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March 23, 2002

The benefits of blogging

Perhaps I'm just unobservant, but a few months ago, I had never read anything by Mark Steyn

So you can see why the President was 'plenty hot'. If it's too much to expect the INS not to issue visas to living terrorists, they could at least stop issuing them to dead terrorists, especially famous dead ones whose names and faces have been in all the papers. INS commissioner James Ziglar said there had been 'a breakdown in communication' and, under pressure to reassure Americans that federal employees cannot give visas to al-Qa'eda members with impunity, acted swiftly by moving four INS officers 'sideways'. For example, Janis Sposato has been transferred to the post of 'assistant deputy executive associate commissioner for immigration services'. I'm not sure what post Ms Sposato was transferred sideways from -- possibly that of associate executive deputy assistant commissioner. At any rate, this is a serious blow for Ms Sposato. It may well be that her dreams of rising to deputy executive associate assistant commissioner, and perhaps one day even assistant associate deputy executive commissioner, have gone up in smoke. I shouldn't be surprised if none of the other assistant deputy executive associates want to associate with her or the associate executive deputy assistants want to assist her.
There's more; Steyn skewers all of Washington for not realizing that there's a war going on.

September 18, 2003

Multiple choice

Who exactly deserves the most scorn in this situation?

  1. The 13 year old girl who performed oral sex on a classmate on the school bus.
  2. The two chaperones who didn't notice (!) anything was going on.
  3. The "friends" of this girl who pressured her into doing it.
  4. The mother of this girl, for not raising her child properly
  5. The mother of this girl, for having the chutzpah to make the argument in court that the school didn't tell her daughter in writing that oral sex on the school bus was unacceptable.
  6. The mother's attorney, for making that argument.
  7. Bill Clinton, because anything involving oral sex is ultimately his fault.
Take your time.

(via Kimberly Swigert)

SkiFirst!

When I was in grad school, I learned to ski at nearby Wachusett Mountain. I'm glad to hear that the ski area is successful and expanding, but obviously there are some who aren't:


Environmental activists who had camped 80 feet up a pair of red oaks for more than a month climbed down early Tuesday as workers began removing trees to make way for a ski area.

If I had a month to kill, sitting in a tree would be low on my list of things I'd want to do, while skiing would be near the top. So for me it's gratifying to hear that the EarthFirst loonies backed down. Although it would have been more gratifying to hear that workers had begun removing trees while the activists were still in them. But it's not a perfect world in which we live.

(Hat tip, as they say, to Juan Gato)

September 21, 2003

Non sequitur of the day

College students like to download music off the internet. Even though it's illegal. And they like to rationalize their behavior:

She, like others, does not see the harm done, and remains suspicious of the recording industry.

"How are you going to make downloading illegal when you can still smoke legally and give yourself lung cancer?" Ms. Morrissey asked. "There are a lot worse issues you could focus on."

Say wha?

September 25, 2003

Because the last Democratic secession movement was so successful...

Paul Lewis, a professor of English at Boston College, hates the U.S. and loves Canada, but he can't be bothered to move. No, he wants to stay put and have Canada come to us In Canada's Globe and Mail, he writes:


Can we Democrats be your next province?

No, but you Democrats are free to move to the province of your choice!

I wish I had more time to comment on the sheer stupidity of his article. Maybe later. For now, I will merely point out that if he really believes that Canada has, and the U.S. lacks, "good mass transit in major cities", then he's obviously never ever been to Vancouver.

Oh, and he calls New Hampshire "odious", presumably because Bush outpolled Gore by a shocking 48.07% to 46.80%. (Having no state sales or income taxes probably doesn't do much to improve the state's image in his mind, either...)

November 13, 2003

Sssh!

A story about a SmokingGunesqe website, The Memory Hole, contains this gem:

One of Mr. Kick's recent digs involved an internal report from June 2002 that harshly criticized the Justice Department's efforts toward diversity in employee hiring, promotion and retention. A version of the report was posted at the department's Web site last month with about half of the material in the 186-page study blacked out.

But Mr. Kick discovered that the deletions were easy to restore electronically. Opening the document in Adobe Acrobat, a reader and editor for Portable Document Format, or PDF, Mr. Kick used the software's "Touch Up Object" tool to select the black bars covering the text. He then hit the delete button. The black bars disappeared, leaving just the text.

"It was that simple," Mr. Kick said. "I was kind of surprised, but we are talking about a government bureaucracy, so I wasn't that surprised."

Your government at work, folks.

November 29, 2003

Clocking in

Earlier this year, Megan McCardle coined Jane's Law:

The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.
More evidence for the latter, courtesy of blogger Brian O'Connell, who discovered an entire Bush-bashing article at CounterPunch based solely on the CounterPunch columnist's inability to tell time.

Now, I'd be the last person to deny that the media sometimes gets stories very wrong. But if you weren't insane, wouldn't you pause before writing/ranting like this...

And the abysmal and sycophantic Washington and New York press corps seems to have completely missed the Thanksgiving "breakfast dinner."
...to consider that perhaps they "completely missed" the scoop you've come up with because you've gotten your own facts wrong? (To be "fair" to the Counterpunch crowd, Mr. Madsen and the others are so far left that they're perpetually out of power, so they're perpetually insane; it really has little to do with George Bush.)

December 29, 2003

But Thesauruses are still okay, right?

For various reasons, including computer problems which are no longer an issue, I've been behind in my blogging, but intending to jump back in any minute. As soon as I was inspired to do so.

And lo and behold, someone passes me this story, which sounds like it came from The Onion:

FBI Issues Alert Against Almanac Carriers

The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

In a bulletin sent Christmas Eve to about 18,000 police organizations, the FBI said terrorists may use almanacs "to assist with target selection and pre-operational planning."

It urged officers to watch during searches, traffic stops and other investigations for anyone carrying almanacs, especially if the books are annotated in suspicious ways.

Fortunately, the FBI is not (yet) calling for a zero tolerance policy:
The FBI noted that use of almanacs or maps may be innocent, "the product of legitimate recreational or commercial activities."
Whew. Glad they cleared that up. I was afraid they were going to start conducting sweeps through bookstores and school libraries, and sending those with suspicious reference books to Guantanamo.

And we pay these people to keep us safe? Have they ever looked at an almanac? The only way one could help a terrorist is if he was using it to study for Jeopardy! so he could win money for future terrorist operations.

Hmm. I wonder if the FBI recommends being suspicious of anybody carrying a computer -- after all, I hear that some computers can access some newfangled invention called the World Wide Web, and that facts can occasionally be found there.

January 9, 2004

Brazil Nut-zis

Seems that some people are unhappy with being fingerprinted at airports. That's understandable; not that the fingerprinting is a bad idea (it isn't), but airport security is enough of a chore as it is these days that the last thing people want is another hurdle to jump. Still, there's being unhappy, and there's being a bit of a loon:


In some countries, the fingerprinting requirement has tapped into deeply rooted resentments of the United States. A Brazilian judge was so furious that Brazilians would have to be fingerprinted and photographed that he took revenge.

"I consider the act absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis," the judge, Julier Sebastiao da Silva, said last week in a court order subjecting all Americans entering Brazil to the same practice.

Yes, we all remember from our history classes the stories of Nazis rounding up Jews and subjecting them to humiliating fingerprinting and photography chambers...

In any case, this judge's lack of historical persective isn't as troubling as the fact that after he condemnned an act as "absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis," he jumped at the chance to perform the very same act!!

January 30, 2004

Which hunt?

Remember, an investigation that doesn't result in findings of guilt is a "witchhunt":

Ms. Lewis played a central role in the Whitewater witch hunt (seven years, $70 million, no evidence of Clinton wrongdoing)
..but an investigation that doesn't result in findings of guilt is a "whitewash":
(Yes, the Hutton report gave Tony Blair a clean bill of health, but many people -- including a majority of the British public, according to polls -- regard that report as a whitewash.)

The fabulous mind of Paul Krugman, folks.


Also, remember, if one doesn't like a report's findings, one can ignore it:

True, Mr. Kay still claims that this was a pure intelligence failure. I don't buy it:
...but if one does, then it must be true:
a report from a the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has issued a damning report on how the threat from Iraq was hyped, and former officials warned of politicized intelligence during the war buildup.

Still Paul Krugman, folks.

February 4, 2004

Stars and space

This weekend, the New York Times used 1500 words on its Op/Ed page to tell us how little room there is on the Op/Ed page:

After all, we don't have a lot of space. On a day with two columnists and an advertisement, Op-Ed has room for about 1,200 words of type. That's it. (Speaking of those advertisements: we have nothing to do with them. They're sold, placed and scheduled by The Times' advertising department.) These unyielding boundaries mean that Op-Ed cannot harbor any aspirations about being encyclopedic. ("All the views that are fit to print?" Not a chance, alas.) For this reason, important subjects, issues and ideas will go uncovered. Op-Ed will inevitably be subjective and idiosyncratic.

These space considerations can be frustrating for editors and contributors alike. Roughly 1,200 unsolicited submissions come to our office every week via e-mail, fax and the United States Postal Service. Many of these submissions are first-rate and most get turned down simply because we don't have enough room to publish everything we like. How do we know they're good? Because all submissions are read; many are reviewed by the entire staff; some are hotly debated before a decision is made.

Okay. So if they get 1200 submissions every week, then that's about 170 every day. So how in the hell did someone there come to the conclusion that an Op/Ed on presidential horoscopes was one of the two best submissions of the day yesterday? I'm all for a newspaper not taking itself too seriously, but this is a paper that won't even print comics. And they have time for drivel like "Thus, Dr. Dean's character contains a paradox: he is both deep and shallow., "[Lieberman] is in a vital transitional phase.", "However, [Edwards'] chart shows him to be a true son of the messenger and trickster god, and so capable of exceptional dualism" and (my personal favorite) "[Sharpton] is fascinated by other cultures and desires global harmony, seeing the whole world as his home." ?!?!?!?!?!?!

February 20, 2004

Blaming the victim...'s foot?

The dangers of being contrarian, as illustrated by Gregg Easterbrook. Writing about the University of Colorado's football coach getting suspended in the wake of allegations that his former placekicker, Katie Hnida, was raped by a teammate, Easterbrook writes:

But, absurdly, these serious issues are not the ones that led to yesterday's suspension of the Colorado coach, Gary Barnett. He was suspended for saying that Hnida is a terrible player. Hnida is, in fact, a terrible player. In this respect, Barnett was only saying what everybody in college football has been politely avoiding.

[...]

But competing against men who are significantly larger and stronger, Hnida simply wasn't much of a player. It's ridiculous that stating this plain fact--not the alleged tolerance of sexual harassment--is what got the Colorado coach into trouble.

The "whoosh" you hear is the sound of Easterbrook missing the point. Of course she isn't a good player. But Barnett wasn't suspended for what he said about her talent. He was suspended for when he talked about her talent. What he actually said was:
It's a guy's sport. (Players) felt like Katie was forced on them. It was obvious Katie was not very good. She was awful. You know what guys do? They respect your ability. I mean, you could be 90 years old, but if you could go out and play, they would respect you. Well Katie was a girl, and not only was she a girl, she was terrible. OK? And there's no other way to say it,
If he wasn't insinuating that she got raped in part because she wasn't a very good player, then he's one of the most clueless public speakers I've ever heard of.

Oh, and of course there's also the allegation that he warned another rape victim that if she dared to file a police report against one of his players, he'd back the player 100%.

It was these statements, not an inaccurate scouting report, that got Barnett suspended; Easterbrook must have known that. But when you feel the need to say something different just for the sake of saying something different, you end up saying dumb things, sometimes. Easterbrook seems to fall into that trap all too frequently, now that he has a blog. (And thank you, no need to point out that I may be the pot calling the kettle black here. Unlike Easterbrook, I'm not a professional. I'm saying dumb things for fun, not profit.)

Constituent service

Speaking of clueless, I happened to run across this story (via Crosblog) from a couple of weeks ago about a right-wing congressman who has attempted to use his political influence to help one of his cronies get leniency after raping a teenage girl.

In what one Marin prosecutor called a situation that raises questions of propriety, U.S. Rep. Lynn Woolsey intervened on behalf of an acquaintance who raped a Marin teenager.

Woolsey, D-San Rafael, used her official congressional stationery to tell a sentencing judge the sex felon had a "promising life ahead of him."

Oh, wait, sorry -- Lynn Woosley isn't a right-wing congressman; she's actually a leftist Democratic congresswoman. Perhaps that explains why this story barely made the news anywhere. Can you imagine what the coverage would have been like if Trent Lott had done this?

And Woolsey's explanation of her actions? Dodging and weaving:

Pressed by the Independent Journal on why she sent the letter, Woolsey was initially defensive and seemed to draw a blank.

"Obviously, in my eyes he is not a criminal," she said of the son of her office employee. But then she appeared to change her mind. "I knew nothing about the incidents. I had no idea what the courts had found out."

Woolsey, who wrote her letter after Pearson pleaded guilty on Sept. 11, 2003, to raping the Marin teen, said she was advocating for Pearson's family, not for him.

"What I said in that letter was that when deciding his sentence, he has a good support system - that was not based on what he did or didn't do. His family support system would be paying very close attention to what happened to him."

So, her defense is that she decided to ask for leniency for a criminal without knowing what the criminal had done? I see.

Leaving aside the twisting and turning over the letter, what about her use of official taxpayer-purchased government stationery to do it? Does that seem a little... improper to anyone else? A private citizen certainly has the right to provide input before sentencing; indeed, as I understand it, character witnesses are a normal part of the sentencing process. But a member of Congress has no right to officially intervene.

This isn't a big deal (except to the victim); the only reason I'm blogging about it is because I was shocked to find out about it when it had gotten virtually no press coverage. As far as I can tell, neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post, nor the AP nor Reuters has picked up this story. Not even as a brief mention. Why not?

March 14, 2004

Danger: Precautionary Principle At Work

Water, water, everywhere...except Aliso Viejo, California.

April 24, 2004

Maybe they meant the seventh Commandment?

The New York Times editorializes against new naturalization tests for applicants for American citizenship. They're afraid, apparently, that the tests will be too difficult, which would be "unfair" to candidates. In a typical example of Timesian liberalism, the problem isn't with unqualified applicants, but with having standards and expecting people to live up with them:

While the bureau plans to design a new curriculum for the community-based organizations and agencies that help immigrants prepare for the test, the government will provide no money to make that process less onerous. That's unfortunate. There is already a tremendous shortage of English classes for foreign speakers, and the demand will certainly increase. Immigrants and their advocates are right to be concerned. A study published by the Urban Institute says that some 8 million people in the country are eligible to apply for citizenship now, 2.7 million in California alone. A chief reason they do not apply is difficulty with English.
In other words, it's not the responsibility of immigrants to learn what they need to in order to become citizens. It's not the responsibility of "their advocates" to teach them what they need in order to become citizens. It's the responsibility of "the government" -- meaning taxpayers, of course -- to make immigrants qualify for citizenship.

(Keep in mind, incidentally, that as a general rule, one has to have lived as a permanent resident in the US for at least five years before applying for citizenship. If someone can't be bothered to learn English in five years, who needs him?)


In a bizarre example of irony, the Times adds:

One typical question asks which amendment of the Constitution guarantees the right to vote. Many natural-born Americans would be stumped on that one (it's the Seventh), but more than 90 percent of the applicants pass the current exam.
For those of you who, like the New York Times editors, failed social studies, the seventh amendment says,
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.
Ain't nothin' about voting in there, as you can see. Can we revoke the citizenship of the Times' editors?

(Hat tip: TW)

August 29, 2004

Bitch, Go Home

100,000 people protesting the Republican National Convention today? Big deal. There were more people with me at Jones Beach. (Along with at least that many jellyfish. Yuck. They seemed to be tentacle-less non-stinging jellyfish, but still, yuck.)

Anyway, it's good to know that New Yorkers are showing the world the class, sophistication, and open-minded tolerance they pride themselves on:


Police arrested up to 60 protesters who assembled in Times Square at dusk chanting anti-Bush slogans after hundreds of thousands had marched in Manhattan to decry the president's policies before the Republican convention begins on Monday.

But individual protesters kept tensions high, some of them hissing or cursing at well-heeled couples heading to popular Broadway musicals like "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "Fiddler on the Roof."

"Republican murderers go home and kill your babies!" one young man yelled at theatergoers, a far cry from local public service messages urging New Yorkers to "make nice" to party delegates in the city for the four-day convention, where Bush will be nominated for another four-year term.

A second protester shoved a middle-aged woman in a black cocktail dress, shouting: "Bitch, go home! We don't want you here!" At one point, police cordoned off a city block after several dozen demonstrators jeered and razzed the incoming audience.

And the Republican campaign commercials just write themselves...

November 9, 2004

Holiday... from thinking

Sometimes you have to wonder just how idiotic the New York Times really is.

From their post-election Goo Goo editorial on needed electoral reforms, they include this item:

1. A holiday for voting. It's wrong for working people to be forced to choose between standing in a long line to vote and being on time for work. Election Day should be a holiday, to underscore the significance of the event, to give all voters time to cast ballots and to free up more qualified people to serve as poll workers.
They've been printing a letter to the editor about once a week espousing this, but you can argue that letters to the editor don't tell you much about the editors. But this is an editorial, written by the editors. Are they this clueless?

When the government declares a "holiday," it means that we pay government workers not to work; it doesn't mean that other employers give their employees the day off. Do the editors of the Times think that employers are going to rush out to give an extra vacation day to their employees?

Well, there's a simple explanation: maybe the editors of the Times actually plan to mandate that employers give employees the day off?

Gee, that will work well. Are we going to shut down hospitals? Taxis? Restaurants? Day care?

What's that? Some people will have to work? Who? Who decides? Is the government going to establish a new Department of Elections to decide which jobs are vital and can be performed on election day, and which ones require days off for workers?

Sheesh. (Of course, while I'm sure the Times would have no philosophical objection to such a new, powerful, sweeping government bureaucracy, I suspect the real answer is that they simply haven't thought past "Holiday good.")

January 10, 2005

NYC Council to NYC Consumers: Drop Dead

Wal-Mart is finally coming to New York City, which is good news for people who feel that New York can be a tad over-priced sometimes. Unfortunately, it's also good news for politicians who thrive on grandstanding:


U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat who represents Rego Park, held a press conference at the site Thursday to charge that Wal-Mart's low prices drive existing stores out of business, and its workers get no health coverage and are discouraged from forming unions.

Why my congressman needs to hold a press conference about what should merely be a local zoning issue is beyond me. Still, he's not the only unhappy politician:


City Council member Helen Sears, whose district includes the Rego Park site, said she met with Wal-Mart representatives recently and discussed the company's labor record.

"I said to them, 'If you want to come into the Big Apple, you're going to need to make some big changes.'"

The article doesn't mention what the changes need to be, but presumably it has something to do with their health insurance and labor policies (policies which, of course, are not illegal).

These and other politicians are also in agreement with Neighborhood Retail Alliance (read: anti-competitive cartel) spokesman Richard Lipsky, who worries that "if we suck those businesses out of the neighborhoods, it'll be the death of those communities." Given that stores within a ten-minute walk of the proposed Wal-Mart site on Queens Boulevard include Target, Sears, Bed Bath & Beyond, Comp USA, Circuit City, Marshalls, and the country's most profitable mall, which includes JC Penney, Macy's, and 170 or so other national retailers, I'm not as worried as Richard Lipsky about the fate of local businesses in this particular community.

It's times like these when I truly appreciate Mayor Bloomberg's sanity:


"The public votes with their feet," he said yesterday. "A lot of our business has been going outside this city into Nassau, up to Westchester, Connecticut, over into New Jersey. People drive their cars... to go and to shop. That means jobs are being lost in this city, sales tax is being lost in this city."

(Thanks to The Box Tank)

March 11, 2005

Politicians With Nothing Better To Do, Part 721

I can't say I'm a big supporter of drug legalization - at most I give the idea a tentative maybe - but I am absolutely in favor of candy legalization.


Marijuana-flavored candy, which has been getting some notoriety nationally, took a hit in Suffolk [[County] Thursday as county lawmakers took their first step toward outlawing it.

Legis. Daniel Losquadro (R-Shoreham), who sponsored a bill that would prohibit buying or selling the candy in Suffolk, wouldn't say whether it was available in local stores, but in a news conference held Thursday in Hauppauge he said it has appeared in New York City.

[...]

Meanwhile, an aide to New York City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez, who also has denounced the candy, said Thursday that a similar city ban was being drafted.

It disturbs me greatly that politicians have the power to declare anything they don't like illegal, but it disturbs me even more that this ban will probably pass and hardly anyone will bat an eye.

March 18, 2005

Politicians With Nothing Better To Do, Part 722

If I had the time, I could probably write a couple of entries a day on politicians with nothing better to do. Consider this story, entitled "Lawmaker Seeks to End Sexy Cheerleading":


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The Friday night lights in Texas could soon be without bumpin' and grindin' cheerleaders. Legislation filed by Rep. Al Edwards would put an end to "sexually suggestive" performances at athletic events and other extracurricular competitions. [...]

Under Edwards' bill, if a school district knowingly permits such a performance, funds from the state would be reduced in an amount to be determined by the education commissioner.

Edwards said he filed the bill as a result of several instances of seeing such ribald performances in his district.

As if the spectacle of a dozen attractive teenage girls prancing around in tiny tiny skirts isn't at all sexually suggestive. No, it only becomes a problem when they move their hips in a certain way that a certain legislator doesn't like. Sheesh.

Notice that the title of the article points to why there are likely countless examples of such inanity: these guys are called "lawmakers". A carmaker is expected to make cars, a candlestick-maker is expected to make candlesticks, therefore a lawmaker is expected to make laws. And make laws they shall.

The other problem is that most people probably think like my mom. Not that I've talked to her about this particular issue, but I have a pretty good idea that her response would be along the lines of "Good. Teenage girls shouldn't be doing that". Sure, I can see that perhaps they shouldn't be doing that, which makes my mom's (imagined) position difficult to argue with.

But such a position misses the larger point, which is that it shouldn't be the government's job to keep people from doing every last thing they might not supposed to be doing. Furthermore, it's absurd that anyone could even consider basing state school aid on the shake of a teenage girl's hips (shall we someday base it on watery tarts?). And most disturbingly, it's a reminder of how much power politicians really do have over us: Al Edwardses all over the country can make something illegal simply because they do not like it. And people such as my mom will applaud and never feel the slippery slope they're sliding down.

(And what do you know? I side with a blogger who describes himself as a "Democrat in Bush Country". Not that I much care if 40-year-old men ogle 14-year-old girls on their spare time, but I do agree that the Texas (or any) Legislature has to have more pressing issues.)

(And by the way - as a Republican in New York City, I probably get infinitely more crap than you do :-)

(UPDATE: Oh, sure, someone else gets the Insta-lanche!)

April 1, 2005

International Politicians...

A Norwegian cabinet minister is worried about what one-year-old Norwegian girls are wearing to the beach:


OSLO (Reuters) - A Swedish bikini-style top for toddlers will be withdrawn from sale amid criticism from a Norwegian cabinet minister that bra-like clothing was inappropriate for small girls.

"It is remarkably daft to make bra-like bikinis for one-year-olds," Norwegian Minister of Children and Family Affairs Laila Daavoey was quoted as telling the Norwegian daily Verdens Gang Thursday.

"This is a terrible commercialization of childhood. Children are not women. Bikinis on small children are a way of linking children to sexuality. We must say 'No' to this," she said.

Not stated in the article is what *is* appropriate beachwear for small girls. Little bikinis are perfectly normal and unremarkable here in the U.S., as are little one-piece suits. To label one or the other as "daft" strikes me as, well, daft.

Or is Daavoey saying that baby girls should not wear tops at all? I don't know what the norm is in Norway, but at least in Italy, girls up to the age of puberty tend to go topless on the beach. Sadly, eighteen- to twenty-six-year-old girls don't.

August 11, 2005

Are you suffering from the heartbreak of psoriasis?

If you are, you shouldn't worry. Help is on the way. At least, I think so. I can only assume that personal health problems such as these will be next on New York Attorney General/gubernatorial candidate Eliot Spitzer's agenda.

Certainly, crime is no longer a problem in the state of New York. After all, a few weeks ago he took time from his busy campaign schedule to save us from the scourge of bad music on the radio, leading to this Onionesqe quote:

As a result, Mr. Spitzer said in the settlement documents, "Sony BMG and the other record labels present the public with a skewed picture of the country's 'best' and 'most popular' recorded music."
(They did? The bastards! I am so disillusioned. I honestly thought Ashlee Simpson was one of the country's best singers. Next you're going to tell me that America's Next Top Model may not actually be America's next top model.)

And for an encore, he decided to protect us from the horror of tasteless radio sketches.

The New York State attorney general's office, which usually busies itself with white-collar crime, took the time yesterday to announce a crackdown on a face-slapping contest.
(Yes, you read that correctly.)
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said at a news conference that the parent company of a New York radio station, WQHT-FM, known as Hot 97, had agreed to pay $240,000 in penalties for its "Smackfest" competition, in which two contestants, usually young women, slap each other while standing several feet apart in the station's studio in Greenwich Village. The station also agreed to end the contests.

At the news conference, Mr. Spitzer played a clip that the station had posted on its Web site. It showed a man in a sweatshirt standing on the side between the two young women, their faces blurred out, and directing them in a loud voice.

"Queens, go!" he said, using one woman's competition name. She then smacked the other woman across the face. When they were not slapping each other, they stood with their hands behind their backs. The winner was the one who delivered the loudest slap.

I can think of less interesting things to listen to on the radio... like static. But it would be a close call. Of course, my solution would be to turn the dial -- which I guess explains why I'm not running for governor. I would assume it's just boring and pointless; fortunately, I have Eliot Spitzer to set me straight:
Mr. Spitzer said: "You can see how disturbing this is, how appalling. We'd like to think that we've advanced beyond the days of the Roman Colosseum."
Ah, yes. We clearly haven't. I distinctly remember reading the works of the great Roman historian Tacitus, describing the classic face-slapping contests between the Christians and the lions. Who won those, by the way?

And can we feed Eliot Spitzer to the lions? Where on earth does the Attorney General of New York get the authority to fine radio stations for tasteless (or even "disturbing" or "appalling") material? The article doesn't say; the New York Times spent three paragraphs giving us the history of face-slapping (I'm not making this up, folks -- read the article), but provided just this one cryptic comment on the legal issue:

The station crossed a legal line by advertising and profiting from the contest, said Francine James, the deputy attorney general who led the investigation.
Yes, there was an "investigation." ("Hey, Francine, what did you do at work today?" "Listened to the radio.") Your tax dollars at work, folks.

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