Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, August 06, 2005
Lo, for there rises outside Los Angeles yet another sign of the moral American "civilizational forces" that will "liberate" the world "from tyranny and misery" in the form of a humble strip club sign.
The Daily Breeze reports:

A...strip club and adult shop on Los Angeles' Century Boulevard is advertising exactly what it has to offer...[in a] sign outside the Century Lounge proclaiming "Vaginas R' Us."...Century Lounge owner Howard White insists he's simply advertising his business..."I felt that there was nothing terrible about it since the 'Vagina Monologues' was on Broadway forever"...Susan McLaughlin, a Toys "R" Us spokeswoman, said the company was aware of the situation and would be "looking into it immediately."

Modified Image: Google
Friday, August 05, 2005

Unhappy with his teleprompter read and claiming Al-Jazeera "colorized" his last video message, Ayman al-Zawahiri muttered, Ma jimkinsh and “Haida ma bisir” before storming off tent, in a video released by alQaeda hours ago.
Later, an al-Qaeda spokesperson said, “Ayman’s behavior on Al-Jazeera, today, was inexcusable and unacceptable. Mr. al-Zawahiri apologized to Al-Jazeera for his language and his actions."

Images: AFP Getty, Reuters
Thursday, August 04, 2005

In a trivial conversation about Kathrine Harris' make-up fib with James Carville on CNN's late afternoon political programming, Robert Novak, this afternoon, graphically displayed the strain he's under from the Plame investigation by cursing and storming off the set after grumbling that he, too, had his photograph "colorized" by newspapers.
Crooks and Liars and Media Matters have the clip.'s FishbowlDC has CNN's reaction:

Bob Novak's behavior on CNN today was inexcusable and unacceptable. Mr. Novak has apologized to CNN, and CNN apologizes to its viewers for his language and actions. We've asked Mr. Novak to take some time off.

Of course, ratings and eyeball-hungry CNN is currently featuring Novak's crack-up on its online Free Video feature.
Additionally, the CNN official transcript does not include the Carville remark that immediately preceeded Novak saying "bullshit".
Carville said, "The Wall Street Journal editorial page is watching, ya gotta show 'em your tough."

With apologies to Rene Magritte's 1948 painting Memory, I present the above Novak version in celebration of today's terminal CNN crack-up.

Laugh, Clown, Laugh!

Hannity offers Harris a wet shoulder

Florida’s former Secretary of State and currently Congressman from Longboat Key and the Republican candidate for Florida's junior US Senate seat had a delusional pity party with FOX News sweater boy Sean Hannity Monday afternoon, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Classic Harris and her Florida Secretary of State photo

Blissfully unaware of her own unfortunate efforts at facial reconstruction, Miss Harris, obviously still stinging from the post Election 2000 Cruella DeVil recount make-up controversy, claimed, to Hannity’s gullible radio audience, that “newspapers colorized my photograph.”

Photo from Harris' Congressional site

According to the Tampa Tribune’s William March:

``I'm actually very sensitive about those things, and it's personally painful,'' Harris said when host Sean Hannity asked about her image problems from 2000. ``But they're outrageously false…whenever they made fun of my makeup, it was because the newspapers colorized my photograph,'' Harris said…Asked Tuesday to point to an altered photograph, Harris and her staff could not...``I haven't [Harris said] worn blue eye shadow since the seventh grade”.

Forget the make-up. What's on her neck?

With a basic Google search, the planetsean photographic investigation squad uncovered, as you can see here, some basic, unretouched and blue eye shadow-heavy images from conservative online sources and one shockingly egregious example of retouching and photo manipulation.

Unretouched Photos:,,,,,
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Tasting Blue

Congressman-elect Schmidt and Paul Hackett

Though unsuccessful by a mere 4% in his attempt to return Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District to the Democratic party, Paul Hackett’s stunningly strong showing deep in Bush country recasts the southwestern Ohio lawyer and Marine Reserve Major as a Democratic Moses whose campaign could lead Democrats toward the promise of victory in next year’s Congressional Midterm elections.
Hackett’s near victory is even more stunning when you consider that the 2nd Ohio gave president Bush 64% and former Congressman Rob Portman 70% of the total vote less than 9 months ago.
Voter analysis, not yet available but initially based on conversations with traditional Hamilton County Republicans, will likely show significant defections to the Democrats by some war and economy-weary members of the GOP.
Among the 7 counties that comprise the 2nd, Hackett won the four more rural eastern counties and came within 1,400 votes from taking the main metropolitan county of Hamilton.
Scandal-tainted party hack and Congressman-elect Schmidt achieved solid margins in only two counties and victory only after a late and questionable vote count in her home territory of Clermont County.
According to the AP and the Clermont County Board of Elections, the vote tally was late because:

It was so hot -- and humid -- Tuesday. Board member Tim Rudd says the ballots pick up moisture when it gets hot, making it tougher for the optical scan machines to sort and count.

Schmidt’s narrow and questionable victory is even more embarrassing to the national party considering, according the Cincinnati Enquirer, “more than $500,000 in support from the National Republican Congressional Committee…paid for a near-constant stream of television commercials during the campaign's final week.”
The strong showing by Mr. Hackett, who has promised to return to the Iraqi battlefield if defeated and whose prior service was shockingly smeared by rabid rightwing radio chickenhawks over the final two days of the campaign, is also a major victory for the DNC Chairman Dean and the grassroots/blogging faction of the new Democratic Party.
Schmidt’s costly seat will end with next year’s midterms.

The President, meanwhile, tuckered from those 9 to 5 days relieved only by almost daily midafternoon 2 hour exercise periods, is beginning the longest Presidential vacation in, according to the Washington Post, 36 years.
Always reliable White House aides suggest that vacation skeptical citizens “do not understand the modern presidency or Bush's own work habits.”
During this vacation the President, with 3 years remaining in his term, will surpass Ronald Reagan’s 335 term-total vacation days.

Images modified and not: MSNBC, Michael Keating-Cincinnati Enquirer,
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
A silly commentary on Bush’s fantasy Mars Mission by the New York’s Times’ new conservative Op-Ed writer drew my attention this morning.
Like a NYT version of Victor Appleton I, II or III, John Tierney writes in a manner reminiscent of 1962’s Tom Swift and His Megascope Space Prober with a light presentation that avoids the major problem confronting any human presence within the interplanetary environment.
Tierney regales us with his own spacesuited jaunt inside a Canadian crater and seemingly mocks NASA’s no doubt foot-dragging lefty scientists for a failure to achieve rotational gravity inside America’s spacecrafts.
Come on NASA, do you want Tierney and Stanley Kubrick to do all the work for ‘ya?
In spite of Tierney’s not fully researched silliness, he correctly snares the primary conservative capitalist reason for Mr. Bush’s Martian push in his first sentence, “Mars… the best undeveloped real estate left in the solar system.”
Showing my innate fairness and balance, I emailed Mr. Tierney with my first NYT pundit love note since my January 15, 2004 missive to Maureen Dowd:

Sir, While funding and weightlessness are problems with a flight to Mars regardless of Mr. Bush's on the cheap fantasy, the real difficulty, previously reported by your paper's excellent science reporters and recommended for your information, is the shielding of human tissue from interplanetary radiation and the occasional solar flare.
I would particularly recommend an article by Matthew L. Wald printed, I think, on December 10, 2003 that graphically described basic interplanetary radiation as "every element on the periodic table up to iron (No. 26), moving at a substantial fraction of the speed of light, and approaching from distant stars in all directions."

1999 NASA study believes a 5 meter thick wall of soil encasing an interplanetary craft "may be able to provide adequate protection" to human occupants.
Then, of course, there is the mind-churning problem of the "bremsstrahlung effect".
According to a Joint USAF/NASA study (Combined Release/Radiation Effects Satellite Mission) no longer available online:

A second major issue in shielding is the "bremsstrahlung" effect. Laboratory tests have shown that when shielding for a system is increased beyond a certain point, the secondary radiation produced in the shielding by the primaries increases, actually leading to higher doses of the radiation.

The word "primaries" refers to Heavy and Light Primaries...highly destructive remnants of the Big Band and stellar explosions that can even penetrate Earth's magnetic field.
So, Bush and Halliburton's lust for interplanetary business models and lucrative Martian mining contracts face difficulties far greater than the featuresque Tom Swiftian turmoil outlined in your commentary.
I don't expect you to toss "hot" water on Jr's plans, but a story examining the current state of interplanetary radiological studies by the NYT's excellent science writers could be very informative.
"One angel", as you write, might be able to pay for a Mars expedition but a legion of the little buggers will be required to solve the real difficulties facing a human flight to the 4th planet.

If only America's current Mars or Bust crowd could draw upon the assistance of Tom Swift, Jr's friends from Planet X!

Monday, August 01, 2005
While I cannot speak to your particular corner of the NeoEmpire, in my chunk, one is hearing, over the past week or so, various people remarking that the Brits have rounded up their transit terrorists in less than a month while Mr. Bush’s administration, after spending vast sums of tax-payer cash and US prestige, have, in almost 4 years, had no luck in arresting Sheik Omar or Osama binLaden.
Mr. Bush’s haphazard and special interest-benighted conduct of the War on Terra takes another hit in the court of public opinion, with a story published yesterday in The Sunday Times of London and somewhat telegraphed by a July 26 story in another British Murdock-owned newspaper The Sun.
According to yesterday’s Times:

One by one, Al-Qaeda’s affiliated websites have vanished…Someone has cut the line of communication between the spiritual leaders of international terrorism and their supporters…The Israelis detect the hand of British intelligence…One global jihad site terminated recently was…entitled How to Strike a European City…Ironically, the most readily available sources of accurate online information on bomb-making are the websites of the radical American militia.

According to The Sun article:

The role of patriotic hackers in taking down extremists websites is [as] clouded in deep secrecy, as it is illegal. The FBI has put out a statement in the past warning them to stop or face prosecution…the US is now the country where most of these sites are hosted. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says that it would be 'unconstitutional' and against the US constitution's First Amendment on freedom of speech if they were to pressure the hosting companies.

Fascinating, no?
Federal agents, in these Patriot Act days, have plenty of time to collate book requests at public libraries and to lurk at innocuous political blogs but find it, according to The Sun, “unconstitutional” to “pressure the hosting companies” of domestic extremist websites.
Now I can immediately hear a Bush supporter say that successful efforts in the War or Terra or rather the newly minted Struggle Against Global Extremism might not necessarily be publicized.
To that I would say, “Piffle.”
After last summer’s string of politically-inspired terror alerts and the seemingly intentional outing of Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan in early August 2004, an outing some suggest contributed to the London bombings, I find it implausible to imagine Mr. Bush would not try to hike his dangerously low poll numbers with a well-publicized terror bud-nipping.
Any sensible American should pause and reflect on Britain’s successfully fast-paced counter terror efforts; efforts achieved without a war, crimping the freedoms of British citizens or vast new expenditures of special-interest cash.

Photos: Google,, USAToday

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