News, Weather, Mozart, Sports, Eurovision Love Ænema & Perverted Videogames from Vleeptron

NGO_Vleeptron (aka "Bob from Massachusetts") recently featured LIVE on BBC WORLD SERVICE, heard briefly by Gazillions!!!

My Photo
Location: Great Boreal Deciduous Hardwood Forest, New England, United States

old dude, all hair, swell new teeth

30 June 2005

Bob reaches for the stars! And eats barbecue!

pat's pub said...

Apparelntly they [Geneva and Vaud cantons] do have their own censorship Boards, I wasn't aware of that. Who cares about these ratings anyway.. And Calvin is still dead, thankfully . He was a stupid git anyway.

Ever been to Cape Kennedy ? Taken the tour where they give you the History of NASA ? Apparently they used to sit in a bunker at the beach and fire rockets into the sky. If you get there on a good day you can even talk to some eye witnesses (my guide claimed that he named one of the monkeys they shot into space).


(I think it's time for an episode of X Minus One for me now....)


Florida is completely flat just about everywhere. Before Disney World was built, my brother went to Rollins College in Orlando in the 1960s. They could see night launches from Cape Canaveral, I guess 50 miles away, a spectacular free fireworks show.

The screwy thing about these model rockets -- they are small compared to the Space Shuttle or orbital rockets, but they are Not Toys -- is that while we're all having fun and screaming and laughing as we launch these things in the middle of the football field, this is exactly the way the origins of rocketry began in the 1920s.

Except for the absence of laughter and barbecue, Werner von Braun and his pals in the Verein für Raumschiffahrt -- the German Amateur Rocket Society -- were exactly like the Planet Mongo Rocket Forces, talking about the same things, solving the same problems, organizing their activities exactly the same way, concerned about peoples' safety the same way (and wondering where they were going to get the money for their rockets -- eventually the German Army solved their money problems).

VLEEPTRON HISTORICAL NOTE: One of the luckiest things that happened to the German Amateur Rocket Club was the Treaty of Versailles. After World War One, the Allied victors forbade defeated Germany from re-militarizing in just about every major war technology -- no new, bigger Navy, no new bigger Air Force, no bigger, better Artillery. But in 1920, rockets played almost no role in warfare -- they were somewhere between toys and flares, the Treaty did not forbid Germany from trying to develop this technology and explore its role in the aggressive warfare of the future.

When the Nazis / National Socialists took control of the government, they had allies already waiting for them in the professional military corps -- soldiers and sailors who were asphyxiating under the punitive demilitarization requirements of the Treaty. Then someone in the military heard about and started observing at launches and meetings of the Amateur Rocket Club. The military had the Secret Ingredient that the Rocket Club didn't: Money. And in those days, the Verein could be made Happy, delirious with a check for today's U$500, these were totally focused nerds who just wanted to know how to build a bigger or better liquid fuel pump. That their New Friends with Money had swastikas all over their uniforms (though they usually visited the Verein in plain clothes) -- well, what the hell, the Quakers weren't offering to pay for the new pump.

When the Meme jumps into a person's head that with a lot of money, a slide rule, and a metal shop and garage, that person could travel off the Earth and visit other moons, planets and stars, something has happened to his head that is Much Bigger than Religion or Politics. The Geist von Mongo ist der Geist von der Verein fur Raumsschiffahrt -- the Society for Space Navigation. Space Navigation. Space Navigation. I have a slide rule, this guy is writing me checks. Space Navigation. Navigation.

Quite frankly I am drunk on this idea -- that things my buddies and I could do in the machine shop (if we had lots of money and then quit our jobs so we could work on this idea more) could end up with a couple of us climbing into a tiny tin can and being shot into space for a year on a voyage to Mars ... Oh yes I got totally (apolitically, like Wernher) drunk on this idea the very first time I saw the rock musicians in Marin County, California set these rockets off. The Act of Launching a Rocket is thrilling all by itself. The idea that if you just keep building bigger and bigger rockets and solving all the little problems that keep cropping up as you invent a new technology, ten, twenty, thirty years later, you (or maybe your college niece or nephew) could take a Voyage to Mars. (Walt Disney was also drunk on this idea, decades ahead of the US government, and worked ceaselessly to push Space Travel into the US government agenda. He was close friends with Edwin Hubble.) So far no human entity has taken a Voyage to Mars, although all the technology required has already been sufficiently perfected. All it requires is Money and Will and Vision. The US Government has other things occupying its attention this decade. So maybe the first flag to go up on the Sands of Mars will be the Planet Mongo Flag, or the Peche-Fuchsia-and-Cobalt (sniff) of Vleeptron.

Mongo, in conjuction with the High Non-Junk-Science & Engineering Council of Vleeptron, has strict controls and regulations to see that we do not persue our Hobby in such a way that ten years later, major cities are being rained on by ballistic missiles packed with high explosives.

50 miles east of me in Worcester Massachusetts, a physics professor at Clark University was doing weird rocket stuph in cow fields in the 1920s -- Robert Goddard. The Worcester local government got complaints that he was scaring the cows and they warned him to stop. Eventually he took his experiments to the wilderness of New Mexico, some little dot barely on the map called Roswell.

When the Americans captured the German rocket scientists (the ones the Soviets didn't capture) from Peenemunde in 1945, they interrogated the scientists. "Who invented this? Where did you get this technology? Who's the big brain behind all this rocket stuff?" The Germans whose V1 and V2 rockets had been pounding the crap out of UK (they were all veterans of the old amateur Verein rocket club) thought the American interrogators were insane -- the Americans had never heard of their own Robert Goddard, whom the Germans worshipped as The God of Rocketry. In America his rocket work was completely ignored, and there's a very famous New York Times editorial ridiculing the whole idea of a rocket flying into space.

If this photo magically succeeds, it shows Goddard about to launch "Nell" (and frighten some nice cows) on 16 March 1926. The big stuff is just a metal framework for launch stability, but the rocket itself -- Mongo has launched several rockets bigger than that. And I think they're saying that Nell's first launch went 41 feet (12.5 meters) high. Huh. Hah. 41 feet -- Mongo routinely hits 0.75 mile.

Of course ours are solid fuel engines, and Goddard was developing liquid fuel rockets, kerosene, liquid oxygen, pumps to mix them and control the ignition. Once you press the Mongo Launch Button, the engine can't be turned off or controlled or steered. Goddard and the Verein were trying for something a bit fancier. But give Mongo time! (And a budget of a few billion dollars!)

You like those old Tom Lehrer songs, like the patriotic song for World War III (written in advance, no time to write or sing it after war starts). Here's Lehrer's encomium to Our Great National Space Genius (also immortalized by Kurt Jurgens in the movie "I Reach for the Stars.")

* * * * * * *

TOM LEHRER: And what is it that put America in the forefront of the nuclear nations? And what is it that will make it possible to spend twenty billion dollars of your money to put some clown on the moon? Well, it was good old American know-how, that's what, as provided by good old Americans like Dr. Wernher von Braun!

Gather 'round while I sing you of Wernher von Braun,
A man whose allegiance
Is ruled by expedience.
Call him a Nazi, he won't even frown,
"Ha, Nazi, Schmazi," says Wernher von Braun.

Don't say that he's hypocritical,
Say rather that he's apolitical.
"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun.

Some have harsh words for this man of renown,
But some think our attitude
Should be one of gratitude,
Like the widows and cripples in old London town,
Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun.

You too may be a big hero,
Once you've learned to count backwards to zero.
"In German oder English I know how to count down,
Und I'm learning Chinese!" says Wernher von Braun.

We Gotta Get Outta This Place / If It's The Last Thing We Ever Do

Leo Wong of J4J / Java For Jesus was snooping through used book stores in the Hudson River Valley for one of my books, and ran into Dan W., a bookstore proprietor who

(a.) worked in a Washington DC bookstore with me in 1193 AD and

(b.) asked Leo if screwy Bob is still launching rockets into the atmosphere like he did a decade or two ago. Dan and a pal built some Estes and Centuri model rockets and drove about 80 miles one Sunday to take part in a whomp-ass rocket launch and barbecue party in Amherst, Massachusetts -- as Bob had commanded about fifty people to do.

Leo is now very politely inquiring why I seem always to be trying to get the hell off this planet.

I have Leo's permission to reprint this letter to him, and he will not cut my xnrqq off.

{ [ ( o ) ] }

A Brief History of the
Planet Mongo Rocket Forces

Leo! I am trying to write a perverse, wildly offensive, shocking, supercontroversial novel that will wind me up with an angry mob of townsfolk on my lawn with torches and tar and feathers. And you are distracting me from this important literary work by flooding my mind with Happy Memories.

I am Ming the Merciless, Emperor-for-Life (Kaiser Permanente) of the Planet Mongo Rocket Forces, originally -- hmmm maybe circa 1981 - 1987 -- a club for launching Estes and Centuri model rockets (electrically ignited, solid-fuel chemical engines, available in any good hobby shop, initial $20 investment -- this includes cheapest launcher rig -- gets you into Very Low Space Sub-Orbital Flight), followed by a raucous barbecue.

I took a trip to visit a friend in Marin County, California maybe in 1974, and one day he dragged me to a baseball field where a bunch of his musician friends were shooting off these model rockets. Okay, so it ain't Profound, and sheds very little light on the Ultimate Meaning of Life and the Universe. But boy was that Just Neat-o Kean-o Nifty ...


and that sucker is suddenly Out Of Sight, maybe as high as 1/2 to 3/4 miles -- get the right rocket and engines and 1 mile is pretty easy to achieve -- and then everybody has to run around like chickens with their heads cut off, screaming THERE IT IS! OVER THERE! while it wafts back to earth on an automatically opened parachute (you can also waft it back with fancier glider systems).

The experience seared my eyeballs and my brain -- have I mentioned? My Inner Child never grew an Outer Adult -- and I vowed to myself that sooner or later I would start my own model rocket club. When I married and we ended up here, I seemed settled enough to start the rocket club.

My newspaper buddies said they were interested, but when I tried to organize it democratically, with nominations for officers, committees, etc., absolutely nothing happened, no progress whatsoever toward building or launching a single rocket.

So I declared myself Emperor Ming the Merciless of Mongo, sent everyone specific commands, told them when and where to meet, everyone had to build and bring a rocket and give it a Silly Name (one of mine was called DEAD SMURF, and when an adult read it to a little girl, she burst into tears), everyone had to give me some money because There Is No Such Thing As A Free Launch, and whaddyaknow? About a dozen people showed up with about five rockets and we shot them up into the sky -- usually you can keep shooting the same rocket, with new engines, three or four times until it winds up hopelessly caught in a high tree or just plain lost. Then we had a raucous barbecue.

Some historians believe The Planet Mongo Rocket Forces Bulletins were better than the actual launchings. Some people wrote me that they couldn't possibly come to the launch, but would I please keep sending them the Mongo Bulletins? I always promised that we'd have musical guests at the party like Yma Sumac or Slim Whitman. (I am a liar. People suspected that.)

Eventually -- to my astonishment -- around 50 people would show up, some from hundreds of miles away, with dozens of rockets, to launches. We would hold them at the Mongo Secret Rocket Test Launch Facility, which was cleverly disguised as the University of Massachusetts athletic fields, in Amherst about 12 miles east of me. The contiguous soccer and baseball and whatever fields are one of the few public park-like treeless flat open spaces around here so most rockets don't get lost or trapped in trees. (The really ambitious high ones -- they can still end up goners in the campus buildings and dorms, and one wafted down into the Amherst Solid Waste Treatment Plant, and totally against my wishes, two frootloops climbed over the cyclone fence and tried to retrieve it.)

At the start of each launch, we'd wheel a car battery bunjied to a hand truck into the middle of the field and set up four or six launch rods on a sawhorse. I'd jury-rigged a handheld springloaded pushbutton launch button, which I usually let a kid (sometimes a kid named Me) push after we all screamed


And then off that sucker would go and everyone chicken head cut off etc. I also had a battery-operated bullhorn. I don't see how you can launch rockets or boss large numbers of people around without one.

Mongo is proud to report that in perhaps eight big launches, we had a 100% Perfect Safety Record, no lost fingers or eyes, not even a required Band-Aid. (For like $1 registering your club, Estes underwrites your launches for some astronomical amount of accident/liability insurance provided you can demonstrate that you fairly scrupulously followed the Estes Model Rocket Safety Code and Good Space Citizenship Pledge, and weren't drunk. The Emperor permitted no intoxicants until the launch was over.)

We had so many people and such a comfie excess in the badly mismanaged club treasury by the last launch that we hired the American Legion Hall and the Pajama Slave Dancers (actual nationally-known band, but from around here) as the musical talent, and the food we made was great, and the Legion had its bar open and was happy to sell drinks to any interested rocket club guests and musicians (we paid the musicians in cash, and they were very interested).

For some insane reason I associated the rocket club with my divorce -- well, it was a One-Emperor-Show, and the Emperor sort of just lost interest, and the PMRF died. Later I recycled Mongo as a Yahoo List for smart people to post about anything they felt like. The flavor was somewhat not unlike Vleeptron.

There's just something about Earth and everything I know about it (too much) that keeps my thoughts spending a lot of time in outer space and on other planets. Or trying to improve Mongo's rocket program to maybe get off of this sick, frustrating, ulcerative rock. (Our prime contractor was Central American Rockwell, our combined Secret Police and Chorus Line were the Tonton Rockettes.)

After the club got going pretty well, we introduced the Egg Scrambler -- a special rocket that you launch and try to recover a raw egg in its nose cone. If you don't break the egg, you are then Approved to launch a small Biological nose cone Package -- really cockroach or ant was as high up the Tree of Life the Emperor was willing to permit. (Some disturbed kids and Boy Scouts and junior high science teachers send up frogs.) We also successfully built and launched the Astro-Cam, which shoots up for a quarter mile, turns upside down at the zenith/apogee, and takes the photo of all the assembled Mongonians dumbly staring up into the sky at the rocket taking their picture down on the athletic field.

I just wanted to launch some dumb cheap rockets and then throw a loud party. I had no idea people would like it so much. Once I tried to abdicate, the work and details and responsibility of orderly bookkeeping were driving me nuts, but -- perhaps for the first and only time in history -- my subjects revolted and refused to let me resign from being their benevolent Emperor-for-Life. (So much for the instincts of democracy and freedom which beat deep in every human breast.)

I had forgotten Dan and his Squeeze drove about 70 miles for the launch.

I need to bring it back -- maybe I can use the Internet or Vleeptron to announce it.

The thing is, ever since then, people come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed the launches and the rockets and ask me when Mongo will launch again.

The little kids who come -- their eyes just bug out when the damn things go


and disappear, and they see these dozens of Adults running around chickens heads screaming shrieking laughing, and I know of one kid who just got all screwed up on Science because of being dragged to a silly Mongo Launch like when he was nine, and now he's taking hard science and math at Cornell. He apparently has ever since that one Mongo Day looked on me as some kind of Divine Inspired Strange Neighborhood Being, spreading Very Odd But Very Interesting Things into the Communitosphere, or so his dad loves to tell me. He finds it very hard to categorize exactly what he remembers me and all these other people doing, but now he's studying to be a rocket scientist at Cornell. FWOOOOOOOOOSH!!!!!

Women loved Mongo as much as men, girls as much as boys. It turned out to be a perfect thing adults and kids could just go apeshit fun doing together, everybody on precisely the same wavelength, no concepts too complicated to explain to kids even of very young ages. And it was a very good introduction to kids to show them the Adult Sense of Humor and Adult Idea of Fun.

Giggle one Sunday -- Sunday is always a pathetically slow news day for the local TV stations -- we lured Channel 40, the ABC affiliate, to the Mongo Launch and made the 6 and 11 pm news. Mongo is nothing if not Photogenic. I always wore one of those big old 1950s-style telephone headsets which was not plugged into anything, I looked like a NASA engineer circa 1958.

My advice, if you do nothing else, is to go to the hobby shop like this month and just stockpile some of the DOT-approved Estes and Centuri rocket engines while Homeland Security still allows them to be sold -- the bigger the engine the better. Also buy a couple of packages of electrical ignitors. These things are Much Too Much Fun not to be banned and outlawed any day now. The rest of the rocket and launch rig you can always make from screatch out of cardboard paper towel tubes, mailing cylinders, balsa wood, glue, etc. Some people (former Boy Scouts, that type) go nuts with fancy painting and decaling. I hang mine outside on a string and spray-paint them in 25 seconds, unbelievably crude, dangerous, suspicious looking things.

Would you stay on Earth all the time if you had a way off? I'm trying. Ad Astra Per Aspera.


I know who this person is!!! this one must be the Real McCoy!!!

[received Wednesday 29 June 2005 21:12:20]

Dear Intending partner

This mail may not be surprising to you if you have been following current events in the international media with reference to the Middle East and Palestine in particular.

I am Mrs. SUHA ARAFAT, the wife of YASSER ARAFAT, the Palestinian leader who died recently in Paris.

Since his death and even prior to the announcement, I have been thrown into a state of antagonism,confusion, humiliation, frustration and hopelessness by the present leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the new Prime Minister. I have even been subjected to physical and psychological torture. As a widow that is so traumatized, I have lost confidence with everybody in the country at the moment.

You must have heard over the media reports and the Internet on the discovery of some fund in my husband secret bank account and companies and the allegations of some huge sums of money deposited by my husband in my name of which I have refuses to disclose or give up to the corrupt Palestine Government.

In fact the total sum allegedly discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of about $6.5 Billion Dollars. And they are not relenting on their effort to make me poor for life. As you know, the Moslem community has no regards for woman, hence my desire for a foreign assistance. You can visit the BBC news broadcast below for better understanding of what I am talking about;

I have deposited the sum of 28 million dollars with a security firm abroad whose name is withheld for now until we open communication. I shall be grateful if you could receive this fund into your bank account for safe keeping and any Investment opportunity. This arrangement is known to you and my personal Attorney.He might be dealing with you directly for security reasons as the case may be.

In view of the above, if you are willing to assist for our mutual benefits, we will have to negotiate on your Percentage share of the $28,000,000 that will be kept in your position for a while and invested in your name for my trust pending when my Daughter, Zahwa, will come for the sharring of this fund in your country.

Please note that this is a golden opportunity that comes once in life time and more so, if you are honest, I am going to entrust more funds in your care as this is one of the legacy we keep for our children.

In case you don't accept please do not let me out to the security and international media as I am giving you this information in total trust and confidence I will greatly appreciate if you accept my proposal in good faith. Please expedite action.I will forward my personal lawyers contact to you as soon as you agree to help.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Suha Arafat

Tagging: Youth Colors Our Urban Spaces (PostYankee 43 cents)

My first faux postage stamp. PostYankee is the issuing authority of one of my two imaginary countries, The Yankee Federation (the breakaway six states of New England: Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont).

The other imaginary country is Tierra de los Sueños (Dreamland), whose issuing authority is TdSPosta, whose capital is Pesadilla (Nightmare), and whose world-famous beach resort is Beso de Conejo (Bunnykiss). When the first Spanish Conquistador landed on the beach of Tierra de los Sue
ños to plant the flag of España, a bunny ran up to him and kissed him on the nose. This moment is depicted in a statue in the Plaza Centro de Pesadilla.

Every stamp of TdSPosta is a dream: One of my dreams, somebody else's dream, a Famous Dream, a Classic Dream or Nightmare. I may have lost it, but I had one of being naked at the Senior Prom (and nobody in gowns and rented tuxedos seems to notice). TdS stamps are very difficult to send and receive, because all mail from Tierra de los Sueños must cross the International Waking Zone / Zona Internaçional de Vigilia.

I thought this stamp was slightly funny, but I also thought it was entirely safe and innocuous. Then some woman saw it and we got into a huge and ugly fight about it Because There's Nothing Funny About Graffiti. Okay, you win, Graffiti is as a bad as genocide and must be stopped at all costs. All teenage taggers should be put in prison for life. There's Nothing Funny About Graffiti. There isn't even anything funny about fast and constantly moving subway trains which wake up one morning to find they have been entirely graffitied over from head to toe, even though the entire subway system is crawling with anti-graffiti cops. Nothing funny about that. Kids should all be horsewhipped.

Mail Art / Postal Art was pretty much founded by two artists, Ray Johnson and Donald Evans. If you can find the coffee-table book "The World of Donald Evans," buy it immediately. If you feel bad that Bob high-pressured you into buying it and you don't like it, send it to Bob. Now there are thousands of Postal Artists/Mail Artists/Faux Postage Artists all around the world. And one guy named Bob who really isn't a visual artist at all, but just hung around on the Mail Art List because he heard there was a free buffet. (The Swedish meatballs are great.)

All the denominations of PostYankee and Tierra de los Sueños stamps are Prime Numbers. The brick wall of "Tagging" is laid in Flemish bond, and the stamp was created using MS_Paint, which is more fun than people should be allowed to have with free software or with their pants on.

A woman I know was talking about her summers when she was in high school. Her date would walk her home. Before they got to her house, down the block was a shadowy brick wall, and they would make out passionately for forty minutes, as teenagers do on summer nights, her with her back up against the brick wall. After she got home and went upstairs to her bedroom and took off her blouse, she could see Flemish bond very clearly impressed on her back.

the Vleeptron card and/or t-shirt

Instructions for Vleeptron Card:

1. Click on the image to see a larger version. If the result of a printout of the larger version of the two sides of a business card is actually 9 cm wide by 5 cm high, that will be an authentic Religious Miracle. Go directly to Step 3.

2. Otherwise, with the rectangle borders still there, shrink or enlarge so the card is 9 cm wide by 5 cm high.

3. Get rid of the rectangle borders. Photocopy on many different bright colors of card stock. Distribute liberally to friends, acquaintances, colleagues, strangers, government officials, journalists, movie stars, outer space aliens, undocumented aliens.

4. Image also suitable for t-shirts.

"You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!" -- Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"

Amy said...

Okay, found where it was from.


The Harvard Crimson
(Harvard University student newspaper)
Friday 16 July 2004

Former HBS Prof Blasts Bush
Business scholar says president
was 'shallow,' 'flippant' in 1970s class

Crimson Staff Writer

As the race for the White House heats up and the nation’s left-leaning heads come together to unearth potential skeletons in President Bush’s closet, one line in his resume has avoided major scrutiny: the time Bush spent just across the Charles River, earning an MBA at the Harvard Business School (HBS) in the 1970s. Now, as some fervently question the commander-in-chief’s performance in the Texas National Guard decades ago and more current-minded politicos take aim at the events surrounding Sept. 11, 2001 and the invasion of Iraq, one former HBS professor is doing his best to publicize his recollections of what he calls a sarcastic, mediocre student who went on to lead the United States.

Yoshihiro Tsurumi, an avowed opponent of Bush’s current views and policies who was a visiting associate professor of international business at HBS between 1972 and 1976, said Bush was among 85 students he taught one year in a required first-year course. In the class on "Environment Analysis for Management," incorporating elements of macroeconomics, industrial policy and international business, Tsurumi said students discussed and debated case studies for 90 minutes several times a week.

Tsurumi -- now a professor of international business at Baruch College in the City University of New York -- said he remembers the future president as scoring in the bottom 10 percent of students in the class.

Thirty years after teaching the class, Tsurumi said the twenty-something Bush’s statements and behavior "always very shallow" -- still stand out in his mind.

Whenever [Bush] just bumped into me, he had some flippant statement to make," said Tsurumi when reached at his home in Scarsdale, N.Y. "The comments he made were revealing of his prejudice."

The White House did not reply to requests for comment on Bush’s time at HBS.

Tsurumi said he particularly recalls Bush’s right-wing extremism at the time, which he said was reflected in off-hand comments equating the New Deal of the 1930s with socialism and the corporation-regulating Securities and Exchange Commission with "an enemy of capitalism."

I vividly remember that he made a comment saying that people are poor because they’re lazy," Tsurumi said.

Tsurumi also said Bush displayed a sense of arrogance about his prominent family, including his father, former U.S. President George H.W. Bush.

"[George W. Bush] didn’t stand out as the most promising student, but ... he made it sure we understood how well he was connected," Tsurumi said. "He wasn’t bashful about how he was being pushed upward by Dad’s connections."

Tsurumi said that the younger Bush boasted that his father’s political string-pulling had gotten him to the top of the waiting list for the Texas National Guard instead of serving in Vietnam. When other students were frantically scrambling for summer jobs, Tsurumi said, Bush explained that he was planning instead for a visit to his father in Beijing, where the senior Bush was serving at the time as the special U.S. envoy to China.

In addition, Tsurumi is still sore about what he recalls as Bush’s slight to his cinematic taste. When he arranged for students to view the film of John Steinbeck’s "The Grapes of Wrath" during their study of the Great Depression, Tsurumi said, Bush derided the film as "corny."

At the time, Tsurumi said his worries about his student extended no further than the boardroom.

"All Harvard Business School students want to become president of a company one day," Tsurumi said. "I remember saying, 'If you become president of a company some day, may God help your customers and employees.'"

When he discovered that his former pupil was vying for the presidency in 2000, Tsurumi said he tried to inform the public about his experience with the then-Texas governor at HBS -- but got few results beyond hate mail.

"Last election time, if you recall, the American mass media did a shameful job of vetting [the presidential candidates]," Tsurumi said.

As another November approaches, Tsurumi is trying again to air his criticisms of the man he once taught and his actions as president.

"This time it seems to be getting around a bit more widely," he said. "After three years of dismal record, people seem more inclined to believe that all his failed leadership was apparent during the Harvard Business School years."

In a July 2 speech to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo, Tsurumi repeated the broadside he has launched repeatedly in the past.

"I always remember two groups of students," Tsurumi said then, according to published reports. "One is the really good students, not only intelligent, but with leadership qualities, courage. The other is the total opposite, unfortunately to which George belonged."

* Staff writer Simon W. Vozick-Levinson can be reached at

29 June 2005

The Iraq Speech: the Drunk Driver speaks and says nothing

He isn't the first Drunk Driver President we've had.

As a young Congressman from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln (a veteran of the Black Hawk Indian Wars) denounced President James K. Polk's Mexican War, calling it a Scoundrel's War in rhetoric on the floor of Congress as harsh as the anti-war rhetoric during the Vietnam War. Lincoln voted for every appropriation to support our troops already committed to combat.

Ulysses S. Grant and Warren G. Harding were disasters at picking honest and competent cabinet secretaries and government agency chiefs. Their administrations drowned and foundered in noxious oceans of corruption. Grant, of course, had been a brilliant and successful Union Army general and took the surrender at
Appomattox that ended the Civil War. Harding was -- well, for his times, he just looked very handsome and very prosperous and very confident. When you saw him or his photograph, you couldn't imagine that such a man was a total disaster at managing the federal government.

Harding's wife was a spiritualist who conducted table-knocking seances to get advice from the dead in the White House. Harding was surprised in a White House closet having sex with a woman who was not Mrs. Harding. (Nancy Reagan consulted an astrologer to plan and schedule President Reagan's every move.)

There is still a Vleeptron Controversy that I can't find a citation for: Had George W. Bush Jr. ever been outside the United States before he became President? No guessing. Give Vleeptron a credible citation for Yes or No. (Across the Mexican border to attend to certain biological functions doesn't count.)

Bush seems the worst Drunken Driver President because he's happening to us right now. Presidential car wrecks that happened to grandpa or great-grandpa blessedly seem much less important.

Young American men and women who had a right to keep living and, under wise leadership, could have had long, healthy lives are dying young right now in combat in Iraq.

Astonishingly, nearly all the US media, print and electronic, are still talking about Bush and Iraq as if his war policies just need a little tweaking and course adjustment to make them all work out fine in the end.

One early attempt I read to make me feel better about Bush said proudly and admiringly that he was the first president to hold a Masters of Business Administration degree. In my experience, of all people with college degrees, MBAs are the dumbest, know the least about anything, and are right smack-dab in the middle of all the monster corporate collapse and fraud scandals of the last decade. The federal government, and the military services of the United States, are not businesses. If some conservatives wish it were run like a business, by MBAs, it is now run by an MBA, is totally unaccountable -- the closest thing to stockholders it has are the voters -- and is chalking up historic deficits -- a business run by an MBA Drunk Driver who answers to no one.

In the private sector, no business endeavor he ever ran or was significantly associated with ever made a profit or was a market success. He couldn't find oil in Texas.

But he recycled himself into Texas and then national politics apparently because people like his handshake and his smile at fund-raising barbecues. Many people with big checkbooks like him because it's always been clear that he is a very big-business-friendly governor and president.

This is one dumb fuckhead. He's killing our sons and daughters in uniform, and achieving no military or political or diplomatic goal that can be clearly or coherently stated. He says we must stay the course to bring democracy and stability to Iraq.

Our troops are going to be there for a minimum of six more years.

But Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned on Sunday [26 June 2005] that it could last up to 12 years.

-- BBC's report on Bush's speech at Fort Bragg NC Tuesday night

Once this war began, Bush couldn't possibly realize he'd blundered bigtime and dangerously. What infinitessimal understanding of Asian and Muslim affairs he had came from surrounding himself with a cabal of Christian fundamentalist psycho hawks who promised that a new anti-Muslim crusade, and a policy of imposing America's white Christian will on the world by overwhelming shock and awe brute force, would promptly make America rich with gushing pipelines of seized oil.

He couldn't possibly end it, cut America's losses, and pull the troops out. And the Republican or Democratic president who follows him won't have the political clarity or guts to end it. All candidates for the next two presidential elections will be convinced that promising to end the American military component of the war in Iraq will be political suicide.

He is, of course, both metaphorically and literally a Drunk Driver. When he was outed with a drunk driving conviction in Maine a week before his first presidential election, he had a very interesting and original reason for why he'd never admitted it. He has daughters, and he didn't want his daughters to know their daddy had been arrested for drunk driving.

That's sweet. What a fine, loving, protective father. What an excellent Free Pass for never having to tell the truth, or the whole truth, about his past activities.

Another reason he doesn't have to discuss his youthful activities in any detail is that he became a born-again Christian. So Jesus forgave him for everything he did previously; he was a different person altogether back then.

Another reason his policies in Iraq and domestically can't be criticized or faulted is that he makes all the important decisions by praying for Jesus' guidance. Every decision that follows -- to criticize it is to criticize Jesus' influence over those who have accepted Him as their personal Savior. Knock Bush, knock Jesus.

This man is dumb as rocks, and gets to order armies and navys and air forces into combat to kill thousands of Asian Muslims and get thousands of young Americans maimed for life, killed, and infect two of five combat soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Long after Bush is in retirement attending to his Library, American families will be ripped into shreds by what Bush has done.

No American or world institution will ever have the will or the power to hold him accountable, not while he's Commander-in-Chief, not after he leaves the White House. He will live out his life being spoken about as an admirable if somewhat controversial ex-president. Americans will learn to admire him more and more after he retires.

The United States of America has the world's most powerful military. Our enemies in Iraq buy their supplies at hardware stores and antique weapons markets. They're willing, even happy to die to kill a half-dozen American soldiers. Are our soldiers and Marines willing, even happy to die to kill a half-dozen Muslims? No, and they shouldn't be. But Bush has got us into a war that the US military can't possibly win -- whatever "winning" might mean, clearly defined, to American military and civilian war leaders.

The guy thought he'd just pose for photo ops while his multi-millionaire family pals really ran things. Then came the attacks of 11 September 2001. To his horror, the American people expected him suddenly to know things and make effective decisions. He doesn't know anything, and his White House is structured so he's signing things, but he's not making any serious or substantive decisions. For exactly the same reason we don't let cute ten-year-olds drive cars down the highway: He's incompetent and stupid.

Harding had it lucky, or our great-grandparents did. It was mostly peacetime, and his incompetence and culture of corruption wasn't killing thousands of American soldiers. It was just money.

Bush's incompetence and culture of corruption is money and the blood of the sons and daughters of our neighbors.

I have no advice about what to do about Bush or Iraq. Nothing will do any good. He'll finish up his second term with historically low approval ratings, and then move on. Each month, scores of American troops will continue to be killed in the Shooting Gallery called Iraq. The president who comes next, of either party, will keep waging this war that accomplishes nothing good for anyone. Kerry voted for Bush's Scoundrel War, and ran for president never hinting he might consider ending our military commitment in Iraq. If anything, he posed as a former aggressive war hero who'd fight the war even tougher.

Great smile, firm handshake, you really want to like this guy when you meet him at a big Texas barbecue. But if you meet him at a barbecue, odds are you're rich. You may have kids -- but they're certainly not serving in uniform.

He's a drunk driver. In Maine. And as President of the United States. No one will ever hold him accountable for what he has done, and done entirely on lies. Our neighbors' kids are dying -- but that's okay. They're all volunteers; they asked for it, they knew what they were getting themselves into. And they're all from poor families, and the poor don't vote much or make much political noise that anyone has to listen to. We can keep killing these kinds of "volunteers" for a few more years before the streets of our cities fill with protestors.

It must be okay. No newspaper is demanding it stop, no Congressmen in any significant number or stridency are demanding it stop, few Senators are saying simply: We must get our troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan now.

The first US President with an MBA degree says: We must stay the course. He says he can't tell us when the troops might leave Iraq, because that would be tipping our hand to the enemy. "We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed -- and not a day longer."

Do the math. That means six years. That means twelve years. That means nothing -- words come out of his mouth and into our living rooms, and they mean nothing. It's impossible to know what that means. It means coffins coming back to Dover Air Force Base, Delaware. It certainly means that.

- 30 -

where to get those scrumptious whaleburgers
Associated Press
Originally published June 26, 2005

Whaling Commission rejects
Japan's proposal
on commercial hunting

However, point man is praised for efforts

ULSAN, South Korea -- Japan won few battles at this year's International Whaling Commission meeting. Most of its proposals aimed at eroding a moratorium on commercial whale hunts were voted down.

Yet even opponents concede the country's chief negotiator at the forum, which ended Friday, is a skilled and eloquent advocate.

Joji Morishita has become the face of Japan's determination to pursue a practice much of the world condemns: killing whales to eat their meat.

The soft-spoken director for international negotiations at the Fisheries Agency has gone before the commission to tirelessly and calmly express Japan's rationale for hunting, studying and consuming the mammals.

"Whaling itself has been sort of a symbol for Japanese identity," Morishita told The Associated Press on the sidelines of the five-day meeting of the 66-member group that regulates global whaling.

"It might be a small activity now, but it used to be at the center of the heart of Japanese," he said.

The commission banned commercial hunts in 1986 because species were near extinction after centuries of whaling.

Norway holds the world's only commercial whaling season in defiance of the ban, which is not legally binding, while Japan kills whales for what it describes as scientific research, selling the meat.

Japan, Norway and other nations this year are expected to take more than 1,550 whales.

Japan announced at the meeting that it plans to double the number of minke whales it kills each year in the Antarctic to up to 935. Critics say the program is commercial whaling in disguise.

Fueling those claims, a fast food chain in Japan began serving whale burgers Thursday.

Morishita, 47, maintains his composure in the face of vehement criticism.

Morishita is a graduate of Japan's elite Kyoto University and studied at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Though Morishita defends the right of Japanese to consume whale meat as part of their culture and traditions, he acknowledges he hasn't had any himself in months.

- 30 -

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The Sunday Mail (Australia)
Sunday 26 June 2005

Whaling activists
to battle Japanese


A RADICAL American green group that claims to have sunk nine whaling boats is headed for Australia to take on the Japanese whaling fleet this year.

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society confirmed yesterday it was making last-minute preparations for the trip.

Global condemnation is growing against Japan's plans to ramp up whaling in Australia's Southern Ocean.

But Sea Shepherd leader Paul Watson said it would pull out all stops to end the planned cull.

"They are going after an endangered species and violating the international moratorium," Mr Watson said from Florida yesterday.

The group, branded "eco-terrorists" by pro-whalers, was banned from attending last week's crucial International Whaling Commission meetings in Ulsan, South Korea.

Japan is set to defy the IWC and go ahead with plans to double the cull of minke whales and add humpback and fin whales to a so-called scientific research program.

The move will lead to the slaughtering of 800 minke whales and 80 humpback and fin whales in 2006-07.

Scientists and conservationists fear the world's only white humpback whale -- Migaloo -- will fall victim to Japan's harpoons.

- 30 -

The Great City Maze / Labyrinth Challenge

The Great City Maze /
Labyrinth Challenge

1. Go to a city you've never been to before. The city must have a subway or elevated train system you've never used before.

2. The city must speak a language which is not your native language. You can know this language not at all, slightly, or well, but the less you understand this language, the better the challenge.

3. DO NOT consult web maps or any other reference of the subway system in advance. All you can know before entering the subway system is the name of your FINISH station. You may use any wall maps. Once inside the System, you may ask a human for a System Map without penalty.

4. Rules and scoring are the same whether travelling alone or with another person or in a small group -- but no one can be fluent in city's language, or have previously used the subway system.

5. From the subway station where you START, you want to get to another subway station, the FINISH. For example, from your hotel, you wish to get to a particular museum in a distant part of the city.

6. Pick a FINISH which does not lie on the same Line as the START; i.e., your journey should require at least two transfers to other Lines.

7. If the subway system has instructions and maps posted in your native language, the more you ignore these aids, the better the challenge. Best challenge: No signs in your language, all signs in the unfamiliar language and in symbols.

8. A perfect score from START to FINISH is 1000 points. If the trip requires returning to START again, 2000 points.

9. Each time you ask a human being for help, deduct 500 points.

10. Each time you read instructions in your own language, deduct 250 points.

11. Failure to reach your FINISH earns a score of 0 points.

12. For each train you discover is heading in the wrong direction or up the wrong Line -- for each train mistake which requires doubling back -- deduct 200 points.

13. For each walking mistake in a station which requires doubling back -- deduct 100 points.

14. Panic, frustration, weeping, screaming "I'm lost! O God I'm lost! What will become of me?" -- no penalty, if you eventually collect yourself and continue.

Start your trip with lots of small bills and coins which are machine-friendly. Whenever possible, pay all fares and buy all tickets/tokens from a machine. Each time you could have used a machine, but bought from a human being, deduct 50 points. No penalty for buying from a human in a station that has no machines. Needing to get change is no excuse for dealing with a human when the station has machines.

16. Bailing out of the subway and taking a taxi: Deduct 750 points. Bailing to take a bus (unless bus absolutely necessary to reach destination): Deduct 450 points.

17. Eating lunch in a subway station en route: Add 100 points.

18. Successful encounter with panhandler in subway system (pay or not pay, but doesn't delay your progress more than one minute): Add 100 points (but panhandler must initiate the encounter). Delayed from one to two minutes: Deduct 100 points.
Delayed more than two minutes: Deduct 200 points.


CITY: Berlin
START: Zoostation (station nearest hotel)
FINISH: Wedding (neighborhood where friend's restaurant is)
ONE-WAY SCORE: 1000 (went wrong way on new Line, had to get off train, cross platform, board opposite train)
LUNCH: Subway station Wurst at Zoostation
PANHANDLER: Gave him some coins, he realized I spoke English, he spoke excellent English

27 June 2005

i'm leavin on a jet plane / don't know when i'll be back again (2)

[received 27 June 2005]

Dear Friend,

You may be surprise to receive this letter from me,since you dont know me personally, I am Peterson Mubah. The son of Dr Smith Mubah, Who was recently murdered in the land dispute in Zimbabwe.

I got your contact as i was searching for a reliable and reputable person to handle a very confidential business which involve a transfer of fund to a foreign account and i decided to write you. My late father was among the few black Zimbabwean opposition party rich farmers murdered by the agents of the ruling Government of president Robert mugabe,for his alleged support and sympathy for the Zimbabwean opposition party controlled by the white minority,

Before my father death,he had taken to johannesburg and deposited the sum of twenty five million united state dollars (US$25,000,000)with a security and financial company,The money right now is in (EUROPE), as if he forseen the looming danger in zimbabwe. The money was deposited in a box as
valuable items to avoid over taxed custom clearance.

This money was allocated for the purchase of new machinery and chemical product for Agro-allied farms and for establishment of new farms in lesotho and swaziland.This land problems arose when president Robert mugabe introduced a new land act that wholly affected the rich white farmers and some blacks vehemently condemned the "modus operandi"adopted by the government.

This result to rampant killings and mob action by the war veterans and some political Thugs,precisely more than three thousand( 3,000)people have so far been killed.Heads of government from the west, especially Britain and united states have voice their condemnation of Mugabe's plans.Subsequently, south Africa have development community(S.A.D.C)has continousy supported mugabe's new land act, it is against this background that my entire family who are
currently residing in South Africa have decided to ! transfer my father's wealth and south Africa's government seems to be playing along with them.I am face with the dilemma of investing this money in south Africa for fear of encountering the same experience in the future, since both countries have almost the same political history.

Moreso,the south African foreign exchange policy does not allow such investment,Hence i am seeking for(political asylum) AS a business person whom i entrusted my future and that of my family into his hands, i must let you know that this transaction is 100% risk free and the nature of your business does not necessarily matter.

For your assistance we are offering you 20% of the sum ,70% for me and my family,while 10% will be mapped out for any expenses that we may incurre during this transaction.We wish to invest our money on commecial properties based on your advice. Finally, i will demand for assurance that you will not sit on the money when it gets to your personally account or comp! any account in your country, If this proposal is accepted please confirm your interest by sending this above to

God Bless You,
Peterson Mubah

Vleeptron's Revenge for newspapers which do not print Bob's letters

Letters to the Editor
The Rocky Mountain News
[Denver Colorado]

To the Editor:

There are really no depths to which the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the "Drug Czar") will not dive to stay in power forever, increase its political influence, and push its pathetic, toxic, racist agenda.

Publicly exhibiting a mother and father grieving over the suicide of their teenage son ("Drug Czar blasted over pot story," 13 May) is a typical carnival side-show stunt by this wholly unaccountable agency. But the Terri Schiavo circus showed every cockroach in the White House that grieving and distraught families make excellent political kerosene to burn down any and all reasoned dialogue over law and policy.

Teen use of marijuana is unhealthy and inappropriate -- just as America has accepted, since ending its War on Beer in 1933, that alcohol is an adults-only choice.

But the Czar's exploitation of Christopher Skaggs' grieving parents was meant to fuel the Czar's ill-hidden agenda of handcuffing marijuana, in any tiny quantity, for any conceivable purpose, by any age group, to a lifelong criminal record and -- particularly for African-Americans, Hispanics and Native-Americans -- jail and prison.

Republican Czar or Democratic Czar, Clinton Czar or Bush Czar, the bipartisan achievement of the 30-year-old War on Drugs has turned the Land of the Free into the world's largest prison system. We have more prisoners than China, more prisoners than Russia, and the most powerful cog of this shameful machine is the War on Drugs.

Every consumer has learned from bitter experience to listen to scam artists with a skeptical grain of salt. Though this particular used-car lot sells its lemons and deathtraps from a White House address, the Czar's despicable recycling of the Skaggs' family tragedy deserves exactly the same scrutiny.

What do the Czar and his sleazeball underlings really want?

In what corners of private industry will ONDCP officials work after they leave the Czar's office, and how much more than their federal salaries will they earn off the War Without End which they shaped, waged and perpetuated? (For a web surfer or journalist, this is an easy one to research.)

And the most important question every citizen should ask: Does the Czar really give half a damn about "our precious children"? Or has the ONDCP always used our children as political hostages?

How many times a year do the Czar and his flunky scoundrels tell the American people, in barely disguised code: Do what we demand, pony up more tax money, give us more power, increase prison sentences, add dozens of new crimes, ignore all calls for sanity and reform -- or we'll kill this adorable little child?

Robert Merkin

Northampton MA

slaying the Mailer Dæmon: adventures in bouncebacked e-mail

Northampton MA

4 May 2005

COL James L. Pohl, USA
Fort Hood TX

Dear Col. Pohl:

Thank you for rejecting the guilty plea of PFC Lynndie England.

I was a soldier for two years during the Vietnam War. I did not leave with a positive impression of the Army justice system's protection of the rights of accused soldiers.

I have no special knowledge of this matter. But from my own experience as a soldier, I find it extraordinarily difficult to believe that these activities could have been exclusively the doings of low-level enlisted personnel. Either these systemic abuses accurately reflected the wishes of superior officers, or commanders had abandoned their responsibilities to a degree which, in my understanding of command, was clearly criminal.

How US Army soldiers treated prisoners at Abu Ghraib disgusts me. All those responsible have smeared excrement on the uniform I and all the American soldiers before me wore. Once American soldiers liberated concentration camps, and our uniform was a symbol around the world for safety, rescue and humane treatment. As Nazi Germany collapsed sixty years ago, terrified German civilians raced toward the American lines, and their instinct was correct -- a testament not only to the American soldier's character, but to his commanders and chain of command.

But railroading a few low-rank enlisted soldiers -- including one with legitimate questions of intellectual competence -- will not restore the Army's honor.

The trial over which you preside is a chance for Army justice to strive not for a whitewash, scapegoating and damage control, but for the truth and accountability.

Protecting PFC England's rights as an accused soldier is an important and courageous first step, and again, I thank you for insisting on it.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Merkin
US Army 1969 - 1971

26 June 2005

streamlined butt-reaming

I like this forfeiture without any evidence of crime
, without due process, and with putting the burden of proof that the money isn't drug money on the citizen rather than on the government. There's an elegance, a streamlined flavor to it. The government wants your money, the government takes your money, the government keeps your money.

Maybe you and your lawyer will eventually get lucky and get some of it back (and you give maybe a third or half of it to your lawyer). My guess is many or most lawyers experienced in forfeitures will just wisely advise vctims to just suck it up and forget about trying to get their money back.

To date to my knowledge, the most comprehensive mainstream journalism about police forfeiture in America is Karen Dillon's remarkable and terrifying Kansas City Star series, "To Protect and Collect." I recommend taking Diazepam (on prescription, please) before reading it.

When you've finished, or have read all you can stand to read, send an e-mail to Ms. Dillon and share your thoughts with her. Smack dab in the middle of this era of media-bashing, there's still remarkable old-fashioned public-service journalism going on, and the folks who do it need love, too, just like your kiddies and your puppies and kittens. Your e-mail might make her keep doing this kind of work, rather than leave for a 9-to-5 corporate public-relations job that pays a lot better.

Let's face it: Why would anyone travel with large sums of cash? They're all drug dealers. Particularly the blacks and the Hispanics. And the Asians. And the Hasidic Jews. Also keep an eye out on the Unitarians, there's something fishy about them.

Bob / Elmer

Pirate & Sticky Liquid Terrorism News, Weather,
Sports, Theatre & Opera from Vleeptron

(Now featuring 1 US government aluminum female breast!!!)

-------Original Message -----

Sent: 6/26/2005 4:22:38 AM
Subject: [DrugWar] Another citizen robbed by feds at airport

Posted on Thu, Jun. 23, 2005

Woman carrying $47K in bra at airport sues

Associated Press

BOSTON - A Quincy woman who apparently stuffed $46,950 in cash in her bra before trying to board a plane to Texas for plastic surgery has sued a federal agency, demanding the return of her money.

The money was seized from Ileana Valdez, 26, after a security check at a metal detector at Logan International Airport on Feb. 3. Valdez told authorities she was heading to Texas for plastic surgery on her buttocks and breasts.

"I don't know why she was carrying it (the cash) in her bra," said Boston lawyer Tony V. Blaize, who filed the suit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Boston on behalf of Valdez.

In her suit, Valdez said a male Drug Enforcement Administration agent told her she had a nice body and didn't need surgery - and then seized the cash, claiming it was drug money.

Valdez, a single mother said in her suit that she has no criminal record and earned the money by selling her Dorchester business and two parcels of property in Boston's Jamaica Plain section.

Anthony Pettigrew, a spokesman for the DEA in Boston, said he could not comment on the lawsuit. But he said federal asset forfeiture laws allow agents to seize suspected drug profits.

See 1 US Government Aluminum Female Breast!!! Here!!!


Last Updated: Saturday, 25 June, 2005, 21:36 GMT 22:36 UK
Curtains up on risque US statues
John Ashcroft speaking in front of the Spirit of Justice
John Ashcroft said the curtains were installed for "remodelling"
A pair of risque Art Deco statues at the US Justice Department have been quietly put back on show, three years after a mysterious cover-up.

Majesty of Justice and Spirit of Justice depict a partially nude man and a woman with one breast fully exposed.

The two sculptures, in the building's famous Great Hall, were covered during the tenure of former Attorney General John Ashcroft, a devout Christian.

A spokesman said new Attorney General Alberto Gonzales backed the unveiling.

But the decision to remove the curtains which covered the two statues was taken by an assistant attorney general, and not Mr Gonzales himself, the spokesman added.

Mr Gonzales "agreed with the recommendation", Kevin Madden said.

Photo favourite

The two statues, cast in aluminium and designed by renowned artist Paul Jennewein, have stood on opposite flanks of the stage in the Great Hall since the building opened in 1936.

Covering the statues with curtains cost the US government $8,000 (£4,400) in 2002.

Mr Ashcroft repeatedly played down suggestions that he ordered the statues to be covered.

But he was often pilloried by comedians and was forced to make a joke out of the issue on the David Letterman Show.

Before being covered, the statues offered rich pickings for press photographers working at the Justice Department, who often crouched on the floor to capture politicians in shot with an exposed aluminium breast.

Perhaps the most famous photograph of the statue is a 1986 photograph of Edwin Meese brandishing a copy of his report on pornography with Spirit of Justice clearly visible in the background.

25 June 2005

Dirty Blogger Laundry (NOT Disney Mouse & Duck underpants)

EFF is the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

I mentioned before that I spent four years in a Buddhist lamasery in Tibet learning amazing mystic powers.

I will now use my Amazing Mystic Powers to take a wild guess that you're reading this on one of them new-fangled computer gizmos, and that your computer gizmo is plugged into the cable or the phone line and connected to the Internet. Or Wi-Fi. Or maybe your computer gets to the Internet through the sink, who knows how these things work?

How'd I do, huh?

You probably would never walk out of your house or apartment without wearing clothes.

I've now come to the conclusion that you also should never turn on your computer or plug it into the Internet or an e-mail provider without joining the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Butt Nekkid on Sycamore Street at noon, surfing the Web without belonging to EFF -- expect much the same kind of trouble.

Here, you can surf some EFF stuff right here on Vleeptron.

Or ... you can turn the page.

Don't send e-mail complaints to me if you turned the page, didn't join EFF, and the Federal Internet Administration (a new division of Homeland Security under the reauthorized Patriot Act and the new No Nerd Left Behind Act) throws you and your Lhasa Apso into Internet Prison for six years.

EFF tried to warn you. But did you listen? Noooooooooooooooooooo ..........


EFF: Legal Guide for Bloggers

Version current as of June 8, 2005

Whether you're a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you've been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.

Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don't want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that's under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.

The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you're doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn't help - in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven't yet decided how it applies to bloggers.

But here's the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom.

To be clear, this guide isn't a substitute for, nor does it constitute, legal advice. Only an attorney who knows the details of your particular situation can provide the kind of advice you need if you're being threatened with a lawsuit. The goal here is to give you a basic roadmap to the legal issues you may confront as a blogger, to let you know you have rights, and to encourage you to blog freely with the knowledge that your legitimate speech is protected.

Please note that this guide applies to people living in the US. We don't have the expertise or resources to speak to other countries' legal traditions, but we'd like to work with those who do. If you know of a similar guide for your own jurisdiction or feel inspired to research and write one, please let us know. We can link to it here.

Table of Contents
or, see an index of all the questions »

Blogger Legal Liability Issues

The Overview of Legal Liability Issues FAQ briefly addresses some common legal issues that affect you as a publisher, especially situations where you may face legal claims or threats based on the information you published on your blog.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Intellectual Property addresses issues that arise when you publish material created by others on your blog.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Online Defamation Law provides an overview of defamation (libel) law, including a discussion of the constitutional and statutory privileges that may protect you.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Section 230 Protections discusses a powerful federal law that gives you, as a web host, protection against legal claims arising from hosting information written by third parties.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Privacy addresses the legal issues surrounding the privacy rights of people you blog about.

Bloggers As Journalists

The Bloggers' FAQ on the Reporter's Privilege is useful to bloggers who report news gathered from confidential sources.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Media Access can help bloggers who need to get access to public records and government meetings, as well as secure press passes to help with newsgathering.

Other Legal Issues for Bloggers

The Bloggers' FAQ on Election Law addresses the legal issues you may face blogging about political campaigns.

The Bloggers' FAQ on Labor Law addresses legal issues with workplace blogging, including union organizing, protections for political blogging away from the workplace, and whistle blowing.


Bloggers' FAQ - Section 230 Protections

The Bloggers' FAQ on Section 230 Protections discusses a powerful federal law that gives you, as a web host, protection against legal claims arising from hosting information written by third parties.

What is this "Section 230" thing anyway?

Section 230 refers to Section 230 of Title 47 of the United States Code (47 USC § 230). It was passed as part of the much-maligned Communication Decency Act of 1996. Many aspects of the CDA were unconstitutional restrictions of freedom of speech (and, with EFF'S help, struck down by the Supreme Court), but this section survived and has been a valuable defense for Internet intermediaries ever since.

What protection does Section 230 provide?

Section 230 says that "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider." This federal law preempts any state laws to the contrary: "[n]o cause of action may be brought and no liability may be imposed under any State or local law that is inconsistent with this section." The courts have repeatedly rejected attempts to limit the reach of Section 230 to "traditional" Internet service providers, instead treating many diverse entities as "interactive computer service providers."

How does Section 230 apply to bloggers?

Bloggers can be both a provider and a user of interactive computer services. Bloggers are users when they create and edit blogs through a service provider, and they are providers to the extent that they allow third parties to add comments or other material to their blogs.

Your readers' comments, entries written by guest bloggers, tips sent by email, and information provided to you through an RSS feed would all likely be considered information provided by another content provider. This would mean that you would not be held liable for defamatory statements contained in it. However, if you selected the third-party information yourself, no court has ruled whether this information would be considered "provided" to you. One court has limited Section 230 immunity to situations in which the originator "furnished it to the provider or user under circumstances in which a reasonable person...would conclude that the information was provided for publication on the Internet...."

So if you are actively going out and gathering data on your own, then republishing it on your blog, we cannot guarantee that Section 230 would shield you from liability. But we believe that Section 230 should cover information a blogger has selected from other blogs or elsewhere on the Internet, since the originator provided the information for publication to the world. However, no court has ruled on this.

Do I lose Section 230 immunity if I edit the content?

Courts have held that Section 230 prevents you from being held liable even if you exercise the usual prerogative of publishers to edit the material you publish. You may also delete entire posts. However, you may still be held responsible for information you provide in commentary or through editing. For example, if you edit the statement, "Fred is not a criminal" to remove the word "not," a court might find that you have sufficiently contributed to the content to take it as your own. Likewise, if you link to an article, but provide a defamatory comment with the link, you may not qualify for the immunity.

The courts have not clarified the line between acceptable editing and the point at which you become the "information content provider." To the extent that your edits or comment change the meaning of the information, and the new meaning is defamatory, you may lose the protection of Section 230.

Is Section 230 limited to defamation?

No. It has been used to protect intermediaries against claims of negligent misrepresentation, interference with business expectancy, breach of contract, intentional nuisance, violations of federal civil rights, and emotional distress. It protected against a state cause of action for violating a statute that forbids dealers in autographed sports items from misrepresenting those items as authentically autographed. It extends to unfair competition laws. It protected a library from being held liable for misuse of public funds, nuisance, and premises liability for providing computers allowing access to pornography.

Wow, is there anything Section 230 can't do?

Yes. It does not apply to federal criminal law, intellectual property law, and electronic communications privacy law.

What are some key Section 230 cases?

EFF has an archive of some of the key cases addressing Section 230.

A little dream to build my world upon

Dusty Springfield really should never have happened. A black American Soul, Rhythm & Blues and pop singer should have occupied the huge and explosively talented realm that Dusty Springfield -- a white Londoner born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien -- created and ruled.

I'm awfully glad wonderful things that make no sense whatsoever happen from time to time. English pop has a long and nearly universally consistent legacy of getting American originals wrong; the Brits love American music the way I love chess, sincerely, passionately, but usually pathetically. By law, and as punishment for what they almost always do with and to African-American music, white Brits should be restricted exclusively to listening.

Fortunately Dusty Springfield (she took the stage name in 1960) wasn't having any of my advice. From the far side of an ocean, Peggy Lee (another screwy miracle that in a rational world never should have happened) had done something deep to her. My wife just brought me back a dozen exquisite photographs of the beach shack Marconi built on Cape Cod to send the first radio signals across the Atlantic to England; that's the technology Peggy Lee used to do weird and amazing things to
Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien while she worried and struggled against a Catholic school full of uncomprehending nuns.

A ghastly, interminable, ridiculous, stupid war made Dusty Springfield vanish almost overnight and to the point of certifiably Forgotten. War's brutal violence very rapidly and very violently skews and contaminates music, literature, the visual arts, and suddenly Dusty Springfield's unique kind of music lost its vast audience.

I love so much of the music that displaced her, I have no grudge about history's bad car wreck that killed her career and thrust Jimi Hendrix out of every speaker on the planet. The fact is, Earth needed Jimi Hendrix at that instant more than it needed Dusty Springfield. I like ice cream trucks and I like fire trucks, but sometimes you need a fire truck very badly and in a huge hurry, and you have utterly no use for the ice cream truck -- while the house is burning down, it's jarring even to be asked, "Don't you like ice cream anymore? You used to love the sound of the ice cream truck so much."

If the fire truck gets there soon enough and does its job well enough, maybe much later, the ice cream truck can come back and make people happy again. No guarantees. War leaves a big mess and permanent scars on music. Some ice cream trucks sell marijuana and crack these days; before Vietnam I don't think any ice cream trucks sold marijuana, heroin and crack. The Vietnam War sent a lot of people home with a big demand for heroin and a healthy, lusty love for marijuana.

The intersection of Dusty Springfield and Peggy Lee goes beyond childhood radio magic. The Vietnam War was bigger than Dusty Springfield's enormous popularity; the soulful and harmonious art she'd perfected was simply too fragile to survive the ghastly public horror at years of genocidal B-52 raids over Hanoi and Cambodia.

But Peggy Lee had already sung her way through decades and many changes in public taste; she seems spontaneously to have enjoyed surviving and growing beyond these periodic worlds turned upside-down. Eventually both Dusty Springfield and Peggy Lee found themselves working with and singing the songs of a very young Randy Newman.

The Newman-Lee album isn't one big festival of group hugs and musical success. It radiates with tension, frustration and misunderstanding.

But there are several remarkable songs -- they sound very much like a teenager discovering quite by accident that one of his grandmothers loves to commit middle-of-the-night armed robberies of gas stations and convenience stores just as much as he does, and she's even better at planning the getaways than he is.

There are clearly moments on their collaboration when they must have been gazing at one another in perfect bliss, rapture and astonishment. And then, as thieves will, the thieves fall out, they drift off the narrow but beautiful wavelength.

But you will believe Peggy Lee understands nihilism, exposed-nerve alienation and social disgust quite perfectly, as if they are not new thoughts to her, as if she had only been waiting for just the right nihilistic, socially horrifying songs. The Gershwins and Cole Porter didn't write songs like that. But by waiting patiently, eventually she found herself in a studio with Randy Newman.

She's not just there for the rich, new musicality; you can hear her smiling with great satisfaction to sing Newman's strange, angry, even perverse poems.

Then it was Dusty Springfield's turn, and though both albums are precious, the Dusty Springfield-Randy Newman collaboration was far more successful, the wavelengths were locked tight on almost every track.

I think Newman stretched more and wrote far more with this particular singer in mind; he was determined to weave her a lot of songs that fit her unique musical skill and emotional sensibility. As always, Newman is diving to the bottom of the heart's abyss, but there's no wickedness or nihilism or perversity. No one had sung about loneliness and heartache and lost love so wrenchingly since Billie Holiday's "Good Morning, Heartache."

Just One Smile
by Randy Newman
(from "Dusty in Memphis")

Can't I cry a little bit?
There's nobody to notice it
Can't I cry if I want to? No one cares

Why can't I pretend
That you'll love me again?
All I had has been taken from me
Now I cry tears that never become me

Just one smile
Means forgiving
Just one kiss
The hurt's all gone
Just one smile to make my life worth living
A little dream to build my world upon

How I wish I could say
All the things I want to say
If some way, you could see what's in my heart
Oh, baby

I don't ask for much
A look, a smile, a touch
Try to forget
Lord knows, I'm trying
It's so hard to forget
When your whole world, your whole world is dying

Just one smile
Means forgiving
Just one kiss
The hurt's all gone
Just one smile to make my life worth living
A little dream to build my world upon

Just one smile
Please forgiving
Just one kiss
Hurt's all gone
Just one smile to make my life worth living
A little dream to build my world upon
Just one smile

Dusty Springfield didn't vanish, her audience did. They were, en masse, ashamed to be moved by beautiful love songs during a psychopathic, racist war. Now it was Jimi Hendrix' turn; the audience found him. He was a veteran of the 101st Airborne Division, a volunteer gig that required him to leap out of airplanes four or five times a week. He began playing professionally in a band that played NCO clubs at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

The Army was a unique musical education. In "Machine Gun," his guitar fires off ratatatatat machine gun bursts at the audience, and what is he singing about? The torso of men perforated by machine guns? Or the souls of men perforated by doomed drunken car-accident love? Love in the time of Cholera, love in the time of a stupid, interminable, racist, genocidal war -- and yet we need love even more and even more intensely at such times. People are trying to kill us, we desperately need to make babies.

Machine Gun
Jimi Hendrix (from "Band of Gypsys")

Machine gun
Tearin' my body all apart
Machine gun, yeah
Tearin' my body all apart
Evil man make me kill you
Evil man make you kill me
Evil man make me kill you
Even though we're only famlies apart
Well, I pick up my axe and fight like a farmer
You know what I mean?
Weh, hey, and your bullets keep knockin' me down
Hey, I pick up my axe an' fight like a farmer, now
Yeah, but you still blast me down to the ground
The same way you shoot me baby
You'll be goin' just the same, three times the pain
And with your own self to blame, machine gun!

I ain't afraid of your bullets no more, baby
I ain't afraid no more
After awhile, your, your cheap talk won't even cause me pain
So let your bullets fly like rain
'Cause I know all the time you're wrong, baby
And you'll be goin' just the same
Machine gun, tearin' my family apart
Hey yeah, alright, tearin' my family apart

The War ended. The fire trucks went away and the ice cream trucks -- selling heroin now -- came back. The audience embraced other new things, among them a band young enough to be Dusty Springfield's sons: The Pet Shop Boys. I have little use for them. But as kids, they'd suckled at Dusty Springfield's breast the way she'd suckled at Peggy Lee's.

Forgotten, deserted more than a decade earlier by her audience, silent for years. This never should have happened, either. But the world just isn't rational. And Dusty Springfield was just too explosively talented.

Upon returning to California in 1987, Springfield was contacted to collaborate with techno-pop innovators the Pet Shop Boys on a duet titled "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" The single was a global blockbuster, peaking at number two in both the U.S. and the U.K., and it introduced her to a new generation of listeners; Pet Shop Boys Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe also agreed to produce a handful of tracks for 1990's Reputation, which became Springfield's best-selling new album since her '60s-era peak. The follow-up, 1995's country-influenced A Very Fine Love, was recorded in Nashville; during sessions for the album, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and after months of radiation therapy the illness was believed to be in remission. By the summer of 1996, however, the cancer had returned, and on March 2, 1999, Springfield died at the age of 59; just ten days later, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide


Breast Cancer Action Nova Scotia (Canada)

Dusty Springfield --- Vocalist ---- died of breast cancer today
Posted By: Kat
on Wednesday, 3 March 1999, at 12:11 p.m.

Maybe its because I sing for a living or maybe its just because I remember her music and loved it, but this hit me so hard when I heard it on the news.

God I hate this disease and how it hurts so many people.