May 28, 2004
Singapore Begins Registering Gum Owners 
No, that's not a typo. You say you can't walk and chew gum at the same time? Well, if you live in Singapore, you now can:
From Australia's Herald Sun: Singapore to register gum owners
By Gillian Wong in Singapore

ULTRA-tidy Singapore is lifting its famous ban on chewing gum after 12 years - but only for registered users.

Gum dealers face jail if they break the rules.
Before Singaporeans think about unwrapping a pack of the Wrigley's Orbit gum that's just started selling in Singapore - and only in pharmacies - they have to submit their names and ID card numbers.

If they don't, pharmacists who sell them gum could be jailed up to two years and fined S$5,000 ($A4,222).

The South-East Asian city state, known for its immaculate streets and tight social controls, outlawed the manufacture, import and sale of chewing gum in 1992 after the country's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, complained it was fouling streets, buildings, buses and subway trains.
[via Bryan Bird's blog]

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

Now That's a TV Show: 'Money Grab' 
Okay, fellow TV folks (and ex-TV folks).

One of Chicago's better-known bloggers is a fellow who goes by the name of Sour Bob. Now, Sour Bob knows what time it is when it comes to TV ratings - here's his idea for a reality show called "Money Grab," which I wouldn't be surprised if I see someday in the near future on FOX:
See, what I figure is, if people will do anything on television just for money, and if there's basic entertainment value in watching them scramble for it, the one variable that matters is where and how you drop the money. So fuck it... drop the money in a dung heap. Or a medical waste dump. Or on a twelve-lane freeway at rush hour. Or give it to a bunch of horny strip club patrons and let them dance for it, a dollar at a time.

Dropping a bunch of money for some shameless assholes to grab for is fine, but you may as well see how far these pukes are willing to go. So drop it somewhere disgusting or dangerous. Now that would be a fucking teevee show.

Think of it: sixteen lucky contestants are chosen from an available pool of applicants who sent in tapes, selected chiefly for their insistent claims that they'll do anything for money. We meet them, one at a time, in short video segments from their own self-made tapes. Then, they're brought to the studio to meet each other and learn the rules. They are assured over and over that yes, one million dollars will be in play, and yes, they can grab and keep as much as they are able. However, we remind them, they did say they'd do anything for money. That's still true, right? It is? Then game on, kids.

Next, they're blindfolded and escorted to that week's playing field, a location which they know nothing about. Our cheerful little money grubbers are then arranged around the perimeter of the drop zone and unmasked, just as the first quarter million bucks is dropped onto... oh, I don't know... the rejects pile at a meat packing plant. [read more...]
Open note to Bob: patent your idea now, before somebody else latches onto it ;)

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

May 24, 2004
Fog of War? 
  Spc. Sabrina Harman, also of the 372nd Military Police Company, gives a thumbs-up sign by the body of Iraqi detainee Manadel al-Jamadi. [Reuters/ABCNEWS]China's Xinhuanet News featured these photos of soldiers [released by other news agencies] posing with the body of an Iraqi prisoner who reportedly died while in custody at Abu Ghraib:
Spc. Sabrina Harman, also of the 372nd Military Police Company, gives a thumbs-up sign by the body of Iraqi detainee Manadel al-Jamadi. [Reuters/ABCNEWS]

According to testimony from Spc. Jason Kenner, obtained by ABCNEWS, the man was brought to the prison by U.S. Navy Seals in good health. Kenner said he saw extensive bruising on the detainee's body when he was brought out of the showers, dead. Kenner says the body was packed in ice during a "battle" between CIA and military interrogators over who should dispose of the body. The Justice Department opened an investigation into this death and four others today following a referral from the CIA. The photos were taken by Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick , who in e-mails to his family has asked why the people responsible for the prisoner's death were not being prosecuted in the same manner that he is.
There is just something very, very wrong with images like these, on so many levels. Committing these abuses is one matter...but, photographing them for posterity?

Unfortunately, seeing these cheerful, smiling members of the military posing with prisoners (dead or alive) reminds me of nothing more than those stories on News of the Weird's "Least Competent Criminals" feature, where burglars sometimes take instant photos of themselves at the scene of a crime as "souvenirs," only to have the photos used as evidence against them. What were they thinking - what were they thinking? [crossposted on farkleberries]

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

May 22, 2004
From Tom, To Lenka . . .  

After seeing your last post, I couldn't resist. Perhaps you can find solace (or perhaps inspiration?) in the words of this Tom Lehrer classic:

Poisoning Pigeons In The Park

Spring is here, a-suh-puh-ring is here.
Life is skittles and life is beer.
I think the loveliest time of the year is the spring.
I do, don't you? 'Course you do.
But there's one thing that makes spring complete for me,
And makes ev'ry Sunday a treat for me.

All the world seems in tune
On a spring afternoon,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.
Ev'ry Sunday you'll see
My sweetheart and me,
As we poison the pigeons in the park.

When they see us coming, the birdies all try an' hide,
But they still go for peanuts when coated with cyanide.
The sun's shining bright,
Ev'rything seems all right,
When we're poisoning pigeons in the park.


We've gained notoriety,
And caused much anxiety
In the Audubon Society
With our games.
They call it impiety,
And lack of propriety,
And quite a variety
Of unpleasant names.
But it's not against any religion
To want to dispose of a pigeon.

So if Sunday you're free,
Why don't you come with me,
And we'll poison the pigeons in the park.
And maybe we'll do
In a squirrel or two,
While we're poisoning pigeons in the park.

We'll murder them all amid laughter and merriment.
Except for the few we take home to experiment.
My pulse will be quickenin'
With each drop of strychnine
We feed to a pigeon.
It just takes a smidgin!
To poison a pigeon in the park.

posted by James  [link] | |

May 21, 2004
Giving Your Enemy the Bird 
Docments recently released to the British National Archives reveal that the U.K. had been developing a different kind of airborne weapon - suicide pigeons.
the War Office intelligence section, MI14, warned: "Pigeon research will not stand still; if we do not experiment, other powers will." [now there's a catchy slogan - Ed.] Among MI14's proposals was the training of pigeons carrying explosives to fly into enemy searchlights.

Meanwhile, pigeon enthusiast Wing Commander WDL Rayner suggested a "bacteriological warfare agent" could be combined with the explosive. "A thousand pigeons each with a two ounce explosive capsule, landed at intervals on a specific target, might be a seriously inconvenient surprise..."
I think I should have named my blog "A Seriously Inconvenient Surprise." But I didn't, so the name's up for grabs. Did I mention that a gang of pigeons has taken up residence on my apartment's rear 3rd floor porch? Now, you can't go out the back door for fear of being divebombed with birdshite, and there is a growing guano pile on the concrete where icicles normally grow - only birdshite doesn't melt...

You can see why I found this news story appealing. :)

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

May 19, 2004
Easter Passion, or Whipping the Bunny 
From News of the Weird:
Several parents walked out of a holiday program by the Glassport (Pa.) Assembly of God when the actors on stage began whipping the Easter bunny and breaking its eggs, which church officials said was an attempt to move past the benign symbols of the holiday and focus on the suffering of Christ. As children in the audience cried at the beatings, actors chanted, "There is no Easter bunny." [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette-AP, 4-7-04]
Let's hope they don't put on a Christmas play with Santa Claus.

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

May 18, 2004
Slow News Day, CNN? 
I'm a little curious why this story made the "Top U.S. News" on CNN.com at about noon Eastern time: "Student Drinks Lab Chemical On A Dare." Huh?
ODESSA, Texas (AP) -- A student who drank a chemical from his high school lab on a dare was recovering in a hospital, but not before a scare. The student drank the unidentified chemical on a bet at the school, said Nancy Smith, a UMC supervisor.

"We need to find out what it was from the toxicologist," Assistant Principal Ray Lascano said. "All of those materials belonged to one of the chemistry labs." The student was found last Wednesday in a school hallway, bleeding from the nose and mouth.
Perhaps it's news of a "new high in stupidity."

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

Slip-slidin' Away . . .  
I have to admit that I try to tip waiters,waitresses, chambermaids and the like as generously as I can, as I have determined that those of us who make the least amount of money work the hardest for it. (hopin' the link still works . . .)

posted by James  [link] | |

May 17, 2004
"Mr. Tarantino will be having the 'clue', Garçon," 
WBEX reports that Quentin Tarantino plans to make "the most violent film ever":
"Violence is fun, man. I would have no problem with the most violent, bloody movie, if that day ever came. There's still time.
And, according to Sci Fi Wire, the Q's next target may be...007?
"I've always wanted to do it," Tarantino reportedly said. "I bumped into Pierce Brosnan, and we talked about it. He liked the idea." Tarantino is a lifelong fan of the British spy saga, now starring the Irish actor Brosnan. "I would like to do the original book Casino Royale and do it more or less the way the Ian Fleming book is," Tarantino told Reuters in an interview in Cannes, where he is president of this year's film festival jury. Casino Royale was made in 1967 as an ill-fated spoof starring David Niven as an aging 007. "I don't know if they're going to go for it or not, but I'm letting them know I'm interested,"
Hell, why not combine the two? I've seen both Kill Bills and the rest of the QT oeuvre; I like his work. But I think portraying screen violence is sort of like using heroin - you have to keep upping your dosage to get the same effect. I just wonder how much further he'd have to go to to keep his promise.

Somehow, I think he's been scooped by the killers of Nick Berg: from now on, everything else is just ketchup.

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

May 15, 2004
Voting with a Conscience 

Should religious leaders be able to order you to vote for a particular presidential candidate? Should they be able to deny communion to any parishioners who defy their decree??

These are not hypothetical questions, this very thing is happening right here, in the good 'ole U-S of A! You can read about it - right here.

Bishop Sheridan - political activistIn a  pastoral letter issued by a Roman Catholic bishop in Colorado state, one Bishop Michael Sheridan, in Colorado Springs, orders that parishioners voting for officials supporting abortion rights be denied communion. The bishop also would deny communion for supporters of stem-cell research, gay marriage or euthanasia.

So, according to Bishop Sheridan - you can't vote for any presidential contender who happens to feel that a woman should be able to make up their own mind with regard to abortion... or who won't force-apart a couple who love differently from "the norm"... or for someone who refuses individuals the choice to say "Enough pain" when science can keep a body alive longer then perhaps it should be, or allow science the ability to perhaps help cure that person in that terrible, hopeless pain. 

It seems that the good Bishop would rather have us vote for someone who has extirpated an entire country, in a war that's been waged under dubious pretense, against world opinion, and has killed over 10,000 civilian souls, and hundreds of our own.

I agree with what the Bishop has to say in his letter, with regard to voting - we need to become informed about the issues, and we need to go to the poll, and vote for, who who we believe in our hearts will lead our country in the direction we'd like to see the country go in... But the Bishop is making the very same mistakes he warns his flock of... he's making his judgements on just a few of the issues that he feels are absolute paramount, and is, in effect saying - "think like I think - or you won't be a full member of my church, and you'll probably go to hell".

Am I missing the point here - is the Bishop partaking in a bit of spiritual coercion?

Personally - I'm a real fan of the seperation of Church and State... how about you?

posted by Jon C.  [link] | |

May 14, 2004
The Awful Death of Nick Berg: The Worst Kind of "Must-See TV" 
It's out there...on the Web, and it's not hard to find. I'm talking about the footage of Nick Berg being executed by Islamic militants - an event that marks the first time that easy access to high-speed Internet transmission of digitized video has allowed this type of content to transcend borders and spread across the globe like a virus in a matter of hours.
The decision to watch, or not to watch reminded me of Morpheus' proffering of the "blue pill" and the "red pill" to Neo in The Matrix - you make a choice, and your awareness of reality will change from that point onward. "What will it be? Blue? Or Red?" An awareness one gains with time is that sights can not be un-seen, sounds never un-heard; the luxury of casual forgetfulness doesn't apply when seeing the world's first globally-distributed snuff film. Clicking the link would be a pill I couldn't un-swallow.

I wouldn't call myself a sicko, and probably neither would most people seeking to watch the video. Although this is the worst kind of 'must-see TV,' human nature and curiosity compels us to watch it. Biblical scripture says doubting Thomas had to touch Christ's bleeding side to see if the spear wound was real. In the end, I decided to click.
more on farkleberries original flavor™.

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

May 12, 2004
Those Nutty "Negro"-s.... 
So, I'm surfing the Web, on a Target.com partner called Teamstore.com, looking for some interesting caps or jerseys. Out of curiosity, I click to "Negro League Collectibles." Apparently, Teamstore.com only has one, count them, one - Negro League product - the one you see below.

Yes, it's a Peanuts™ baseball pin collection. I'm a bit baffled how this got categorized as a "Negro League" item. Ironic - in a not-very-funny way - the caption: "Gang Baseball Collection 12 Piece Set"? Feel free to boo.

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

"Baby's In Black and I'm Feeling Blue..." 
From the Arizona Goth Scene - by golly, there is such a thing - now I've seen it all: Goth Maternity Wear.

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

"Want Ketchup With That?" University of Chicago's Real Wierdos 
The University of Chicago may be known for some spectacular academic achievements, like the first atomic reaction, armloads of Nobel Prizes and more gargoyles than any other American campus (well, at least it seems like there are). However, all this brainpower comes with a price: a few folks around here are pretty much certifiable. Brilliant - but nuts. Case in point? The legendary annual Scavenger Hunt:
Last Sunday, an awed crowd of students and cameramen from NBC5 [NOTE: Not Plattsburgh, NY's NBC5. Chicago's NBC5.] in Ida Noyes watched in anticipation as Phil Caruso, a first-year in the College and Rickert House resident, completed item #8 on the Scav Hunt list for the Max Palevsky team.

Caruso took out from a package his umbilical cord, which his mother had sent to him, stuffed it into a Twinkie, and without hesitation ate it.

"Nobody ever had to persuade him; it was all volunteer," said Alan Mardingly, a second-year in the College and Co-Captain of the Max Palevsky team (Phoenix, Bitch). "My hat is off to him." [Scav Hunt team] Phoenix, Bitch gained 96 points with Caruso's stunt.
I suppose it's telling that Caruso's mom actually saved his umbilical cord for the past two decades, and having done so, willingly sent it to him...to eat. I can picture the conversation:
Caruso: "Hi, mom. Remember that umbilical cord of mine you were saving?"
Mama Caruso (misty-eyed from recollection): "Of course, honey...I was in labor for 2 whole days with you, and I wanted to remember that moment for all eternity. It's even got that cute little clamp still on it."
Caruso: "Would you mind sending me the cord here at college?"
Mama Caruso: "Well...okay, honey. But why?"
Caruso: "I need to eat it for the annual Scavenger Hunt."
Mama Caruso: "Oh, all right...but it may be a little stale after these past 18 years. Might need some seasoning."
Whatta mom! Crescat Scientia, Vita Excolatur indeed. As SillyLibra would say..."and now, off to lunch."

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |

Thanks For the Memories 
Brevity is probably a virtue in this particular post. I'm not sure that any words I have to say can add to what is seen here. I can tell you that it will make you think.

posted by James  [link] | |

May 08, 2004
Fear and Loathing at 13 
I had a real eye-opener this morning while driving my daughters to school -- one of those defining moments that you know you will remember for the rest of your life.

My oldest daughter, a 13 year old, mentioned that she'd like to write some entries on her website about her disregard for some of our president's actions and decisions, and about what is happening in the Middle East, but that she probably wasn't going to, because it didn't seem like a good idea. When I ask her why, she said that "I'm afraid the FBI would come after me."

She didn't get that idea from me. This is a sensibility she has picked up from her surroundings. What a painful realization for me as a parent of young children . . . that this generation could very well be afraid to express itself, to criticize it's elected leaders without fear of governmental retribution? As all dads would do, I began to speak up so I could ease her fears, and offer her some words of reassurance, but I ended up saying nothing . . .

. . . because I'm not so sure she is wrong.

posted by James  [link] | |

May 03, 2004
2 New England Women Still Missing After Separate Car Crashes 
Maybe I've just watched too many X-Files episodes, but this news headline from WPTZ caught my attention - two women involved in separate car accidents are missing - they just disappeared after the crash. This article from April 9th says that
One of the women, 21-year-old "Maura Murray, had been a nursing student at the University of Massachusetts two months ago when she left campus and ran her car off the road near Woodsville. When a passerby went to call for help, she disappeared.

17-year-old [Brianna] Maitland...disappeared three weeks ago after leaving work at a Montgomery restaurant. The next morning police found her car backed into an abandoned building a mile away."
That is just plain weird. Anyone know any more about these disappearances from my old stomping grounds?

posted by Lenka Reznicek  [link] | |




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