" are well known and well documented. Further explication would be superfluous. Draw your own conclusions (photos by Ed McNamara).

(The last young woman, by the way, is a former MP.)

These Are Not Your Father's Anti-War Protesters

It is possible to argue that Christopher Hitchins is indispensable. Aside from his intellect and skill as a writer, he is set apart by his astonishment at the reflexive reaction to Islamofascism by his former fellow travelers on the anti-anti-Communist, Stalinist Left. On the occasion of the "anti-war" demonstrations in Washington this past weekend, he reflects on the nature of the "anti-war" movement:
There are only two serious attempts at swamp-draining currently under way. In Afghanistan and Iraq, agonizingly difficult efforts are in train to build roads, repair hospitals, hand out ballot papers, frame constitutions, encourage newspapers and satellite dishes, and generally evolve some healthy water in which civil-society fish may swim. But in each case, from within the swamp and across the borders, the most poisonous snakes and roaches are being recruited and paid to wreck the process and plunge people back into the ooze. How nice to have a "peace" movement that is either openly on the side of the vermin, or neutral as between them and the cleanup crew, and how delightful to have a press that refers to this partisanship, or this neutrality, as "progressive."
Lest you miss the point:
To be against war and militarism, in the tradition of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, is one thing. But to have a record of consistent support for war and militarism, from the Red Army in Eastern Europe to the Serbian ethnic cleansers and the Taliban, is quite another. It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh. And this in a week when Afghans went back to the polls, and when Iraqis were preparing to do so, under a hail of fire from those who blow up mosques and U.N. buildings, behead aid workers and journalists, proclaim fatwahs against the wrong kind of Muslim, and utter hysterical diatribes against Jews and Hindus.
Anti-War, My Foot, in Slate. Photograph by Michelle Malkin.

Friday, September 23, 2005

"Why yes," he said, "I think it can be very easily done!"

With a rightful nod to the drama unfolding on the Gulf Coast, G&S takes a break to remind its readers that Martin Scorcese's labor of (self-)love, No Direction Home, will air on PBS this Sunday and Monday (UPDATE) MONDAY AND TUESDAY night (9/26 and 9/27) at 9 pm. Some will say it's long-awaited, others will take a curmudgeonly approach (Gentleman Farmer, perhaps) and hem and haw.

Slate has a couple of good pieces on the film itself as well as familiar stumbles in deconstructing the 60's. Say what you will - Dylan is/was amazing. 225 minutes of footage is a lot from a guy (Scorcese) who has spent his career trying to make himself into a legend, about a guy (Dylan) who spent his career trying to stop people from turning him into a legend. (And then showed up in a commercial with a bunch of women in their underwear. Thumbs up.)

Probably worth a look. I'll be on the couch. Go ahead and Tivo "Rome."

UPDATE: Got a little carried away at first. It's Monday and Tuesday night. Tivo the Chiefs-Broncos on MNF. Get a friend to tape Laguna Beach.

Die, cable man, DIE!

NTL is a British cable company. Like its brethren on this side of the pond, it would like to sell you cable TV, broadband internet service, local telephone service, long distance telephone service, newpapers, magazines and stuffed animals. It's the 21st Century! It's synergy!

Most of us have been there. We've waited for the cable guy. We've been trapped in voice-mail jail. We've been told that the solution to the problem is to call a different number, which turns out to have been disconnected. We've watched our internet connection slow to a crawl, and been told by technical support to check the modem cables.

I've stumbled across what purports to be a letter of complaint from a (shall we say) "dissatisfied" customer of NTL:
I have been informed that a telephone line is available (and someonewill call me back); that no telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off); that I will be transferred to someone (and then been redirected to an answer machine informing me that your office is closed); that I will be transferred to someone and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman...and several other variations on this theme.
We cannot vouch for the authenticity of the letter; whether it is real or fiction is beside the point: It speaks for us!

Tonya Ruined Casual Friday for Everybody

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Great Barbeque

There is a mighty move afoot in the blogosphere to pressure members of Congress to agree to forego porkbarrel federal spending in their states and districts so that the funds can be used for Hurricane Katrina (and, any minute now, Hurricane Rita) relief. As explained by Instapundit:

How are we going to mobilize the blogosphere in support of cuts in wasteful spending to support Katrina relief? Here's the plan.

Identify some wasteful spending in your state or (even better) Congressional District. Put up a blog post on it. Go to N.Z. Bear's new PorkBusters page and list the pork, and add a link to your post.

Then call your Senators and Representative and ask them if they're willing to support having that program cut or -- failing that -- what else they're willing to cut in order to fund Katrina relief. (Be polite, identify yourself as a local blogger and let them know you're going to post the response on your blog). Post the results. Then go back to NZ Bear's page and post a link to your followup blog post.

The result should be a pretty good resource of dubious spending, and Congressional comments thereon, for review by blogs, members of the media, etc. And maybe even members of Congress looking for wasteful spending . . . .

Over at The Truth Laid Bear, proprietor N.Z. Bear has published a list that sets out every member of Congress, alongside a statement of the amount of pork that member has agreed to give up in the name of hurricane relief spending.

This proposal, it seems to me, is hopelessly naive with respect to income as well as outgo.

Let’s talk about income. As currently set up, “PorkBusters” contemplates requesting members of Congress to agree that some federal expenditure that benefits their district is pure porkbarrel spending: without legitimate public benefits in line with its cost, little more than stealing from the Treasury.

Call me crazy, but I think it’s pretty unlikely any Congressman will agree. Not because their district is somehow more important than the victims of Katrina, but because their district simply doesn’t get any such porky cash.

Because “pork” is entirely in the eye of the beholder. Take the now famous “bridge to nowhere” sponsored by Alaska Congressman Don Young, (not incidentally) chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Locals love it, of course, and won’t soon forget their Congressman’s largesse (using my cash, of course).

I share with most critics of this project one important thing: ignorance. I have no idea where this bridge goes to, where it comes from, and whether it makes the slightest bit of sense. For all I know, its construction will lead to an economic Renaissance for Alaska, unearth a cure for the common cold, and cause my doctor to recommend that I take up smoking again.

But I’m nonetheless opposed to this obvious pork, for the only reason that counts: I’ll never use the bridge; I don’t know anyone who will ever use the bridge; I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who will ever use the bridge.

So it’s pork. Obviously. Plain as that nose . . .

On the other hand, I know necessary safety and infrastructure improvements when I see them.

A few years back, for example, a private school here in Washington wished to move to a bigger, better campus on tony Foxhall Road in the District of Columbia. The neighbors, as neighbors will, threw in the way of this plan every possible obstacle that could be conceived and deployed by the chronically overpaid, grossly underemployed, and always angry upper-middle class. All were successfully countered but one: some string-puller in the neighborhood had induced the bureaucrats in the District Government to impose a condition that the road be widened, a left-turn lane constructed, and a traffic light installed. It would cost more than $1,000,000, which was a million dollars more than the school had to spend.

But not to worry: federal transportation funds in just that amount were earmarked for just that project. (It's Project #98 HERE.)

Pork? Not on your life. This was a vital expenditure to protect the safety of our citizens. Money well spent.

And, yes, #2 Son attended the school.

The point is that no member of Congress is going to admit that he has, in effect, stolen from the taxpayers in California to pay off the voters back home in his district in Arkansas. It’s just not going to happen.

Far wiser would have been a program to urge members of Congress to identify important, worthy, long-overdue expenditures that could nevertheless safely be postponed in favor of the more pressing obligations imposed by the hurricane. A matter of priority, not an admission of wrongdoing. Because while it’s easy to accuse a Congressman of being a crook, it's rather another thing to convince him to pay for the rope you need to hang him.

Let’s address outgo. By setting up the movement as has been done, there is implicit approval given to “Katrina relief,” to use Professor Reynolds’ words. A worthy cause. Who is so stone-hearted as to be left unmoved by the piteous plight of helpless victims?

But (not having just ridden into town on a load of turnips) it seems obvious to me that before the first billion dollars is spent on “Katrina relief,” we will be heavily into directing money to friends, supporters and miscellaneous potential voters; expenditures otherwise known as “pork.”

Moreover, before the second billion dollars has been spent on “Katrina relief,” we will have begun to “rebuild New Orleans.”

Now I stand first in line to hand out clothes, shoes, water, food, jobs, school vouchers, gas money and so on to people displaced by Katrina. And I happily support the expenditure of my tax dollars for this sort of aid. But I want no part of rebuilding New Orleans.

If the voters of Louisiana want to foot the bill to rebuild a city below sea level, then good luck and more power to them. Indeed, if The Walt Disney Company wants to undertake the construction of a new theme park,“New Orleans Land,” in return for an equity participation, then Godspeed! (I can hear it now, instead of Tony’s Restaurant from “Lady and the Tramp,” it will be “Hey Schwartz family! Paul Prudhomme has got a table for you!”) (Perhaps Tinkerbell could sprinkle fairy dust on young women willing to flash their breasts.)

But I’ll take a pass on the expenditure of my tax money to rebuild a city that ought never to have been constructed in the first place.

Bottom line: In The Gilded Age, Mark Twain described the world of post-Civil War greed, corruption, speculation and cronyism as “The Great Barbeque.” “Katrina Relief” will result in a pig-fest that will make that era look like a backyard cookout.

I must respectfully dissent.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Start spreading the news . . . .

Why would someone pay $50 a year to read Maureen Dowd and Paul Krugman, when you can go HERE for free? I must be missing something.

Do you suppose the venerable New York Times has hired someone to do any economic modeling? Consulted with anyone who has reviewed the relevant markets and important business trends?

Oops . . . .

Monday, September 19, 2005

Avast ye slimy bilge rats!

Yes, indeed, as has been noted, today is "Talk Like a Pirate" Day (much like National Asparagras Day, but rather more fun). It is a day that presents certain questions. For example, would you rather say this:
The committee has decided to reallocate your time to the filing group. We look forward to the exciting new synergies between these departments.
Or would you instead rather shout this, with an appropriate accent:
Aye matey, those scalawags in their fine breeches want ye' to move o'er with the scurvy dogs yonder. If ye' don't come back with some fine booty, we be keelhaulin' you next morn!
Not only does the answer appear to us obvious, but there are also sartorial advantages. More information HERE.

This Just In: Apparently. . . .

. . .you CAN afford to trust the word of a psychotic, murderous, megalomaniacal dictator when it comes to the world's most heinous weapons.

(At least, when you're in a fiscal and political pinch and your approval rating is 40%.)

Friday, September 16, 2005

If you don't understand

Then there's really nothing to discuss.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Jackson Square?

The President addressed the nation this evening from Jackson Square in New Orleans.

Commemorating the Battle of New Orleans, in which Andrew Jackson punished the British late in 1814 (some weeks after the Treaty of Ghent had ended the War of 1812), one must wonder at the choice of venue.

Jackson, of course, had met in late April of 1805 with Aaron Burr, and pledged his support for Burr's enterprise to wrest control of Mexico from the degenerate Spanish dons. If successful, the coup would have placed the vital Mississippi River in American (albeit not Virginian) hands. Jackson believed it wise to associate himself with the man likely to shortly be proclaimed Emperor of Mexico.

Jackson's recollection of events became, shall we say, "unreliable" when Mr. Jefferson hit upon the notion of eliminating his political rival by trumping up treason charges against Burr. So desperate was Jefferson to destroy Burr by any means necessary, he stooped to make common cause with General James Wilkinson, later ineluctably established to be in the pay of the King of Spain (as "Agent No. 13"). Wilkinson, as a companion of Burr during the Revolution, had passed himself off as a friend to those seeking to liberate Mexico. Though Burr was acquitted in a trial presided over by Chief Justice Marshall, Jefferson's conspiracy was nonetheless successful, and Burr's political power broken.

Jackson continued his habit of political chicanery in the disputed election of 1824. John Quincy Adams, author of the "Monroe" Doctrine, was the obvious successor to James Monroe, last of the Virginia Junta presidents. Jackson capitalized on Adams' controversial abolitionist sentiments and managed to so poison the air that students of American history are, to this day, lectured about the "corrupt bargain" that brought Adams to the presidency. Jackson's complaints, foreshadowing Al Gore's selfish rage in 2000, undermined the legitimacy of the system, and questioned the constitutional process.

Jackson, of course, prevailed in 1828, ushering in a succession of weak presidents. Only the establishment of the Republican Party -- with abolition as its central tenet -- and the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, delivered the United States from the grasp of the corrupt slave power of the Jeffersonian Democrats.

Mr. Bush would do well in the future to consult with reliable students of American history before selecting the backdrop for major speeches.

Just so . . .

Dahlia Lithwick notes:
"Here's a man long accustomed to answering really hard questions from extremely smart people, suddenly faced with the almost-harder task of answering obvious questions from less-smart people. He finds himself standing in a batting cage with the pitching machine set way too slow."

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Wilmington, N.C.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Office Casual

Laugh Out Loud

I am not a laugh-out-loud person. I am an amused-smile person. But for laughoutloud funny, check in at CAPTION THIS!

Ashley or Mary-Kate?

John Tierney in today's New York Times observes that John Roberts, having been cross-examined many times by the Supreme Court of the United States, is unlikely to be tricked, trapped or guided into saying anything he doesn't intend to say. Least of all by his current interlocutors, "senators posing as legal scholars." Tierney notes:
The only hope for Democrats is to try the tactics used by interrogation pros like Israeli airport screeners and U.S. customs agents. These experts know that a smart criminal will have rehearsed a cover story for, say, what he was doing in London and why he's going to New York.

But if he's asked something unexpected - how he liked the London weather, whether he's planning to visit Times Square - he has to change mental gears. He's apt to exhibit telltale signs of a liar under stress, like gazing upward and to his right as he answers.
The list of suggested questions includes these gems:

If Roe v. Wade were a tree, what kind of tree would it be?

Is there any chance that you could speed up Justice Stevens's retirement by addressing him as "Gramps"?

In your best judgment, did Brad and Jen really just grow apart, or was it Angelina's fault?

From your analysis of constitutional history, would you classify James Madison as a dog person or a cat person?

Would you consider instituting a casual Friday dress policy on the bench?

Would it be a violation of Lois Lane's so-called right to privacy if Superman used his X-ray vision to look through her clothes?

During the announcement of your nomination at the White House, your son distracted the president with an impromptu dance. When you got home that night, what happened to him [the son, not the President]?

When you were a clerk at the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Warren Burger was disliked for his pretentiousness. What nickname did the clerks have for him? Burger King?

When justices have birthday parties, should they invite all the other justices, or can they invite just the ones they like?

Ashley or Mary-Kate?

Your passion for correct grammar and syntax is well known, but you have yet to inform the American people of your position on the serial comma. In the phrase "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," should there be a comma after "liberty"?

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Mark Steyn:
"Only a tiny minority of Muslims want to be suicide bombers, and only a slightly larger minority want actively to provide support networks for suicide bombers, but big majorities of Muslims support almost all the terrorists' strategic goals: For example, according to a recent poll, over 60 percent of British Muslims want to live under sharia in the United Kingdom. That's a "moderate" Westernized Muslim: He wants stoning for adultery to be introduced in Liverpool, but he's a "moderate" because it's not such a priority that he's prepared to fly a plane into a skyscraper.

"As with IRA killers and the broader Irish nationalist population, these shared aims provide a large comfort zone in which terror networks can operate. And it enables the non-violent lobby groups to use the terrorists -- or the threat of terrorists -- as part of a good cop/bad cop routine. Thus, the Islamic lobby groups pressure governments to make concessions to them rather than to the terrorists -- even though both elements share the same aims. You can pluck out news items at random: In London, a religious "hate crimes" law that makes honest discussion of Islam even more difficult; in Ontario, the moves toward sharia courts for Muslim community disputes; in Seattle, the introduction of gender-separate, Muslim-only swimming sessions in municipal pools. The 9/11 terrorists were in favor of all these things.

"So four years on we're winning in the Middle East and Central Asia, floundering in Europe and North America. War is hell, but a war that half the country refuses to recognize as such staggers on as a very contemporary kind of purgatory."

Friday, September 09, 2005

World Headlines at this Hour

"Man Arrested After Nailing Home Shut"

"Sweaty, Smelly, Cramped Commuters Squashed Into State of Rail Rage"

"Chimps Find No Safety in Sex"

"Malaysian Prison Hotel Seeks Masochistic Tourists"

Irish Commentary

As any properly educated person knows, the Irish saved Western Civilization once upon a time. It is our opinion that, understood properly, it is more true than not to say the Irish are Western Civilization. While it is no part of the subject of this post, we observe that this comes about by the confluence of three conditions: The unique combination of Ireland's beautiful but difficult land, beautiful but difficult whiskey, and beautiful but difficult women. But we digress.

With the perspective that comes both of being Irish, and writing for the Irish Times, Newton Emerson provides important insight into the effects of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. He asks and answers a series of important questions. For example:
As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the entire political agenda of George Bush's second term will not still be damaged in some terribly satisfying way.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that the entire political agenda of George Bush's second term consists of repealing the 22nd Amendment. Otherwise, with a clear Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, he can carry on doing pretty much whatever he likes.

As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking if the Republican Party itself will now suffer a setback at the congressional mid-term elections next November.

The answer is almost certainly yes, provided that people outside the disaster zone punish their local representatives for events elsewhere a year previously, both beyond their control and outside their remit, while people inside the disaster zone reward their local representatives for an ongoing calamity they were supposed to prevent. Otherwise, the Democratic Party will suffer a setback at the next congressional election.
There is much more in this vein, including:
As the full horror of this sinks in, thousands of desperate columnists are asking how a civilised city can descend into anarchy.

The answer is that only a civilised city can descend into anarchy.
The whole thing is reprinted on Slugger O'Toole, just HERE.

There'll always be an Ireland.

That would be different

That tiger meat is thought by some to pass on to those who consume it the tiger’s strength, cunning and potency is hardly surprising. And, we suppose, as sparks of free enterprise flash faintly inside China, we ought not be surprised that some enterprising entrepreneur might seek to take advantage of that traditional superstition.

Enter the proprietors of the Hufulou restaurant (pictured above), who offered stir-fried tiger meat with hot peppers for 800 yuan (US$98), which could be accompanied by a nice wine flavored with tiger bone for 600 yuan (US$74). Raw tiger meat was reportedly available for 7,000 yuan per kilo, or about $430 per pound.

And the Hufulou had a local tie-in, a special hook to draw patrons: it’s right down the road from the Hengdaohezi Siberian Tiger Park, China's largest Siberian tiger breeding center. A waiter in the restaurant, asked the source of the meat, explained that “the owner of the restaurant had good connections within the tiger park and could get the meat of dead tigers.”

Of course even in China tigers are an endangered species, and provided with considerable protection, not the least of which is from becoming dinner for dissipated tourists.

Accordingly, Government Officials (of which the People’s Republic has a plethora), closed down the restaurant and confiscated the tiger meat.

But wait, protested Ma Shikun, the owner: it’s not really tiger meat that he was selling, but instead nothing more than common donkey meat that had been soaked in tiger urine so as to “give the dish a ‘special’ flavor.” Of which claim we have no doubt.

We know that our readers are wholly capable of providing their own punch line for this story, along the lines of it following in the great tradition of Chinese cooking, or of rewarding the owner for his ingenuity with an appearance on Iron Chef, or of demonstrating that the great Chinese people clearly are entirely ready for capitalism.

Chinese Government officials, however, were not amused, and confiscated Mr. Shikun’s profits.

From the English-language version of the China Daily.

I Forgot!

One of Steve Martin’s earliest comic routines involved answering the question “So, you want to make a million dollars, and pay no taxes?” His solution is a two-step procedure: First, get a million dollars. Second, when the Government comes by and says “Hey! You’ve got a million dollars, and paid no taxes!” Just answer “I FORGOT!” (I think it's on this album.)

For most of us the unlikelihood of accomplishing Step One would preclude taking advantage of the benefits of Step Two. Not so Richard Hatch, who received $1,000,000 as the winner of the first season of the “reality” show “Survivor.”

[If you’ve never heard of Richard Hatch, congratulations. If you’ve never heard of “Survivor,” we hail you as a confirmed grown-up. If you’ve never heard of “reality TV,” we’re very happy that whole thing with the coma worked out for the best.]

AP reports:

Richard Hatch, who won $1 million on the first season of the reality show "Survivor," was indicted Thursday for failing to pay taxes on his winnings.

Mr. Hatch did not quite claim that he forgot, but instead explained “he thought CBS was responsible for paying the taxes on his prize.”

Hatch is obviously one of those big-picture kind of guys, who can’t let himself be distracted by details concerning who’s paying the taxes on his million dollars.

AP reports that Hatch could not be reached for comment because he was “on a plane headed for Houston . . . to help hurricane victims.”

Of course he was.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Capitalism in Action!

'Spose it's real? Link HERE.

NEVER drink and . . .

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - An inebriated Belgian woman died in a freak accident when she ended up beneath a heavy grave stone at a cemetery, local news agency Belga said on Wednesday.

The 33-year-old was on her way home from a bar in the Belgian town of Pulle in the early hours of Saturday when she took a short cut through the cemetery.

But she urgently needed to relieve herself and crouched down between two gravestones. As she lost her balance, she grabbed one of the stones which gave way and landed on top of her.

The public prosecutor's office said she died of suffocation as she was unable to lift the heavy stone.


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

I Feel Much Better

Having just forked over $70 to gas up the truck, I was glad to see that Lileks had the answer:
Oh, stop complaining about high gasoline prices. Adjusted for inflation it’s still not as costly as it would have been in 27 AD, when the cost of pumping by hand and straining light sweet crude through slave livers would have been ruinous. And it’s still cheaper than it was in 1981, before Ronald Reagan brought the price down by firing the air controllers, who stopped driving to work and thus reduced demand. Or something like that. In any case, it could be worse.

What’s that, you say? You live in the present, and hence are disinclined to accept windy bromides about historical trends? Well, you have a point. So what to do about our gas crisis? The options are few, but clear. Start with this: The government cuts taxes on gas to put money back in people’s pockets, and reduces the regulatory obstacles to new refinery construction.



(Gales of laughter; wiping tears from eyes) Oh, that’s a good one, isn’t it.
And there's more! Much MORE.

Victims & Survivors

Julie Neidlinger writes:
"Some of the people you see on TV are survivors and some are victims. The difference is in their head and is easily seen in how they react. The survivors will naturally survive. The victims will never forgive whoever happens to be on their usual list of suspects to blame, and their lives will be permanently stuck on page Hurricane Katrina as an excuse for their future until the day they die. They won't survive this, though they will live. "


Mark Steyn writes:
Unlike 9/11, when the cult of victimhood was temporarily suspended in honour of the many real, actual victims under the rubble, in New Orleans everyone claimed the mantle of victim, from the incompetent mayor to the "oppressed" guys wading through the water with new DVD players under each arm.

Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it's bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness.

New Orleans is a party town in the middle of a welfare swamp and, like many parties, it doesn't look so good when someone puts the lights up.

Everything You Need To Know

About donating to help with relief efforts on the Gulf Coast can be found HERE.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

It's About Time. . .

...the apologists for our dismal response to Katrina stopped quoting scripture in a snarky and self-righteous manner. While it's a rare occurrence to see a public dispute among your two G&S contributors, I also think it's important to remember what is fundamentally going on right now. Thousands could be dead and hundreds of thousands left homeless. I don't care WHAT set of circumstances, poor planning, or bureaucratic incompetence got us INTO this mess - but it is a moral imperative that we do whatever possible to fix it - NOW.

Katrina and her fallout all occurred within the last five days. The time has not yet come to blame houses built on sand, or poor people dependent on welfare, or municipal government for not being able to combat the effects of 30-foot storm surges in a town already below sea level.

I, your faithful West Coast correspondent for G&S, do not consider myself a Christian - indeed, I've been indoctrinated by the school of Secular Humanism for some time now. However, I was provided in high school with the Catholic Theologian's Tool Kit (again, no snarky comments, please), and feel quite strongly that if we're going to be quoting scripture at all here, there's only one passage that need be considered less than one week after this horrific catastrophe.

From Matthew 25:
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

Your resident Secular Humanist, signing off.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Laissez les bontemps roulez!

My patience is now exhausted. The Mayor of New Orleans (that is, the person primarily responsible for the delivery of emergency services to the people of that city, and the person primarily responsible for establishing plans and procedures to deal with emergencies), has begun to complain about the federal government. Story HERE.

The Mayor’s city was not hit by a meteor, nor destroyed by a suitcase nuke. It was, instead, inundated with flood waters as the consequence of a large tropical storm. This event was not only predictable, but widely predicted. The problem has been understood since the city was founded in 1718.

While we're at it, let me help solve the apparently insoluble problem of the folks at the New Orleans Superdome:

Anyone in that group who has joked within the last 30 days about how funny and “genuine” it is that the governments of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana are chronically inept and corrupt, go to the end of the line.

Anyone who, told to evacuate, decided to stay and shouted “Laissez les bontemps roulez!” go to the end of the line.

Every healthy male, age 16 through 50, not carrying his crippled grandmother, go to the end of the line.

Every person who arrived with pets, go to the end of the line.

Every person who arrived carrying absolutely no food, no water, and no other supplies of any sort, go to the end of the line.

More in this vein from Kathy Shaidle, titled “They shoot looters, don’t they? (Please)”

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Hits Just Keep On Coming

Dennis Hastert (R-IL), the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, was asked today by the Chicago Daily Herald about federal efforts to assist New Orleans in the wake of what is turning out to be a calamity beyond anyone's imagination. The Herald's story:

Lawmakers have to ask themselves if it’s worth sinking possibly billions of federal dollars into rebuilding New Orleans, a low-lying city which would remain a vulnerable hurricane target even after clean up, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said Wednesday.

“It doesn’t make sense to me,” said Hastert during an interview with the Daily Herald editorial board. “And it’s a question that certainly we should ask.”

Congress’ most powerful Republican undoubtedly wasn’t the first to think such a thought, but as the man at the head of a chamber charged with approving federal disaster aid legislation, he knows the potentially taboo topic won’t go away.

“First of all your heart goes out to the people, the loss of their homes,” said Hastert of Plano. “But there are some real tough questions to ask about how you go about rebuilding this city.”

Hastert said his office worked nine weeks straight putting together the disaster relief for New York City following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. This could take even longer, he said.

“We help replace, we help relieve disaster,” Hastert said. “That is certainly the decision the people of New Orleans are going to make.

“But I think federal insurance and everything goes along with it and we ought to take a second look at it,” Hastert added.

“But you know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake fissures and they rebuild, too. Stubbornness.”

Link to the story here.