Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I'd like my ashes inserted into shotguns shells and fired at a public figure to be determined at a later date. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 28, 2005

August 28, 2005. 6:42 pm. Autumn has oficially begun. A cold fast wind is banging a loose window screen against the glass, and it's clear it'll never be as hot at it's been -- at least not for the rest of this year.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

My goodness, this week's Entourage was something special. Awesome exchanges.

One between Mandy Moore's agent, Barbara Miller (Hi, Mom!), the whole Moore team, Vince's agent Ari Gold, and Vince's manager Eric Short Man.

Barbara Miller (Hi, Mom!): We both know that Vince has fucked half the actresses in this town. Mandy, on the other hand, is a good girl.
Eric: You seriously gonna sit there and let them badmouth Vince like this?
Ari: I thought that was a complement.


Vince's loser brother Johnny and loser bodyguard Turtle with Billy, the director of Vince's film QUEENS BOULEVARD. They're asking Billy to listen to a track to include on the movie's soundtrack.

Turtle: Billy, I know music. Trust me.
Billy: All right, but I want Johnnny's watch.
Turtle: No problem. (to Johnny) Gice him your watch.
Johnny: I ain't giving him my watch!
Billy: I'll put the liquor store scene back in and I'll listen to the song.
Johnny: Deal. (Gives Billy the watch)
Billy: I was going to put that scene back in anyway.

It's funny because it's true.

Thai PM To Pesky Reporters: Buzzzz

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has long complained of press criticism. But he sought to turn the tables Thursday with a new tactic — sounding a buzzer every time reporters ask questions he deems "not constructive."

To the surprise of journalists and colleagues alike, Thaksin raised a handheld buzzer — which displayed an "X" sign — from behind the podium to indicate his disapproval of some questions asked at the first in a new series of weekly news conferences.

The button-pushing Thaksin sounded the alarm when a Thai newspaperman asked why the government had failed to seek parliamentary consent before introducing an emergency decree in the volatile southern provinces, where a Muslim insurgency has taken hold.

"Not constructive!" he exclaimed, referring to the reporter's question and a related one about whether foreign terrorists might be linked to the rebellion.

But other questions elicited a sweeter response: when a female reporter asked about government plans to offset rising oil prices, Thaksin's gadget emitted a pleasant tone and displayed an "O," signaling his approval.

Thaksin joked about the buzzer to puzzled reporters: "My son brought it from Japan for his sister, and I just borrowed it to use with the media to make the atmosphere more relaxing."

But some journalists failed to see the humor.

"I think it's a little overboard for a prime minister to do anything like that because in this forum, I think, reporters have the right to ask any questions that concern the Thai people, the public interest," said Tulsathit Taptin, editor of The Nation, an English-language daily.

"They have the right to ask those kinds of questions," he said.

The new series of news conferences was organized by the government to give reporters better access to Thaksin and to information about government activities.

It wasn't clear whether Thaksin planned to keep using the buzzer.

On several occasions in the past, Thaksin has refused to talk to the press for a period of time after being angered by critical questions.
Great new blog by the screenwriter of Snakes on a Plane:


After a number of months I get my first offer: rewriting a serial killer movie for this little production company. I was living in an attic with shag carpeting, a velour sectional and a mattress on the floor. I had $1500 to my name. Unbeknownst to me until years later, this is how the negotiations went:

MY AGENT: I'm calling to discuss the Josh Friedman deal.
BUSINESS AFFAIRS: Great. I hear it's his first job. Congratulations.
MY AGENT: Thanks.
BUSINESS AFFAIRS: Whatcha looking for?
MY AGENT: A million dollars.
BUSINESS AFFAIRS: What kind of dumb fucking lesbian are you?
MY AGENT: Can I have a second chance?
BUSINESS AFFAIRS: Twenty thousand dollars. Take it or leave it.
MY AGENT: Take it. Thank you very much.
BUSINESS AFFAIRS: I'm sorry about the dumb fucking lesbian comment.
MY AGENT: No problem.
I found myself dissapointed by a story in the Weekly World News: DUMB POLISH HOOKERS PAY MEN TO HAVE SEX WITH THEM! That's not a WWN story, that's a Polack joke. It should be something like DUMB POLISH HOOKERS PAY BATBOY TO HAVE SEX WITH THEM!
Bush praises families of troops in Iraq

By Joseph Curl
Published August 25, 2005

NAMPA, Idaho -- President Bush yesterday paid glowing tribute to family members of soldiers serving in Iraq, telling hundreds of Idaho National Guardsmen that America owes them a debt of gratitude.

The president singled out Tammy Pruett of Pocatello, Idaho, who now has four sons in Iraq and whose husband and another son returned from war last year.

"Tammy says this -- and I want you to hear this -- 'I know that if something happens to one of the boys, they would leave this world doing what they believe, what they think is right for our country,' " Mr. Bush said.

"And I guess you couldn't ask for a better way of life than giving it for something that you believe in. America lives in freedom because of families like the Pruetts." The crowd, made up mostly of military family members, broke into cheers and "USA" chants.

Throughout Mr. Bush's 45-minute speech, the crowd of about 10,000 gathered in this Boise suburb offered thunderous applause -- rivaling that of supporters during his last presidential campaign.

The crowd stood in applause for a full minute after the president, leaning into the microphone to make his voice boom through the hall, vowed: "So long as I'm the president, we will stay, we will fight, and we will win the war on terror."

Singling out Mrs. Pruett appeared to be a direct rebuttal of anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, who has camped out for much of August near the Bushes' Texas ranch demanding a meeting with the president to discuss what she calls a "senseless war."

Mr. Bush, who after his speech yesterday met for the 25th time with family members of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, on Monday told reporters, "I've met with a lot of families. [Mrs. Sheehan] doesn't represent the view of a lot of families I have met with."

Mr. Bush met last year with Mrs. Sheehan, whose son, Army Spc. Casey Sheehan, was killed last year in Iraq. The president has now met with nearly 1,000 family members of 297 soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, White House officials said yesterday.

"We'll complete our work in Afghanistan and Iraq," Mr. Bush said. He took aim at critics who have called for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, saying: "An immediate withdrawal of our troops in Iraq, or the broader Middle East, as some have called for, would only embolden the terrorists and create a staging ground to launch more attacks against America and free nations."

Mr. Bush said the country faced a "clear choice" -- one of nine times in his speech that he used the word "clear" -- after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: Either give in to terrorists and isolate America or "bring the war to the terrorists, striking them before they could kill more of our people."

"I made a decision. America will not wait to be attacked again," he said. "We will confront emerging threats before they fully materialize."

Mr. Bush chose Idaho for yesterday's speech because the state has the highest percentage of National Guard troops currently serving in Iraq. The president used his speech to pay special tribute to Guard members and their families. More than 243,000 Guard members have been called up to serve in the war on terror, including more than 1,700 from Idaho.

"A time of war is a time of sacrifice, and a heavy burden falls on our military families. They miss you and they worry about you. By standing behind you, you're standing up for America -- the families are standing for America. And America appreciates the service and the sacrifice of the military families," Mr. Bush said.

The president, who noted that he is among 19 U.S. presidents to have served in the Guard, described as heroes the 491 Guard and Reserve members who have lost their lives in the fight against terror.

"And now we'll honor their sacrifice by completing their mission," he said to cheers from soldiers.


When I first read this article, it was from a Drudge link about Tammy Pruett, who I assumed was chosen to counter Cindy Sheehan because she was a mother who had lost a son (or "sons" actually) in Iraq, yet still supports the war. Turns out that no, Mrs. Pruitt has not lost any of her family serving, but still supports the war. I just can't see this as an effective rebuttal.

Which is yet another way I disagree with the Bush administration. The article, which is as sympathetic to Bush and the war as one might expect from the conservative Washington Times, says Singling out Mrs. Pruett appeared to be a direct rebuttal of anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, who has camped out for much of August near the Bushes' Texas ranch demanding a meeting with the president to discuss what she calls a "senseless war."

Since this talking point is coming from the right, it's a safe assumption that conservatives actually think that producing a woman who has not had a family member killed in the war is an effective, affecting response to counter a woman who has, in fact, lost a son. It boggles the mind. "Liberals ignore the good news from Iraq. We shouldn't focus on the soldiers who have been killed. What about all the soldiers who haven't been killed?" Do they honestly think that Sheehan's and Pruett's situations are equally tragic and moving?

My advice to the Bush administration: find someone who has lost a child who supports the war, if there are any. It'll be a whole lot more convicing.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My Free Will Astrology horoscope was surprisingly on-topic, considering my new messianic goals: A company's CEO is its chief executive officer, and the CFO is its chief financial officer. Even if you already serve in one of those roles, I'll ask you to give yourself a different title for at least the next two weeks: CVO, or chief visionary officer. In fact, please become an excitable purveyor of thrillingly out-of-the-box ideas no matter what line of work you're in, or even if you're unemployed. It's time for you to dream up possibilities that have been inconceivable until now. But also keep in the back of your mind this caveat, courtesy of business visionary Tom Grueskin. When asked by Fast Company, "Can the imagination ever run too wild?", he replied, "The imagination itself, no. What's done with it, yes."
Last night I went to a karaoke fundraiser at Theater Schmeater, where I'm on the board. I asked a friend of mine if she wanted to come. She said, "No, I'd rather go to the Rendezvous." That's a local one-time dive bar now gentrified into a hipster hang out.

"What's going on there," I said.

"I don't know."

As one might imagine, the fundraiser was not a great success.
On Friday, I went home sick from work and saw The 40 Year Old Virgin. There was an elderly couple in front of me in the ticket line. When I asked for my ticket, the old man turned to me and said, "Is that your life story?" I don't remember the last time a stranger insulted me. I'm also concerned that I look forty.

Monday, August 15, 2005

I'm always good for a crazed shooter story. But it's rare when the article, almost as an aside, reveals that this year's Marine of the Year was a mortician. Sadly, he was probably the hardest-working Marine in Iraq.

Decorated Marine opened fire on noisy crowd
By Associated Press
Sunday, August 14, 2005

LAWRENCE, Mass. - A Lawrence man who was named ``Marine of the Year'' last month is charged with firing a shotgun at a crowd of revelers outside his second-floor apartment, wounding two people.

Thirty-three-year-old Daniel Cotnoir allegedly fired a bullet at the crowd only minutes after he called police to complain about the noise they were making as they left a nearby nightclub and restaurant early Saturday.

The Lawrence Eagle-Tribune reports that a 15-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man were injured by bullet fragments from the shooting.

Cotnoir was arrested and held on $100,000 bail. He was to be arraigned tomorrow on attempted murder charges.

Last month, the Marine Corps Times presented Cotnoir with its annual Marine of the Year award. He beat out 180,000 other candidates for the honor.

Cotnoir, now a Marine reservist, was a military mortician in Iraq. During his deployment last year, he was responsible for preparing soldiers for open-casket funerals.

Update on the World's Ugliest Dog. I am very relieved that he is not a cuddler.

'Ugliest' Dog Is a Thing of Beauty to His Owner

Some people won't even touch Susie Lockheed's pooch, a champion of hideousness. But she's dedicated to him despite the world's opinion.
By Wendy Lee
Times Staff Writer

August 15, 2005

SANTA BARBARA — Some may call it a tale of beauty and the beast. But Sam, a 14-year-old pedigreed Chinese crested, and a three-time champ in the World's Ugliest Dog Contest, is the dog of Susie Lockheed's dreams.

Lockheed, 53, enjoys massaging Sam's fleshy, thin, potato-chip ears and running her fingers through the small patches of white hair on his head.

She likes kissing Sam's hairless frame, littered with blackheads, brown warts and moles. Even his hindquarters have a large hernia lump.

Then there's his right eye, left a reddish-purple from cataracts, which stands out from the other, which is a milky white.

"I've never had a dog this much in love with me," Lockheed said. "I really baby Sam, and kiss him a lot. He's a toad [that's] going to turn into a prince."

Sam is one of four hairless dogs that love to groggily lounge on the couch in Lockheed's Santa Barbara home, where she operates a beauty salon.

Lockheed grew up in Palos Verdes Estates with household pets and suffered from allergies that would worsen when she was near furry dogs.

She said her life changed when a friend gave her TatorTot, a Chinese crested and Chihuahua mix, for her 40th birthday. "I never had a dog I could cuddle with before," she said.

Later, Lockheed would adopt dogs Tinkerbelle and Sam and would buy PixieNoodle, all hairless dogs. Her friends approve the "cuteness" factor of the other dogs. Sam is a different story.

Though Lockheed had wanted her other dogs, she had to be persuaded to take in the world's ugliest dog. He had already been rejected by an adoption agency, which deemed him too homely for any home they knew. Sam's former owner, who was moving to a place where dogs weren't allowed, was desperate, Lockheed said.

"He didn't look so good then, but he's looking worse now," Lockheed said, adding that in recent years Sam has gone blind and suffered illness. "There's something quite noble about Sam. Even though he's unattractive, he expects to be treated like royalty."

A year after Lockheed took in the dog without a home, she suffered a relapse of thyroid cancer, with which she was first diagnosed as a teenager.

After drinking a radioactive iodine treatment, Lockheed had to stay at home for five days, and her entire room had to be covered in plastic — even the telephone. Friends had to leave food by her door because of the radiation. But she wasn't alone; Lockheed was able to keep one dog with her, and she picked Sam.

The two enjoyed lounging and watching television. Sam never left her except to visit the side yard through his doggy door. The two have been inseparable ever since. Now Sam cries when Lockheed isn't around.

"He made a grave situation really fun. I think dogs are a gift from God. They don't care if you're having a bad hair day," Lockheed said.

But as the only male dog in the household, Sam was sometimes treated as an outcast by the other dogs, who were jealous of the attention Lockheed lavished on him. He was even blocked from the couch by the females.

Then in 2002, Lockheed saw a Jay Leno show featuring the world's ugliest dog from the Sonoma-Marin Fair, which has held the contest since 1989. She knew Sam would be a natural.

To prepare, she skipped Sam's usual treatment with mild lactic acid lotion, which clears off dead skin cells, for a few days and let his nails grow out.

"You don't practice, and you certainly don't groom," Lockheed said. "It's the opposite of preparing for Westminster," the big New York dog show.

Sam won, and has taken the fair's title every year since, including last month. Lockheed plans to enter Sam in a similar contest in March in Del Mar.

Some of her closest friends remain perplexed about the love affair: the world's ugliest dog hanging out with the daughter of a New York beauty queen. Lockheed, who performs facials, waxing and lash tints in her home salon, is perky. Sam is grouchy.

Her good friend Rebecca Player, 53, refuses to touch Sam's dangling, loose flesh.

"He's just too disgusting," Player said, adding that Lockheed once brought Sam into her workplace and everyone gasped. No one wanted to pet him.

"She's beautiful, carrying this dreadful-looking animal," Player lamented. "You really do see people grimace when he walks by. Poor guy."

Sometimes having an ugly dog has its pitfalls. Player said Lockheed was trying to console a guy she was dating by telling him, "You're a very attractive man." He responded, "Why should I listen to you? You tell Sam he's beautiful."

Lockheed spends $1,000 a year on her dogs, buying them bottled water, always keeping the heat at 70 degrees or above, fixing home-cooked meals for them, and letting them sleep with her under the sheets and her goose down blanket.

Lockheed closely watches Sam, who must take a number of pills each day to combat heart problems and kidney disease. To coax him to eat his medicine, Lockheed slips it into lean buffalo meat, tasty cheese balls, French toast or flan.

But that treatment is not extended when Lockheed spends the night at her fiance's ranch, which she does every weekend. Mark Tautrim, who never allowed his dogs indoors before, bans the hairless pack to the back bedroom.

But at some point during the night, Sam will invariably demand Lockheed's attention, letting out a shrill cry — "straight out of a horror movie," Tautrim said. Lockheed races to Sam's rescue and spends the rest of the night with her dogs.

"We say our goodnights and [then] I ban her to the back bedroom," Tautrim said.

Unfortunately, luck in love hasn't extended to Sam. He's still chasing after the yellow Lab next door, Mahia, after an on-and-off, three-year relationship.

"It's cute," said Mary Judge, Mahia's owner. However, Judge said there would be "no babies" with her dog and Sam.

Sam's health is so frail these days that Lockheed never leaves his side and refuses to take trips abroad. She turned down an invitation to her niece's wedding in Capri this October because she thought Sam wouldn't survive the flight to Italy.

"I think it's amazing how she can care for such a hideous dog," said Lockheed's childhood friend Susie Weller, adding that the dogs "are kind of like her children."

Weller recalled how Lockheed would squeeze out Sam's blackheads, and how every time, Sam would growl.

Lockheed said her customers have all grown accustomed to Sam's presence, some even requesting that Sam sleep on their laps. At Christmastime, Sam receives more presents from clients than she does.

A former actress who once tried to launch her career in Los Angeles, Lockheed says she is now a proud canine stage mom. She regularly blogs on her website, Sam … "World's Ugliest Dog," which has drawn more than 2 million hits since its creation in July. The site sells Sam magnets and T-shirts. Reporters have called from as far away as Japan and Holland to hear his famous growl.

Lockheed brags that Sam has received far more fame than she ever had while starring in community musicals. She sees him paraphrasing the resonating line of Norma Desmond, the fading silent-screen actress in the movie "Sunset Boulevard," whose beauty and youth have long disappeared.

But Sam really might be ready for his close-up. The more he ages, the uglier he becomes and the more successful he becomes. Lockheed hopes she can extend his success to Hollywood. She plans to hire an agent for Sam to help him appear in films and commercials.

But she's up against time.

"I worry about [Sam's health] terribly," Lockheed said, adding that she would be surprised if Sam was alive for the next ugly dog contest.

"I just feel he's like on borrowed time, and every day is just a blessing. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, not just for luck, but because I love him so much."


The ugly facts

Susie Lockheed met her fiance, Mark Tautrim, in February 2004 after he saw a photograph of Lockheed and Sam posted on and e-mailed her, asking "What is that?"

• Sam's name is derived from the biblical story of Samson and Delilah. "Samson's strength is in his hair," Lockheed said. "We know how much strength Sam has in his hair," she joked. Sam is a Chinese crested hairless.

• Lockheed graduated from UC San Diego with a degree in theater. She went on to star in a number of community theater musicals including "The Wizard of Oz" and "Singin' in the Rain."

• Sam's website is:

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I go back to China every years or so just so I can eat dog.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Man, I love days like this. Not only did I stumble across a link with the above title, but the web page actually delivers. I'm probably the last person to see it, but that's fine.

The talented creator of the page has a FAQ -- why would someone want to destroy the Earth, anyway, right? I mean, I understand, but that's me. It was nice to read all the reasons so clearly laid out -- it was like someone understood me, finally. My favorite reasons are below. They're my favorite because they're funny, not necessarily because the reasons are my own. Reason #7 might be mine, but I can't confirm that due to a complicated legal rationale.

1. Because it is there -- A response first given by - correct me if I'm wrong - Edmund Hillary after being relentlessly questioned as to why he desired to become the first man to climb to the highest point on Earth, the peak of Mount Everest. It did for him and it can do for you. Who needs a reason? The doing of the thing is its own reward.
2. To further science -- You'll be employing the scientific principles of [whatever method you use] on a greater scale than ever before. You'll have recording devices observing the event from all angles and on all wavelengths. The telemetry taken from the destruction of the Earth will reveal more about the universe, and science, and the Earth itself than anybody can possibly imagine! Isn't that worth it?
3. Special effects no longer satisfy me -- One can't argue with the fact that the total annihilation of an object of the Earth's size is going to be pretty spectacular however it happens. If you are the kind of person who likes explosions and implosions and other destructive events, then this is going to be the biggest you're likely to experience in a lifetime.
7. To make a point -- Anything along the lines of "They laughed at me at the Academy, I'll show them, I'll show them all!!" would fall under this category, though it could also be pegged as a psychological reason, below.

Regretably, the author would prefer if people like me who were inclined to copy his page and past it onto their own would not do so, and I will respect his wishes. Read the preamble below, and then click to learn how to do some Earth-destroyin' of your own.


Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe.

You've seen the action movies where the bad guy threatens to destroy the Earth. You've heard people on the news claiming that the next nuclear war or cutting down rainforests or persisting in releasing hideous quantities of pollution into the atmosphere threatens to end the world.


The Earth was built to last. It is a 4,550,000,000-year-old, 5,973,600,000,000,000,000,000-tonne ball of iron. It has taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners, and lo, it still orbits merrily. So my first piece of advice to you, dear would-be Earth-destroyer, is: do NOT think this will be easy.

This is not a guide for wusses whose aim is merely to wipe out humanity. I (Sam Hughes) can in no way guarantee the complete extinction of the human race via any of these methods, real or imaginary. Humanity is wily and resourceful, and many of the methods outlined below will take many years to even become available, let alone implement, by which time mankind may well have spread to other planets; indeed, other star systems. If total human genocide is your ultimate goal, you are reading the wrong document. There are far more efficient ways of doing this, many which are available and feasible RIGHT NOW. Nor is this a guide for those wanting to annihilate everything from single-celled life upwards, render Earth uninhabitable or simply conquer it. These are trivial goals in comparison.

This is a guide for those who do not want the Earth to be there anymore.
I've had days like this.


A bank has apologised to a customer after sending him a debit card bearing the name "Dick Head".

NatWest said it had launched an inquiry after Chris Lancaster, 18, of Tiptree, Essex, received a cash card with the wording: "Mr C Lancaster Dick Head".

Mr Lancaster said he did not spot the insult until he was handing over the card in a supermarket to pay for something a few days after it arrived in the post.

"I couldn't believe it," he said.

"When I got the card out I saw the name embossed on it. I was so embarrassed I put it back in my wallet.

"I know I've been overdrawn a few times but I've done nothing to deserve this.

"The bank said it must have been a worker with a grudge."

A NatWest spokesman said: "We have apologised unreservedly to Mr Lancaster.

"This is completely unacceptable and we have launched an investigation."
Lawsuit claims Chevron paid for deadly raids on 2 Nigerian villages

By Elise Ackerman, Knight Ridder NewspapersTue Aug 2, 3:42 PM ET

SAN FRANCISCO - The bodies of the dead Nigerian villagers hadn't yet grown cold when a navy captain presented Chevron with a bill: 15,000 naira, or $165, for responding to "attacks from Opia village against security agents."

Within 24 hours Chevron paid up, but it would be years before the California-based company would acknowledge the role it played in the destruction of Opia and another small village called Ikenyan in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger River Delta.

The receipt for the Jan. 4, 1999, military raid, which left four villagers dead and nearly 70 missing and presumed dead, came to light this summer as part of a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of the victims in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

Chevron has denied any responsibility for the deaths or injuries that occurred that day. Charles Stewart, a Chevron spokesman, said its payment to the captain reflected "a longstanding industry practice of paying a small amount for each day" to military personnel who protected "the people and the property of the oil companies located in the Niger Delta."

The appearance of the receipt came at a ticklish moment for Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, based in San Ramon, Calif. Chevron has offered $17 billion to buy Unocal, an oil-and-gas exploration company, and had used China's human rights record as one of its arguments against a competing bid by CNOOC, China's third-largest oil producer.

CNOOC withdrew its bid for Unocal Tuesday, citing political opposition in the United States. "This political environment has made it very difficult for us to accurately assess our chance of success, creating a level of uncertainty that presents an unacceptable risk to our ability to secure this transaction," CNOOC said in a statement. Unocal shareholders are scheduled to vote on Chevron's bid on Aug. 10.

Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of several law firms representing the plaintiffs in the San Francisco case, said Chevron's own human rights record is worthy of examination, in light of complaints about China's record.

"If that's their argument, it's important to look at Chevron's own record in that regard," she said.

Chevron argues that the violence at Opia and Ikenyan was due to tribal rivalries. "It's important to look at the allegations of this lawsuit against the backdrop of violence and communal unrest in Nigeria," Stewart said.

But company documents that have surfaced in the litigation describe how the attacks took place a day after Opia youths had visited a nearby Chevron drilling rig and demanded compensation.

Such demands have been common since the mid-1990s, as tribal communities around the delta have sought a greater share of oil wealth and compensation for spoiled fishing areas and blighted farm land.

When oil exploration began in the 1950s, residents hoped for an economic bonanza. But the anticipated boom never materialized. Half a century later, the 20 million residents who live in the Niger River Delta continue to eke out a bleak existence while the oil fields surrounding their communities rank among the top producers of high-grade petroleum in the world.

By the late 1990s, local demands were being met with violence. In 1995 the military government executed Ken Saro-Wiwa, a prominent playwright and activist with the Ogoni tribe, along with eight sympathizers, and in May 1998, Nigerian forces attacked about 100 members of the Ilaje tribe who were occupying an offshore oil platform belonging to Chevron's Nigerian subsidiary, killing two protesters.

Later that year, Ijaw youth began holding oil company employees hostage.

In December, Ijaw activists issued "The Kaiama Declaration," which called on all oil companies to stop "exploration and exploitation" activities in Ijaw areas by Dec. 30.

"We are tired of gas flaring; oil spillages, blowouts and being labeled saboteurs and terrorists," the declaration stated. "It is a case of preparing the noose for our own hanging."

Chevron began evacuating staff from Ijaw areas and preparing for mayhem.

In late 1998, activists from Opia, a community of thatched huts along Robin Creek, decided to press their grievances with a local Chevron representative.

Months earlier, they had submitted a list of items, including fishing nets, traps, hooks and other materials, that had been destroyed by Chevron's tug boats and floating barges.

Attorneys representing surviving villagers say their clients, who live without running water, electricity and newspapers, set out to seize a drilling rig Jan. 3.

They found the rig deserted, except for guards who told them to leave. "They rushed at them and they started beating them, you know, and they fell into the river," Anthony Lawuru, the chairman of the community, testified during a deposition in April 2005.

Back at the village, there was an urgent meeting.

"We'd been having a cordial relationship, even with the security men," Lawuru said. A delegation that included women and elders decided to return with the youths to the rig the next day in order to demonstrate that the youths had community support.

The next day, the guards greeted the delegation with gunfire.

Shaken, the villagers returned to Opia. Not more than 15 minutes had passed before a blue-and-white helicopter dropped out of the sky. As it hovered above the center of the village, just below the level of the coconut trees, the helicopter door opened and gunfire sprayed out, according to Lawuru's deposition.

"We were running into the bush; we heard the gun as it was going round," Lawuru said.

He estimated the fusillade continued 15 to 20 minutes. When villagers emerged from the bush nearly all the houses in the village were burning. Canoes, fishing materials, boats had been shot up and burned. Lawuru's brother lay dead.

There was panic as villagers rushed to pack their canoes and flee. In the confusion, Lawuru recalled, four boats known as "sea trucks" arrived, full of men in army uniforms. "They did not land before they started shooting," Lawuru said. "Then we started running again. Another round of running."

The soldiers then moved downstream to Ikenyan. There, the scene was replayed.

In a declaration submitted in federal court in San Francisco, John Ikenyan, the son of the village chief, said a helicopter first appeared over the houses. "I thought maybe that Chevron was coming to see my father again as they had before," Ikenyan said. Women and children waved.

A shot was fired from the helicopter and then another. Villagers fled to the bush.

When the villagers returned, they found their homes on fire. With no fire engine, no hoses and no pumps, they were unable to squelch the flames.

The sea trucks arrived. Once again, the villagers ran for the bush. Ikenyan said his father, the chief, stayed behind and was shot by the riverside.

"I later learned that many people had been killed or disappeared or were wounded at both Opia and Ikenyan on January 4," Ikenyan said.

According to Human Rights Watch, a total of four bodies were recovered from the two villages. Sixty-eight people were missing and believed dead.

Barbara Enloe Hadsell, an attorney for the villagers, said that in addition to paying the security forces, Chevron loaned them the helicopter that was used in the attack.

She said Chevron personnel not only accompanied the soldiers as they flew to Robin Creek but also directed the pilot to "deviate from his course" to pursue villagers who were "getting away."

Stewart, the Chevron spokesman, said Chevron's Nigerian subsidiary helped transport the military reinforcements to the rig after gunfire was heard on the radio. He also acknowledged that a Nigerian military officer aboard one of the helicopters "discharged a gun during flight."

But Stewart said Chevron hadn't authorized the weapons to be fired and said the shooting occurred when no village was in sight.

"We are confident as the case progresses, Chevron will be vindicated," he said.

A jury trial on the villagers' claim is currently scheduled for the fall of 2006 in federal court in San Francisco.

Monday, August 08, 2005

My dream has always been to direct a music video in the classic style of the form's early days, with a speedboat or a man in white singing on a beach. Now I knowm that when the times comes for me to live my dream, I will make a cover version of this.

Former SPICE GIRL VICTORIA BECKHAM and her husband DAVID have celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary by getting matching Hebrew tattoos. The golden couple honoured David's family's Jewish beliefs, by getting the phrase "I am my beloved, my beloved is mine" from the Hebrew bible's Song of Songs inked on their skin, reports British newspaper The Sun.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Funny because it's true... Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 06, 2005

I wanted to make some rice today in my steamer. The last time I made rice was a couple weeks ago, when I made some vinegarized rice and promptly forgot about it in the fridge. The rice had actually eaten through the bottom of the pot. I was bummed at the ruin of my rice steamer, but still, I'm pleased by the science lesson I received.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


After watching Bob Novak throw a tantrum on CNN, I stuck around for some inane banter as two cut-outs ignored the pink elephant that just stormed off the set. My time was not wasted, as one of them named my next book. He referred to "The Bowels of Power." Referring to Florida, to Kathleen Harris running for office in Florida. The Bowels of Power. I like it.

Virginia Millionaire Buys Himself a Ghost Town

By Doug Struck, Washington Post Foreign Service Sat Jul 30, 1:00 AM ET

KITSAULT, B.C. -- The Millionaire Who Bought a Town likes to save a buck. He breakfasts at McDonald's, flies economy class and asks for a doggie bag when he doesn't finish his meal at cheap motel restaurants.

But when, several months ago, the Virginia-based businessman saw a news story about a whole town being for sale in remote western Canada, he called the same day to offer a check for $5.7 million -- sight unseen.

Today, Krishnan Suthanthiran owns Kitsault, a ghost town abandoned by miners' families more than 22 years ago and preserved like a museum display of suburbia -- though one through which bears occasionally wander.

Suthanthiran, who was born in India and made his fortune selling medical devices and real estate in the Washington area, said he jumped at the chance to buy Kitsault because, "one, it is beautiful up there, and two, I couldn't believe it wasn't being used. I said if nobody else could figure out what to do with a town, I can."

His ideas for transforming the empty community, located in a majestic natural setting, tumble forth:

Kitsault will become an eco-tourist destination or an artist's colony. He will hold conferences, gathering scientists for forums and evening salmon-roasts on the beach. Wedding receptions. A corporate retreat. A movie set. Skiing, hiking, a spa, bans on smoking and cars, maybe a high-speed hydrofoil to bring tourists 85 miles from Prince Rupert.

"I feel like a kid in a candy shop," he said.

Suthanthiran has avoided publicity in the past, content with his work and a growing list of philanthropy projects in India, Canada and the United States. Many involve small scholarships, the kind of boost that enabled him to leave home for college at 15 with only a collection of donations from neighbors in his pocket.

"I do believe in education," he said. "If you're going to eliminate poverty, you need to eliminate ignorance."

At 56, after quietly building his businesses for 28 years, Suthanthiran has plunged into a flurry of financial acquisitions. In the last year, he has moved to buy half a dozen companies. Most are medical concerns that complement his own, Best Medical International. But the purchases also include a Vancouver video production company and now -- the splashiest buy -- a ghost town.

"I guess Kitsault will bring me more into the open," Suthanthiran said with little enthusiasm during an interview on the long, bumpy gravel road stretching 140 miles from Terrace, a town in western British Columbia, to the old mining community.

Kitsault, 500 miles northwest of Vancouver, was to be a model mining town. Instead, it became a monument to corporate misjudgment. In the late 1970s, Amax of Canada Limited chose to reopen a local mine, dormant since 1972, that produced molybdenum, a metal used to harden steel.

The setting is stunning: Green-cloaked mountains crested with streaks of snow plunge toward lakes and river gorges. A tidal estuary by the town teems with shrimp and salmon. Curious harbor seals poke up their heads from the water beneath the swiftly moving shadows of bald eagles.

Amax created a modern, planned community to house 1,200 miners and their families. The company built seven apartment buildings and 92 suburban homes with aluminum siding and green lawns. The town boasted a recreation center with a gleaming hardwood-floor gym and a swimming pool, health clinic, community center, library and day-care facility.

"It was an ideal place for a family," said Larry Payjack, who opened a sporting goods store in the town's small mall. There was no crime; residents formed a bear watch to collect the kids when a bear wandered through.

But just as the families were getting settled, the price of molybdenum plunged, from a $15-a-ton high to $3. An oversupply of the ore from competing mines and the recession of the 1980s killed off the "moly" market.

The company stockpiled the ore in one-ton bags on the beach for a while, recalled Art Hill, an electrician. Then, in November 1982, it ordered the operation closed, and within months, the town was abandoned. Most of the mining families, accustomed to a boom-and-bust lifestyle, moved to places where dreams still hid in seams of coal, asbestos or gold.

Kitsault was left empty and eerie. The glasses are still stacked for the next pint at the Maple Leaf Pub. The sign-in sheet at the day-care center shows a dwindling roster of 3-year-olds. Amber LaForge was the last to attend -- alone -- on June 27, 1983. The pool was left filled. Residents left the doors unlocked.

Amax and the successive owner, the giant mining company Phelps Dodge, kept a caretaker there who mowed the lawns and kept the heat on in the winter, keeping the town surprisingly intact.

"It's nice and peaceful here in the winter," said Jim Essay, 65, who lived with his wife, Maggie, as a Kitsault caretaker for the last two years. "Maggie did a lot of cross-stitching. We played cards a lot."

There were occasional attempts to sell the property, but no takers until the price dropped and Suthanthiran noticed the ghost town for sale.

He had a history with Canada. He had come to Carleton University in Ottawa in 1969 at age 20 on a postgraduate scholarship after leaving India, where a friend's father had taken up a collection to rescue the smart young man from his family grocery store and send him to college.

Suthanthiran got a master's degree in engineering and then went to Washington to make medical devices with an oncologist. He started his own company in 1977, specializing in sophisticated radiation treatment catheters used to fight cancer, the disease that had claimed his father in India. The company now employs a staff of 130 in Virginia and 100 in Europe.

Its owner is not a flashy millionaire. No gold Rolex -- he wears a plastic sports watch and white socks. He says he hasn't been shopping in three years. He does not own a car. He spends more than half his time on the road, so when he flies back to Virginia, he rents a car to drive to the house he bought 22 years ago in quiet Mason Neck.

The only extravagance he admits to is a two-bedroom apartment in Las Vegas. He doesn't gamble, he says, but likes the shows and marvels at the operation of the giant hotels.

Suthanthiran has neither a wife nor children; the closest he came, he said, was when he was 28 and received a surprise call from a family who said they had arranged with his mother in India for him to marry their daughter. He balked, and since then, he said, "I've been busy." He works seven days a week, his ear joined to a telephone. He hasn't borrowed money in 20 years, he said.

But something about Kitsault has brought out the dreamer in him.

"Just look at this place," Suthanthiran gushed as he wandered around the empty buildings of his town. "Look at these paved roads. Look at the gym -- how many schools would love to have a gym like this? Look at this scenery. I've got a mailing list of thousands of doctors who would love to come up here to get away for a week."

The frozen-in-time look of the town is deceptive, though. Ants are chewing away at the wood foundations; mold has crept into the eaves. The electrical wiring is brittle, and the sewage system, which runs straight into the estuary, probably will not pass today's standards.

"I don't think he really knows what he's gotten into," mused Edmond Wright, secretary-treasurer of the Nisga'a Lisims native government, which represents the aboriginal villages that are Kitsault's closest neighbors. "We're really out in the boondocks here."

Besides, native officials told Suthanthiran at a recent meeting to discuss his plans, the 6,200 Nisga'a have treaty rights and a well-vetted development blueprint for the area. Over a hospitable lunch of wild salmon, the Nisga'a officials politely scolded Suthanthiran for rushing ahead without consulting them.

"You've got too much money," Wright chided him.

Suthanthiran is undeterred by skeptics.

"If I wasn't an optimist, I'd still be in my home town in India running a grocery, with 10 kids," he said. "Land development is not for the fainthearted."

His plans do not include capitalizing on Kitsault's ghost-town history, however.

"We're going to focus on the future," he said. "People are going to say, 'Wow.' And they will forget about the past. The ghosts will be exorcised."

I don't take any glee on the tragic circumstances of this poor woman's death. But the player I feel for the most is that bartender. Man, hearing murder confessions just shouldn't be part of anyone's job. It's one thing to put up with drunk strangers confessing inadviseable crushes, or drunken lectures about national politics. But for a guy to just let you know about the brutal homicide he just executed on his wife, it'd just be depressing.

Man Gets Death for Killing Wife After Sex
By Associated Press
August 4, 2005, 11:41 AM EDT

PANAMA CITY, Fla. -- A man who got angry with his wife because she wanted to cuddle after sex when what he really wanted to do was watch sports on television was sentenced to death for killing her with a claw hammer.

Christopher Offord, 30, was sentenced Wednesday by Circuit Judge Dedee Costello, who said the brutality of the crime outweighed any mental problems Offord may have had.

"The defendant struck his wife approximately 70 individual blows after spending a happy interlude with her," the judge said. "Her desire to cuddle after sex does not justify the extremely violent, brutal response of the defendant."

Offord pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the 2004 slaying of Dana Noser, 40, at his apartment.

He confessed to a bartender at a sports bar before his arrest. He told investigators that his wife had been nagging him to come back to bed.

Offord did not speak in court but said in a jailhouse interview in June: "I figured I killed her so I deserve to die."

Seriously, I really think there was an episode where Homer did this. The guy is bald, just like Homer Simpson.

And what's up with a new story calling them "cops?" I suppose it's more colorful, but it seems like a proper term like "police" would be more appropriate for a mainstream news report.

Cops: Man Fabricated Hitchhiker's Death To Make Wife Leave

POSTED: 3:38 pm EDT August 2, 2005
UPDATED: 12:30 pm EDT August 3, 2005

A 28-year-old man in Marion County, Fla., was arrested Tuesday for making up a story that he killed a hitchhiker and dumped his body in the forest in an effort to persuade his wife to leave him, according to police.

Teddy Akin was interviewed by police and admitted the report was false and that he found the wallet at a newspaper box at Nuby's Corner located near Highway 314. He told investigators that he was having problems with his wife and hoped that this story would make her leave him, the report said.

Investigators said Teddy Akin told his wife he killed a man and then dumped the body off east Highway 40.

Akin also told detectives at the Ocala police department that he left the body by the interstate and turned in a wallet belonging to Dennis Allen of Utah.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office began a land and air search of areas around Highway 40 but did not locate a body.

Akin was interviewed again by police and admitted the report was false and that he found the wallet at a newspaper box at Nuby's Corner located near Highway 314.

He told investigators that he was having problems with his wife and hoped that this story would make her leave him, the report said.

Detectives contacted Dennis Allen in Utah who confirmed that he had lost his wallet while visiting Ocala and that he did not know Akin or take a ride with him.

Akin was arrested for filing a false report and theft.

The sheriff's office also said they would probably bill Akin for the cost of their seven-hour search, Capt. Thomas Bibb said.

"This was something that cost us a lot of time and energy," Bibb said.


This linked from the story about the guy who made up the bullshit about being a serial killer. It's a little "Girls Gone Wild" for a news station to be sponsoring, right? I ahve to say, I found it all interesting, and so I've decided to compose what I'm too lazy to even bother to laughibly refer to as an investigative report.

Who is the hottest hottie in Central Fllorida?

Several local women are competing for the crown of "Hottest Hottie" and a trip to the MTV Music Awards with Club Paris owners Paris Hilton and Fred Khalilian.

Each Saturday during the broadcast of "Big Brother" on WKMG-TV, Local 6 will eliminate one woman who received the lowest number of votes from online voting and live voting at Club Paris.

The winner will be announced live on Sept. 3 from Club Paris.

Click on the Local 6 slideshow to meet the women and then, click here to vote for your favorite contestant. Voting will also be held a Club Paris on Thursday nights.

The winner will also receive a makeover, a shopping spree and will be named the Club Paris nationwide representative for one year.

Name: Jessica Bain
Age: 18
Home: Lakeland
Measurements: 34-28-32
Favorite Food: Cheesecake
Favorite type of music: Country and Hip-Hop
Favorite movie: "Billy Madison"
Favorite saying: "If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen."
Career Goal: Real estate agent or Broadcaster.

Name: Christina Harrison
Age: 21
Home: Melbourne
Measurements: 34-25-32
Favorite Food: Ice Cream
Favorite type of music: Pop & Techno
Favorite movie: Wedding Crashers
Favorite saying: "What doesn’t break you, only makes you stronger"
Career Goal: Spokesperson for a local company.

Name: Jessyca Jones
Age: 18
Home: Orlando
Measurements: 36-28-32
Favorite Food: Ice Cream
Favorite type of music: Reggae
Favorite movie: "Billy Madison"
Favorite saying: "Life is short. Live it to the fullest."
Career Goal: Fashion Designer

Name: Heather Peters
Age: 19
Home: Orlando
Measurements: 34-28-32
Favorite Food: Spaghetti
Favorite type of music: Rap, R& B, Country
Favorite movie: "Billy Madison"
Favorite saying: "Live the life you love, and love the life you live."
Career Goal: Plastic surgeon or Dermatologist

Name: Amanda Zitzman
Age: 19
Home: Orlando
Measurements: 32-26-34
Favorite Food: Chicken Quesadilla from Taco Bell
Favorite type of music: Rap
Favorite movie: "Ace Ventura Pet Detective" – Jim Carrey is hilarious!
Favorite saying: "That’s hot!"
Career Goal: I'm a writer and fashion fanatic so I would love to own my own fashion magazine.

Surprisingly, it was not a hard choice. Jessica Bain was the first candidate, and I was immediately taken by her tomboyish attitude and smoker voice. I was intimidated and intrigued. She's really lucky she won me over with the video/,because her answers left me cold. Her best answer was that her favorite music is country and hip hop, which is pretty sad.

Her tape was really the only one I cared for, actually. I'm not just saying that to avoid posting links to the other five tapes. I had hoped to like Heather Peters, because of her desire to be a plastic surgeon or a dermatologist. Likewise, Amanda Zitman had a head start thanks to her literary aspiration, and a phot which suggested interesting, perhaps ethnic, facial characteristics. No luck, they were both doofs. I kind of see this as a low-level political race, in the same spirit as a college stdent government race, perhaps, but with more influence and charm. I was disapppointed there weren't better candidates. And to be really honest, I'm a little wigged out by how similar Christina Harrison and Jessyca James look.

I was going to go back and re-read some of their answers, and make some biting remarks on the state of celebrity culture, the over-commodification of self, and the weird, and probably unearned, sense of class contempt that I wonder if I'm feeling when I read stories about people like this. But it was too depressing to go back. Society's loss.

Currently, Jessica Bain is in fifth place, with 8 percent of the vote.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

This is my favorite mug shot I've ever seen. What a winning smile.  Posted by Picasa

Funny because it's true. Posted by Picasa