Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sports As Metaphor

Fingers of fate

(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times/December 25, 2009)
Cleveland's Jamario Moon, LeBron James and Mo Williams watch foam fingers fly around the court as Lakers fans protest a technical foul against their team in the fourth quarter Friday.

Some in the Staples Center crowd litter the court with souvenir foam fingers and plastic bottles late in the Christmas Day game.

And on X-mess, for gawd's sake! Can we draw any conclusion at all from this? Is it more than the drunken/drugged & privileged being rowdy? Can we hope the new yr. will bring more hate, pain, rage, anger, fear, & nasty-to-violent rudeness? Obviously we're pulling for it, but is it grasping at straws to give weight to this?

Nothing As Cliched As Surfing Santas Here, But ...

Slowest news day of the yr.* Even tomorrow (Sun. the 27th, if you're reading this in the far future) will probably have more news/media activity, from the Sabbath gasbags & anticipation of something (possibly) happening next wk. So:
And another Seasonal favorite.

*Setting aside the utterly predictable & inane foaming about the increasingly absurd story of the true believer/banker's son who set his skivvies (& the contents thereof) on fire for Allah.

OK, We Decided Not To Go W/ Nigerian Email Jokes. Then ...

The terror suspect who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane is the son of a Nigerian banker who alerted U.S. authorities to his "extreme religious views" months ago, it was reported Saturday.

Read more:

Airline suspect is Nigeria banker's son | Reuters

... events overtook us.

He's No Fun ...

Max Rossi/Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI arriving to offer Mass at St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Thursday night. The pope began the observance two hours earlier than on any Christmas Eve in recent memory.

Perhaps the 82-yr. old pontiff was in a hurry to get to the Olive Garden for the senior special.

At least the Pope finished his ritual incantation, unlike another prominent resident of Rome.

Yr. In Pics (Per NYT)

Lest we forget. Or a reminder of what & why we should forget.

Terrorist Explosive Attempt Party

A guy can't leave the Internet for a bit of wassailing, etc., w/o all hell breaking loose.

What the hell's next?

26 December: Boxing Day; Kwanzaa Begins; Prexies Ford, Truman Die; Blizzard of '47; Tsunami of '04; More Murder & Politics: It's As If Christmas Never Happened!

Today is Saturday, Dec. 26th, the 360th day of 2009. There are five days left in the year. Kwanzaa begins today.
This is Boxing Day. UPI Almanac.Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 26, 1799, former President George Washington was eulogized by Col. Henry Lee as "first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen."
On this date:
In 1776, the British suffered a major defeat in the Battle of Trenton during the Revolutionary War.
In 1865, James H. Nason received a patent for a coffee percolator.
In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American boxer to win the world heavyweight championship as he defeated Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia. (Johnson's victory sparked a search for a "great white hope" who would reclaim the title; Jess Willard accomplished the feat in 1915.)
In 1909, illustrator Frederic Remington died in Ridgefield, Conn., at age 48.
In 1917, during World War I, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation authorizing the government to take over operation of the nation's railroads.
In 1941, Winston Churchill became the first British prime minister to address a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress.
In 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, the embattled U.S. 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, was relieved by units of the 4th Armored Division.
In 1947, heavy snow blanketed the Northeast, burying New York City under 26.4 inches of snow in 16 hours; the severe weather was blamed for some 80 deaths.
In 1966, the first Kwanzaa was celebrated.
In 1972, the 33rd president of the United States, Harry S. Truman, died in Kansas City, Mo., at age 88.
In 1985, zoologist Dian Fossey was found murdered in Rwanda.
In 1996, 6-year-old beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was found beaten and strangled in the basement of her family's home in Boulder, Colo. (To date, the slaying remains unsolved, despite a widely publicized "confession" by John Mark Karr.)
In 1997, badly battered South Korean financial markets surged after the International Monetary Fund and the Group of Seven countries agreed on 10 billion dollar emergency loans to Seoul.
In 1998, President Clinton, in his weekly radio address, urged Congress to lower the blood-alcohol limit for drunken driving nationwide to .08 percent.
In 1999, the crew of space shuttle Discovery packed up its tools and prepared to return home after an eight-day mission of repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope that NASA declared a success. Alfonso Portillo, a populist lawyer, scored a resounding victory in Guatemala's first peacetime presidential elections in nearly 40 years.
In 2002, it was announced that West Virginia resident Jack Whittaker had won the $314.9 million Powerball lottery jackpot, at that time a record prize. Israeli soldiers killed seven Palestinians in West Bank raids and reimposed a curfew on Bethlehem after briefly withdrawing over Christmas.
In 2003, an earthquake struck the historic Iranian city of Bam, killing at least 26,000 people. Three snowboarders were killed in an avalanche in Provo Canyon, Utah. [Equivalence of wog & snowboarder lives noted, AP. — Ed.]
In 2004, more than 200,000 people, mostly in southern Asia, were killed by a tsunami triggered by a powerful earthquake beneath the Indian Ocean.
An unmanned cargo ship docked at the international space station, ending a shortage that forced astronauts to ration supplies. Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts broke Dan Marino's single-season touchdown pass record when he threw his 48th and 49th of the season against San Diego. (The Colts defeated San Diego in overtime, 34-31.) Reggie White, one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, died in North Carolina at age 43.
In 2006, former President Gerald R. Ford, who took over the White House after Richard Nixon resigned over the Watergate scandal, died in Rancho Mirage, California, at age 93. Iraq's highest court rejected Saddam Hussein's appeal of his conviction and death sentence and said the former president should be hanged within 30 days. (Saddam was hanged on December 30th, 2006.)
In 2007, six people were found dead at a rural property east of Seattle; the property owners' daughter and her boyfriend were arrested. (Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe face charges of aggravated first-degree murder in the shootings of three generations of Anderson's family.) Francesca Lewis, the sole survivor of a plane crash in Panama, was reunited with her family after rescue workers brought the 12-year-old American girl out of a remote mountain area.
In 2008, Caroline Kennedy emerged from weeks of near-silence about her bid for a New York Senate seat; in an interview with The Associated Press and NY1 television, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy said she felt compelled to answer the call to service issued by her father a generation earlier. (Kennedy later dropped her bid; Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed by New York Gov. David Paterson.)
Today's Birthdays: Actor Donald Moffat is 79. Actor Caroll Spinney (Big Bird on "Sesame Street") is 76. R&B singer Abdul "Duke" Fakir (The Four Tops) is 74. Record producer Phil Spector is 70. "America's Most Wanted" host John Walsh is 64. Country musician Bob Carpenter (The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) is 63. Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk is 62. All-Star baseball player Chris Chambliss is 61. Baseball Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith is 55. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., is 54. Humorist David Sedaris is 53. Rock musician James Kottak (The Scorpions) is 47. Country musician Brian Westrum (Sons of the Desert) is 47. Rock musician Lars Ulrich (Metallica) is 46. Actress Nadia Dajani is 44. Rock musician J is 42. Country singer Audrey Wiggins is 42. Rock musician Peter Klett (Candlebox) is 40. Rock singer James Mercer (The Shins; Flake) is 39. Actor-singer Jared Leto is 38. Rock singer Chris Daughtry is 30.
And The Dead: Frederick II, Holy Roman emperor (1194); Thomas Gray, poet (1716); Charles Babbage, mathematician (1791); George Dewey, admiral (1837) ["Fire when ready, Gridley!" — Ed.]; Henry Miller, author (1891); Mao Zedong, founder, People's Republic of China (1893); Richard Widmark, portrayer of psychos (1914);
Steve Allen, comedian, actor, author (1921); Alan King, comedian (1927); and dogsled racer Susan Butcher (1954).
Today In Entertainment History December 26
In 1944, Tennessee Williams' play "The Glass Menagerie" was first performed publicly in Chicago.
In 1955, Decca Records released "See You Later, Alligator" by Bill Haley and the Comets.
In 1957, Elvis Presley got a temporary draft deferment so he could finish the movie "King Creole." The Ingmar Bergman film "Wild Strawberries," starring Victor Sjostrom, opened in Sweden.
In 1963, Capitol Records released the single "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by The Beatles, which became the band's first No. 1 hit in the US.
In 1967, "Magical Mystery Tour," the Beatles' critically drubbed one-hour special, aired on BBC-1 television.
In 1968, Led Zeppelin played its first US show, opening for Vanilla Fudge.
In 1973, "The Exorcist" made its premiere nationwide.
In 1974, comedian Jack Benny died. He was 80.
In 1999, musician Curtis Mayfield died outside Atlanta, in Roswell, Ga., at the age of 57.
In 2007, Joe Dolan, one of Ireland's first pop music stars, died in suburban Dublin at age 68.
Thought for Today: "Christmas has come and gone, and I — to speak selfishly — am glad of it. The season always gives me the blues in spite of myself, though I manage to get a good deal of pleasure from thinking of the multitudes of happy kids in various parts of the world." — Edwin Arlington Robinson, American poet (1869-1935).

Friday, December 25, 2009

Actual Events of 25 December (No Mythology or Legendary Bullshit)

Today is Friday, December 25th, the 359th day of 2009. There are six days left in the year. This is Christmas Day. The UPI Almanac.Today's Highlight in History:
In 1818, "Silent Night," written by Franz Gruber and Father Joseph Mohr, was performed for the first time, at the Church of St. Nikolaus in Oberndorf, Austria.
On this date:
In about 3 B.C., according to Christian belief, Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem. Calendar miscalculations of the time make it impossible to be certain of the year.
In 336, the first recorded celebration of Christmas on December 25th took place in Rome.
In 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned king of England.
In 1776, General George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey.
In 1868, President Andrew Johnson granted an unconditional pardon to all persons involved in the Southern rebellion that resulted in the Civil War. ["Southern rebellion." Har-de-har-har. — Ed.]
In 1926, Hirohito became emperor of Japan, succeeding his father, Emperor Yoshihito. (Hirohito was formally enthroned almost two years later.)
In 1941, Japan announced the surrender of the British-Canadian garrison at Hong Kong.
In 1946, comedian W.C. Fields died in Pasadena, California, at age 66. [We don't believe he died in Pasadena. We think it was in the house later owned by Lily Tomlin in Laughlin Park, a gated community in East Hollywood/Los Feliz. And the AP can't get the age right either; see below. — Ed.]
In 1989, ousted Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife, Elena, were executed following a popular uprising.
In 1991, Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev went on television to announce his resignation as the eighth and final leader of a communist superpower that had already gone out of existence.
In 1997, Richard Bliss, a field technician for Qualcomm Incorporated accused of spying in Russia, arrived in San Diego after Russian authorities were persuaded to let him return home. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld announced plans to fold his highly successful NBC sitcom "Seinfeld" at the end of the current season.
In 1998, British mogul Richard Branson, American millionaire Steve Fossett and Ten Lindstrand of Sweden gave up their attempt to make the first non-stop, round-the-world balloon flight seven days into their journey, ditching off Hawaii.
In 2002, Pope John Paul II delivered a Christmas message in which he said war had to be and could be avoided even in a world made fearful by terrorism. A major storm made for a white Christmas in parts of the U.S.; the severe weather ultimately was blamed for some two dozen deaths. Katie Hnida became the first woman to play in a Division I-A football game when she attempted an extra point following a New Mexico touchdown in the Las Vegas Bowl. (Hnida, a walk-on junior, had her kick blocked but by then she had already made history in the 27-13 loss to UCLA.)
In 2003, sixteen people were killed by mudslides that swept over campgrounds in California's San Bernardino Valley. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf survived a second assassination bid in 11 days, but 16 other people, including three suicide bombers, were killed. A plane crashed after taking off from Benin, killing at least 130 of the 161 people aboard. Europe's tiny Mars lander, the Beagle 2, was supposed to go into orbit around the Red Planet, but the craft was lost.
In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI used his Christmas Day address to call for a peaceful resolution of conflicts worldwide and appealed for greater caring of [sic] the poor, the exploited and all who suffer.
In 2007, a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo escaped her enclosure and killed a park visitor; two brothers also were mauled, but survived. Russia's military successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads. A ruptured gasoline pipeline exploded near Nigeria's main city of Lagos, killing at least 40 people.
Dead Christmas Babies: Clara Barton, American Red Cross founder (1821); Helena Rubinstein, cosmetics executive (1870); Maurice Utrillo, painter (1883); Conrad Hilton, hotelier (1887); Robert L. Ripley, cartoonist (1893); Humphrey Bogart, actor (1899); Cab Calloway, band leader (1907); Anwar al-Sadat, political leader, Egyptian president (1918).
Hollywood X-Mess:
In 1946, actor W.C. Fields died. He was 67. [How old? — Ed.]
Fifty years ago, in 1959, future Beatles drummer Ringo Starr got his first set of drums as a Christmas present. He was working as an apprentice engineer at the time.
In 1964, George Harrison's girlfriend, Patti Boyd, was attacked by jealous female fans at a Beatles show in London.
In 1968, singer-guitarist Eric Bloom joined Blue Öyster Cult. [Except they were known as the Soft White Underbelly in 1968. — Ed.]
In 1976, The Eagles' album "Hotel California" went platinum.
In 1977, comedian Charlie Chaplin died in Switzerland at age 88.
In 1978, Public Image Limited performed for the first time in London.
In 1981, the J. Geils Band performed a Christmas concert for the inmates at a correction center near Boston. A few days later, their "Freeze Frame" album went gold.
In 1991, Willie Nelson's 33-year-old son Billy was found dead at his home in suburban Nashville. A medical examiner ruled the death a suicide by hanging. "The Prince of Tides," directed by Barbra Streisand, opened nationwide.
In 1995, entertainer Dean Martin died of respiratory failure at his home in Beverly Hills, California. He was 78.
In 1997, comedian Jerry Seinfeld announced plans to fold his highly successful NBC sitcom "Seinfeld" at the end of the current season.
In 1998, guitarist Bryan MacLean of Love died of a heart attack in Los Angeles. He was 52.
In 1999, comedian Jerry Seinfeld married public relations executive Jessica Sklar in New York.
In 2006, James Brown, the "Godfather of Soul," died of heart failure in Atlanta, Georgia, at age 73.
Thought for Today: "My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?" — Bob Hope, American comedian (1903-2003).

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Updates Updated

More creeping gummint/corporate entity cooperation.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, which monitors the North American airspace, on Thursday set up an official "Santa Tracker" on its website ( in seven languages to find the current location and upcoming stops of Santa and his storied reindeer.

Internet giant Google, which recently began powering the mapping initiative, allowed Santa enthusiasts to locate the sleigh using its geographic information program Google Earth and provided 3-D video of Kris Kringle flying over major city hubs like Sydney.

At 14:35 GMT, the fat man in the red outfit was in Pyongyang, capital of the North Korean hermit state, according to NORAD's radars.

A Warning

And some cheer from Marvin & Johnny.

And To All A "Good Night, Already!"

Guitar Gawd Passeth

From Mr. Wahl & his email, we see that James Gurley joined the parade of meat on Sunday.
Gurley's spellbinding finger-picking on the electric guitar "proved to be the missing component," according to a biography on the band's website, and he became the center of Big Brother's free-form style.

Many of his peers consider Gurley the fountainhead of psychedelic guitar-playing, which "gets improvisational and goes out to this place where the beat is assumed," Barry Melton, lead guitarist for Country Joe & the Fish, told Guitar Player magazine in 1997.

"The music is kind of out there in space, and James Gurley was the first man in space! He's the Yuri Gagarin of psychedelic guitar," Melton said.

Gurley "was the star of Big Brother," the group's drummer, Dave Getz, said on the band's website, "and then Janis came along."
Screwed by a woman. Again!
Mr. Wahl advises he likes this'n, & adds: "... but I still can't tell if it's the greatest worst ever or worst greatest ever guitar solo."

Stolen Goods For The Post-Solstice Period

Continuing a tribute (of sorts) to Great American Jack Webb & jumping on the Bandwagon of Christmas Crap, we point your X-mess-exhausted asses to "Christmas Dragnet," from Stan Freberg, because we are too lazy to figure out embedding mp3s here. (There's more than just sloth going on, it's psychological, but who the fuck wants mp3s, anyway? We can barely hear real, full-spectrum, relatively un-compressed recordings as is.)

24 December: KKK Formed; Good Day To Highjack; First DJ Rocks It; Caruso Quits; Johnny Ace Shoots It; Lemmy Spawned; Lots Of Death

Today is Thursday, Dec. 24, the 358th day of 2009. There are seven days left in the year. This is Christmas Eve.Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 24, 1809, legendary American frontiersman Christopher "Kit" Carson was born in Madison County, Ky.
On this date:
In 1524, Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama, who had discovered a sea route around Africa to India, died in Cochin, India.
In 1814, the War of 1812 officially ended as the United States and Britain signed the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium.
In 1851, fire devastated the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroying about 35,000 volumes.
In 1865, several veterans of the Confederate Army formed a private social club in Pulaski, Tenn., called the Ku Klux Klan.
In 1906, Canadian physicist Reginald A. Fessenden became the first person to broadcast a music program over radio, from Brant Rock, Mass.
In 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower supreme commander of Allied forces as part of Operation Overlord.
In 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts, orbiting the moon, read passages from the Old Testament Book of Genesis during a Christmas Eve telecast.
Audio LinkAstronaut Frank Borman
In 1980, Americans remembered the U.S. hostages in Iran by burning candles or shining lights for 417 seconds — one second for each day of captivity.
In 1989, ousted Panamanian ruler Manuel Noriega, who had succeeded in eluding U.S. forces, took refuge at the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Panama City.
In 1992, President George H.W. Bush pardoned former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and five others in the Iran-Contra scandal.
In 1993, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, who blended Christian and psychiatric principles into a message of "positive thinking," died in Pawling, N.Y., at age 95.
In 1994, militants hijacked an Air France Airbus A-300 at the Algiers airport; three passengers were slain during the siege before all four hijackers were killed by French commandos in Marseille two days later.
In 1997, Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, the aging revolutionary known as Carlos the Jackal, was sentenced by a French court to life in prison for the 1975 murders of two French investigators and a Lebanese national.
In 1998, ignoring NATO warnings, Serb tanks and troops struck an ethnic Albanian stronghold in Kosovo. Most of California's citrus crop was considered ruined after three straight nights of freezing cold.
In 1999, five hijackers seized an Indian Airlines jet, forcing the aircraft on a journey across South Asia and into the Middle East. (The eight-day ordeal resulted in the death of one passenger and India's release of three jailed pro-Kashmir militants in exchange for the rest of the hostages.)
In 2002, Laci Peterson was reported missing from her Modesto, Calif., home, by her husband, Scott, who was later convicted of murdering her and their unborn son. Saddam Hussein said in an address read on television that Iraqis were ready to fight a holy war against the United States. Chinese pro-democracy activist Xu Wenli was released from a prison in Beijing and flown to the United States.
In 2003, a roadside bomb exploded north of Baghdad, killing three U.S. soldiers in the deadliest attack on Americans to that time following Saddam Hussein's capture. Talk show host David Letterman visited U.S. troops in Baghdad. Air France canceled several flights to the United States after U.S. officials passed on what were termed "credible" security threats.
In 2004, bearing gifts of praise and encouragement, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld paid a surprise Christmas Eve visit to U.S. troops in some of the most dangerous areas of Iraq. Afghan President Hamid Karzai swore in a new cabinet. The international Cassini spacecraft launched a probe on a three-week free-fall toward Saturn's mysterious moon Titan.
In 2006, Ethiopia sent fighter jets into Somalia and bombed several towns in a dramatic attack on Somalia's powerful Islamic movement; Ethiopia's prime minister said his country had been "forced to enter a war."
In 2007, President Bush made Christmas Eve calls to 10 U.S. troops serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and other spots around the world, thanking them for their sacrifice and wishing them a happy holiday. French news cameraman Gwen Le Gouil, abducted by Somali gunmen Dec. 16 outside the town of Bossaso, was released.
In 2008, a man dressed in a Santa Claus suit shot his way into the Covina, Calif., home of his former in-laws and set it on fire, killing nine people (the attacker, identified as Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, committed suicide the next day). The Federal Reserve granted a request by the financing arm of General Motors Corp. to tap the government's $700 billion rescue fund, bolstering the automaker's ability to survive. Army Capt. Moussa Camara, the leader of a coup in Guinea, entered the country's capital, hours after saying his group would hold power until elections in two years. Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter died in London at age 78.
Today's Birthdays: Songwriter-bandleader Dave Bartholomew is 89. Author Mary Higgins Clark is 82. Federal health administrator Anthony S. Fauci is 69. Recording company executive Mike Curb is 65. Rock singer-musician Lemmy (Motorhead) is 64. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., is 63. Actor Grand L. Bush is 54. Actor Clarence Gilyard is 54. Actress Stephanie Hodge is 53. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is 52. Rock musician Ian Burden (The Human League) is 52. Actor Anil Kapoor is 50. Actor Wade Williams is 48. Designer Kate Spade is 47. Rock singer Mary Ramsey (10,000 Maniacs) is 46. Actor Mark Valley is 45. Actor Diedrich Bader is 43. Actor Amaury Nolasco is 39. Singer Ricky Martin is 38. Author Stephenie Meyer ("Twilight") is 36. "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest is 35.
Dead People Who Came to Life on This Date: James Prescott Joule, physicist (1818); Juan Ramón Jiménez, lyric poet (1881); Howard Hughes, business executive (1905); Ava Gardner, actress (1922).
Today In Entertainment History December 24
In 1871, Giuseppe Verdi's opera "Aida" had its world premiere in Cairo, Egypt, to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal.
In 1908, citing morality concerns, New York Mayor George B. McClellan Jr. temporarily closed the city's movie theaters. (The action gave rise to creation of a motion picture censorship board.)
In 1920, Enrico Caruso gave his last public performance, at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
In 1951, Gian Carlo Menotti's "Amahl and the Night Visitors," the first opera written specifically for television, was first broadcast by NBC.
In 1954, singer Johnny Ace shot himself and died while playing Russian roulette backstage at a show in Houston. His song "Pledging My Love" became a hit the next year.
In 1961, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by The Tokens became the first African song to reach No. 1 on the American pop charts.
In 1965, The Beatles earned a gold record for the album "Rubber Soul," just two-and-a-half weeks after it was released.
In 1972, police in Miami cut short a concert by Manfred Mann and his Earth Band. Fans rioted for about two hours while the band members hid in a dressing room.
In 1973, Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers was arrested in Visalia, California, for marijuana possession.
In 1978, Bjorn Ulvaeus and Agnetha Faltskog of ABBA separated after seven years of marriage.
In 1984, actor Peter Lawford died. He was 61.
In 1990, actors Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman got married in Colorado. They had met while filming "Days of Thunder." They've since divorced.
In 1992, former Doobie Brothers percussionist Bobby LaKind died after a long battle with cancer. He was 47.
In 1997, the Gin Blossoms announced their breakup. Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune died in suburban Tokyo at age 77.
In 2006, broadcasting pioneer Frank Stanton, CBS president for 26 years, died in Boston at age 98.
In 2008, Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter died in London at age 78.
Thought for Today: "Christmas is the day that holds all time together." — Alexander Smith, Scottish poet and essayist (1830-1867).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More Christmas Crap, From The King Of Shit

Snowy Soul Santa
Suffering For Your Sins Santa
Halos & Crowns
Are we in the fucking mood yet?

23 December: Jack Webb Cut Down W/in Yrs. Of His Prime; LBJ Meets Pope; Joseph Smith Junior Born; Tojo Hanged; Transistor Demonstrated; Raiders Robbed!

Today is Wednesday, Dec. 23, the 357th day of 2009. There are eight days left in the year. The UPI Almanac.Today's Highlight in History:
On Dec. 23, 1968, 82 crew members of the U.S. intelligence ship Pueblo were released by North Korea, 11 months after they had been captured.

Audio LinkUSS Pueblo commander Lloyd Bucher
Audio LinkSecretary of State Dean Rusk
On this date:
In 1620, construction began of the first permanent European settlement in New England, one week after the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth harbor in present day Massachusetts.
In 1783, George Washington resigned as commander in chief of the Continental Army and retired to his home at Mount Vernon, Va.
In 1788, Maryland passed an act to cede an area "not exceeding ten miles square" for the seat of the national government; about two-thirds of the area became the District of Columbia.
In 1805, Joseph Smith Junior, principal founder of the Mormon religious movement, was born in Sharon, Vermont.
In 1823, the poem "Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas" was published anonymously in the Troy (N.Y.) Sentinel; the verse, more popularly known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," was later attributed to Clement C. Moore.
In 1893, the Engelbert Humperdinck opera "Haensel und Gretel" was first performed, in Weimar, Germany.
In 1913, the U.S. Federal Reserve System was established.
In 1941, American forces on Wake Island surrendered to the Japanese.
In 1947, scientists at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey demonstrated their just-invented point-contact transistor, which paved the way to a new era of miniaturized electronics.
In 1948, former Japanese premier Hideki Tojo and six other Japanese war leaders were executed in Tokyo.
In 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson, on his way home from a visit to Southeast Asia, held an unprecedented meeting with Pope Paul VI at the Vatican.
In 1972, the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Oakland Raiders 13-7 in an NFL playoff game on a last-second touchdown catch by Franco Harris that was dubbed the "immaculate reception."
[Illegal, "immaculate," whatever you say, ref. — Ed.]
In 1975, Richard S. Welch, the Central Intelligence Agency station chief in Athens, Greece, was shot and killed outside his home by the militant group November 17.
In 1986, the experimental airplane Voyager, piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, completed the first nonstop, non-refueled, round-the-world flight as it landed safely at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
In 1987, Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme, serving a life sentence for the attempted assassination of President Ford in 1975, escaped from the Alderson Federal Prison for Women in West Virginia. (She was recaptured two days later.)
In 1997, a jury in Denver convicted Terry Nichols of involuntary manslaughter and conspiracy for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing, declining to find him guilty of murder. Woody Allen married Soon-Yi Previn in a small ceremony in Venice, Italy.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton pardoned Freddie Meeks, 80, a black sailor court-martialed for mutiny during World War II after he and other sailors refused to load live ammunition following a deadly explosion at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine near San Francisco that had claimed more than 300 lives. (Meeks died in 2003 at age 83.) The Nasdaq composite index briefly crossed 4,000 and closed at a record high for the 58th time in 1999.
In 2002, Senate Republicans unanimously elected Bill Frist to succeed Trent Lott as their leader in the next Congress. A passenger plane crashed in central Iran during a flight from Turkey, killing 45 people, mostly from Ukraine.
In 2003, the government announced the first suspected case of mad cow disease in United States. A jury in Chesapeake, Va., sentenced teen sniper Lee Boyd Malvo to life in prison, sparing him the death penalty.
In 2004, Democrat Christine Gregoire won the Washington governor's race by 130 votes out of 2.9 million ballots cast, according to final recount results announced from Seattle's King County. Former Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland pleaded guilty to a corruption charge (he was later sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison — he served 10 months). Assailants claiming to be members of a revolutionary group opposed to the death penalty ambushed a bus in Honduras, killing 28 people, including six children. Two men were convicted in Houston for their role in a smuggling attempt that resulted in the deaths of 19 illegal immigrants crammed in a tractor-trailer. (Fredy Giovanni Garcia-Tobar was later sentenced to 15 years in prison; Victor Jesus Rodriguez, 20 years and seven months.)
In 2006, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment; Iran immediately rejected the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held the first Israeli-Palestinian summit in 22 months. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger broke his leg while skiing with his family in Sun Valley, Idaho.
In 2008, Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villehuchet, founder of an investment fund that lost $1.4 billion in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, was discovered dead after committing suicide at his Madison Avenue office. A military-led group seized control of the airwaves in Guinea and declared a coup after the death of the country's longtime dictator, Lansana Conte.
Today's Birthdays: Actor Gerald S. O'Loughlin is 88. Actor Ronnie Schell is 78. Emperor Akihito of Japan is 76. Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Hornung is 74. Actor Frederic Forrest is 73. Actor James Stacy is 73. Rock musician Jorma Kaukonen is 69. Rock musician Ron Bushy is 68. Actor-comedian Harry Shearer is 66. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark is 65. Actress Susan Lucci is 63. Singer-musician Adrian Belew is 60. Rock musician Dave Murray (Iron Maiden) is 53. Actress Joan Severance is 51. Singer Terry Weeks is 46. Rock singer Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) is 45. The first lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, is 42. Actor Corey Haim is 38. Rock musician Jamie Murphy is 34. Jazz musician Irvin Mayfield is 32. Actress Estella Warren is 31.
Born On This Date But Gave Up: Egyptologist Jean Francois Champollion, who deciphered the Rosetta Stone (1790); poet Harriet Monroe, founder of Poetry magazine (1860); Manhattan restaurateur Vincent Sardi Sr. (1885); British film executive J. Arthur Rank (1888); actor James Gregory (1911); actor Harry Guardino (1925).
Today In Entertainment History December 23
In 1928, NBC set up a permanent, coast-to-coast network.
In 1964, The Beach Boys made their first appearance on "Shindig!"
In 1967, the Rolling Stones album "Their Satanic Majesties Request" was released.
Forty years ago, in 1969, Diana Ross began her final engagement with The Supremes in Las Vegas. The last show was a few weeks later. Ross was replaced with Jean Terrell.
In 1972, Grand Funk Railroad's rehearsal for a live album in New York was interrupted by former manager Terry Knight, two deputy sheriffs and an attorney. Knight had a court order giving him the right to seize $1 million or equivalent assets, and he took the band's equipment after the show.
In 1982, actor Jack Webb died in West Hollywood, Calif., at the age of 62. Best known for his role as Sergeant Joe Friday in TV's "Dragnet," Webb was a true renaissance man, an Ed Wood who knew what the sheep wanted, & could get it for them cheap.
In 1985, two fans of Judas Priest shot themselves after listening to the band's "Stained Class" album. Raymond Belknap died instantly and James Vance died in 1988 after lapsing into a coma. In 1990, a judge decided Judas Priest did not place subliminal messages on the album.
In 1997, Woody Allen married Soon-Yi Previn in a secret wedding in Venice, Italy.
In 2003, New York Governor George Pataki issued a pardon to comedian Lenny Bruce, 37 years after Bruce's death. Bruce was convicted of obscenity for using more than 100 words considered dirty during a concert in 1964.
Thought for Today: "You can always spot a well-informed man — his views are the same as yours." — Ilka Chase, author, actress and humorist (1905-1978).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

X-Mess On Us Like Stink On Shit

It's sneaked up before we could display all our holiday junk.

Top Cat Goes To The Big Pound In The Sky

The Voice Of "Top Cat" And The "Chunky" Candy Commercials Has Died
Arnold Stang was most famous for being the voice of "Top Cat" in the animated series of the '60s.
LAST UPDATED: 12/22/2009 21:00:08 ET
Boston, Mass -- He was the nerdy-looking guy most famous for being the voice of "Top Cat" in the animated series of the '60s. But there are plenty of other projects Arnold Stang is known for [sic]. He was in "It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" and "The Man with the Golden Arm." He co-starred in Arnold Schwarzenegger's first big movie, "Hercules in New York." Stang was the voice of the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee and appeared in several commercials for the chocolate candy Chunky. He ended each ad with the phrase, "What a chunk of chocolate!" Stang has now died of pneumonia. He was 91.
Source: Associated Press

(They've at last mastered the art of writing simple, declarative sentences, we see. Merry Christmas, retards!)

22 December: Continental Navy Authorized; Dreyfus Convicted; McAuliffe Says "Nuts!"; Eisenhower-NIxon Dynasty Begun; Ceausescu Toppled; Beckett No Longer Waiting; "Shoe-Bomb" Joins Lexicon; Strummer Dies; Two More Rings Circle Uranus.

Today is Tuesday, Dec. 22, the 356th day of 2009. There are nine days left in the year. The UPI Almanac.Today's Highlight in History:
In 1944, during the World War II Battle of the Bulge, U.S. Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe rejected a German demand for surrender, writing "Nuts!" in his official reply.
On this date:
In 1772, construction of the first schoolhouse west of the Allegheny Mountains was started in Schoenbrunn, Ohio, by Moravian missionaries.
In 1775, Esek Hopkins was appointed the commander in chief of the Continental Navy.
In 1807, Congress passed the Embargo Act, barring all US trade with foreign countries.
In 1808, Ludwig van Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, and Symphony No. 6 in F major, Op. 68, also known as the "Pastoral Symphony," had their world premieres in Vienna, Austria.
In 1858, opera composer Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca, Italy.
In 1864, during the Civil War, Union Gen. William T. Sherman wrote a message to President Abraham Lincoln which said in part: "I beg to present you as a Christmas-gift the city of Savannah."
In 1894, French army officer Alfred Dreyfus was convicted of treason in a court-martial that triggered worldwide charges of anti-Semitism. (Dreyfus was eventually vindicated.)
In 1912, Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson, was born Claudio Alta Taylor in Karnack, Texas.
In 1941, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived in Washington, D.C., for a wartime conference with President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
In 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, Germany demanded the surrender of American troops at Bastogne, Belgium; Brigadier Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe reportedly replied: "Nuts!"
In 1956, the first gorilla to be born in captivity arrived into the world at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio.
In 1963, an official 30-day mourning period following the assassination of President Kennedy came to an end.
In 1968, Julie Nixon married David Eisenhower in a private ceremony in New York.
In 1972, 5,000 people died when a series of earthquakes left the Nicaraguan capital of Managua in ruins.
In 1977, three dozen people were killed when a 250-foot-high grain elevator at the Continental Grain Company plant in Westwego, La., exploded.
In 1984, New York City resident Bernhard Goetz shot and wounded four youths on a Manhattan subway, claiming they were about to rob him.
In 1988, Brazilian environmentalist Chico Mendes was shot and killed. (A rancher, Darly Alves da Silva, was sentenced in 1990 to 19 years in jail for ordering Mendes slain.)
In 1989, Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu, the last of Eastern Europe's hard-line Communist rulers, was toppled from power in a popular uprising.

In 1990, Lech Walesa took the oath of office as Poland's first popularly elected president.
In 1997, during his visit to Bosnia, President Clinton thanked American troops and lectured the nation's three presidents to set aside their differences. Gunmen attacked an Indian village in southern Mexico, killing 45 people.
In 1998, a Chinese dissident (Qin Yongmin) was sentenced to prison for trying to organize an opposition party. (Qin remains in prison.)
In 1999, President Bill Clinton urged Americans not to panic despite enhanced security measures prompted by fears of terrorism. An Algerian accused of trying to smuggle nitroglycerin and other bomb-making materials into the United States from Canada pleaded innocent in Seattle to all five counts of a federal indictment. (Ahmed Ressam was convicted in April 2001 of terrorist conspiracy and eight other charges.) Two astronauts from the shuttle Discovery went on a spacewalk to replace broken instruments in the Hubble Space Telescope.
In 2001, Richard C. Reid, a passenger on an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami, tried to ignite explosives in his shoes, but was subdued by flight attendants and other passengers. (Reid is serving a life sentence.)
In 2002, a defiant North Korea said that it had begun removing U.N. seals and surveillance cameras from nuclear facilities that US officials said could yield weapons within months. Time magazine chose as its Persons of the Year for 2002 three female whistleblowers: FBI agent Coleen Rowley; WorldCom auditor Cynthia Cooper; and former Enron vice president Sherron Watkins.
In 2003, a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit California's central coast, killing two people. A federal judge ruled the Pentagon couldn't enforce mandatory anthrax vaccinations for military personnel. Colombian rebels freed four Israelis and a Briton held hostage for 101 days.
In 2004, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, stung by criticism that he'd been insensitive to the needs of troops and their families, offered an impassioned defense, saying when he would meet wounded soldiers or relatives of those killed in battle, "their grief is something I feel to my core." Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi received a conditional discharge after pleading guilty to assault, more than nine months after slugging Colorado forward Steve Moore from behind during a game.
In 2005, astronomers announced the discovery of two more rings encircling the planet Uranus.
In 2006, rape charges were dropped against three Duke University lacrosse players, but kidnapping and sexual offense charges remained. (Those charges were later dropped as well.) Space shuttle Discovery returned to Earth after a smooth, 13-day flight to rewire the international space station.
In 2007, a jury in Riverhead, N.Y., convicted John White, a black man, of second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Daniel Cicciaro, a white teenager, during a confrontation outside White's house. (The 17-year-old was shot in the face after he showed up with two carloads of friends to confront White's son after a dispute at a party.)
In 2008, five Muslim immigrants accused of scheming to massacre U.S. soldiers at Fort Dix were convicted of conspiracy in Camden, N.J. (Four were later sentenced to life in prison; one received a 33-year sentence.) Toyota projected its first operating loss in 70 years due to the global economic slowdown. The president of Guinea, Lansana Conte, died nearly a quarter of a century after seizing power in a coup; he was believed to be in his 70s. Also in 2008, an earthen retraining wall ruptured at a Kingston, Tenn., power plant, allowing 5.4 million cubic yards of coal and sludge to spill from a storage pond, blocking roads and rail lines, polluting 500 acres of land and contaminating the Emory River.
Today's Birthdays: Actress Barbara Billingsley is 94. Former House Speaker Jim Wright is 87. Actor Hector Elizondo is 73. Country singer Red Steagall is 71. Former World Bank Group President Paul Wolfowitz is 66. Baseball Hall-of-Famer Steve Carlton is 65. ABC News correspondent Diane Sawyer is 64. Rock singer-musician Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick) is 63. Rock singer-musician Michael Bacon is 61. Baseball All-Star Steve Garvey is 61. Singer Robin Gibb is 60. Golfer Jan Stephenson is 58. Actress BernNadette Stanis is 56. Rapper Luther Campbell is 49. Country singer-musician Chuck Mead is 49. Actor Ralph Fiennes is 47. Actress Lauralee Bell is 41. Country singer Lori McKenna is 41. Actress Dina Meyer is 41. Actress Heather Donahue is 35.
The Less Lively Born on This Date: James Oglethorpe, founder of the American colony of Georgia (1696); Thomas Wentworth Higginson, abolitionist (1823); Connie Mack, baseball player and manager (1862); Edwin Arlington Robinson, poet (1869); Dame Peggy Ashcroft, actress (1907).
Today In Entertainment History December 22:
In 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono met for an hour with Canada's prime minister. Earlier that day, they had met with Canada's minister of health to discuss drug abuse.
In 1973, Stephen Stills lost a paternity suit brought on by a Mill Valley, California, woman. The child had been born about two years earlier.
In 1976, singer Isaac Hayes declared bankruptcy.
In 1978, Kenney Jones became the drummer for The Who, replacing Keith Moon, who died four months earlier.
In 1979, the first of four "Concerts for the People of Kampuchea" was held in London. Performers included The Clash, Paul McCartney, The Pretenders and The Who.
In 1983, actors Parker Stevenson and Kirstie Alley got married. They have since split up.
In 1988, Morrissey performed for the first time as a solo act in England.
In 1989, playwright Samuel Beckett died in Paris at age 83.
In 1990, Pearl Jam performed for the first time together, under the name Mookie Blaylock, as the opening act for Alice In Chains in Seattle.
In 1995, actress Butterfly McQueen died of burns suffered when her house outside Augusta, Ga., caught on fire. She was 84. She's probably best known for playing Prissy in "Gone With The Wind."
In 1997, actress Hunter Tylo, whose pregnancy got her fired from TV's "Melrose Place," was awarded 4.9 million dollars by jurors who agreed she'd been wrongfully terminated.
In 2000, Madonna married Guy Ritchie at a church in Scotland.
In 2002, singer-guitarist Joe Strummer of The Clash died of sudden cardiac arrest at his home in southwest England. He was 50.
Thought for Today: "Time is the thief you cannot banish." — Phyllis McGinley, American poet and author (1905-1978).

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Great Game, Cont'd.

Arming & training dirty fuggin' hippies.Here, Afghans are portrayed as "crazy" rather than "lazy."

If It Says Nihilism, We're For It

An easily digestible (other than length) item in TNR summing up reactionary resistance to reform & the rigidity of what passes for conservative thought.

If, like us, serious discussion of thorny issues makes your hair hurt, be warned: Reference is made to serious thinkers Doughy Pantload & Charles "Heal Thyself!" Krauthammer.
In the graphic below, some of The New Republic’s staff have compiled a brief history of conservative opposition to social reform over the last century. It puts on display conservatism’s miserable record of predicting the outcome of various liberal reforms, in the social and political as well as economic spheres.

One of those items is a diatribe against the passage of Medicare delivered by Ronald Reagan in 1961. Earlier this year, National Review Online editor-at-large Jonah Goldberg called Reagan’s address “still fresh today.” This is a strange description for even as committed a right-winger as Goldberg. In his speech, Reagan predicted that Medicare would lead to the government dictating how doctors might practice and where they’d live, and that, if it came into law, “[Y]ou and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.”

Almost certainly, Goldberg did not mean to praise this as a prescient warning of how Medicare would unfold. The title he chose, “The Gipper on Socialized Medicine,” suggests that he viewed the speech as a prescient warning about the next step in health care reform. But this is how conservatism tends to operate: In the right-wing mind, the world we live in at any given moment can be described as the free market, the American way of life, perhaps not a perfect world but a cherished and fundamentally free one. The next advance of liberalism will always bring socialism, tyranny, a crushing burden on industry, and other horrors. The previous liberal advances that they or their predecessors greeted with such hysteria are eventually incorporated into the landscape of the free American way of life.

Everything that the 1960s right said about Medicare, the contemporary right no longer believes, while fervently believing it will all hold true of health care reform. Similarly, the hysteria of the 1970s right about clean-air regulation no longer plagues the contemporary right, but it grips conservatives when it comes to greenhouse-gas regulation. (Charles Krauthammer: Cap-and-trade “will destroy what’s left of the industrial Midwest.”) And so it goes.

Yes, mostly the same old crap (though clearly expressed, look at the "graphic" too) about the same old crap, although Chait's observation that the right's economic determinism & fetishization of "economic" (if not social) freedom makes them faith-based fools is new to us, even if he's been recycling it for a while.
Several years ago, I wrote in these pages that the fundamental difference between economic conservatism and economic liberalism is that the former is driven by abstract philosophical beliefs in a way that the latter is not. Conservatives believe that small-government policies maximize human welfare. But they also believe that they increase human freedom. Liberals, by contrast, believe in government intervention only to the extent that it increases human welfare.

If liberals could be persuaded that tax cuts would actually increase living standards for all Americans, they would embrace them. (This is why nearly all liberals believe that some level of tax rate, be it 50 or 70 or 90 percent, becomes counterproductive.) If conservatives came to believe that tax cuts failed to increase economic growth, most would still support them anyway, because they enhance freedom. As Milton Friedman once put it, “[E]conomic freedom is an end in itself.”
The end.

21 December: WINTER TO ARRIVE AT 0947 PST; Patton Passes; DeGaulle Elected; Pilgrims land in Plymouth, Massachusetts; Pan Am flight 747 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland; Apollo 8 lifts off on first manned mission to the Moon; Jane Fonda is born.

Today is Monday, Dec. 21, the 355th day of 2009. There are 10 days left in the year. Winter arrives at 12:47 p.m. EST. See also: UPI Almanac.Today's Highlight in History:
On December 21st, 1620, Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower went ashore for the first time at present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts.

On this date:
In 1804, British statesman Benjamin Disraeli was born in London. Disraeli once defined a bore as "one who has the power of speech but not the capacity for conversation."
In 1879, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin was born Josef Dzhugashvili in Gori, Georgia. [Or not, depending on the calendar. — Ed.]
In 1891, the first basketball game, invented at Springfield College in Massachusetts by James E. Naismith, was played.
In 1898, Pierre and Marie Curie discovered radium.
In 1913, the first crossword puzzle was printed, in the New York World.
In 1945, General George S. Patton died in Heidelberg, Germany, of injuries from a car accident.
In 1948, the state of Eire, or Ireland (formerly the Irish Free State), passed an act declaring itself a republic.
In 1958, three months after the most recent French constitution was approved, Charles de Gaulle was elected to a seven-year term as the first president of the Fifth Republic of France.
In 1968, Apollo 8 was launched on a mission to orbit the moon.
In 1969, Vince Lombardi coached his last football game as his team, the Washington Redskins, lost to the Dallas Cowboys 20-10.
In 1971, the U.N. Security Council chose Kurt Waldheim to succeed U Thant as Secretary-General.
In 1975, the notorious terrorist Carlos the Jackal led a raid on a meeting of OPEC oil ministers in Vienna. German and Arab terrorists stormed in with machine guns, killed three people and took 63 others hostage, including 11 oil ministers.
In 1976, the Liberian-registered tanker Argo Merchant broke apart near Nantucket Island almost a week after running aground, spilling 7 1/2 millions of gallons of oil into the North Atlantic.
In 1978, police in Des Plaines, Ill., arrested John W. Gacy Jr. and began unearthing the remains of 33 men and boys whom Gacy was later convicted of murdering.
In 1987, in New York, three white teen-agers from the Howard Beach section of Queens were convicted of manslaughter in the death of a black man who was chased onto a highway, where he was struck by a car; a fourth defendant was acquitted.
In 1988, 270 people were killed when a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pam Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, sending wreckage crashing to the ground.

In 1990, a boat carrying about 100 U.S. sailors involved in Operation Desert Shield capsized off the Israeli coast. Twenty-one people died.
In 1991, eleven of the 12 former Soviet republics proclaimed the birth of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
In 1992, 54 people were killed when a chartered jetliner carrying 340 people on a holiday to southern Portugal crashed in bad weather.
In 1994, more than 40 people were injured when an incendiary device exploded on a crowded subway in New York's lower Manhattan. Police later arrested one of the burn victims who reportedly was carrying a firebomb that went off.
In 1995, a commuter train rammed the rear of a passenger train in heavy fog near Cairo, Egypt, killing 75 people. The city of Bethlehem passed from Israeli to Palestinian control.

In 1996, after two years of denials, House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted violating House ethics rules.
In 1997, President Clinton, accompanied by his wife and daughter, left for Bosnia to spread holiday cheer and to carry the news that he wanted U.S. troops to remain there indefinitely as the region recovered from its devastating war. A fire swept through Tokyo's Tsukji wholesale fish market, destroying more than 100 shops and stores.
In 1998, Israel's parliament voted overwhelmingly for early elections, signaling the demise of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ailing hard-line government. A Chinese court sentenced two dissidents (Xu Wenli, Wang Youcai) to long prison terms for trying to organize an opposition party. (Xu was released in December 2002; Wang, in March 2004.)
In 1999, amid heightened concerns about the possibility of a holiday terrorist attack, security was ordered tightened at American airports and the Pentagon said it was taking "appropriate action" to protect U.S. forces overseas.
In 2002, a military helicopter crash in Afghanistan killed seven German peacekeepers who were on board and two children on the ground; a US soldier was killed in combat. President Bush received a smallpox vaccination, fulfilling a promise he'd made when he ordered inoculations for about a-half million US troops.
In 2003, the government raised the national threat level to orange, indicating a high risk of terrorist attack. (It was lowered back to yellow on Jan. 9, 2004.) More than 150 people were killed in mudslides in the Philippines. Soviet diplomat Oleg Troyanovsky died at age 84.
In 2004, a suicide bombing at a mess hall tent near Mosul, Iraq, killed 22 people, including 14 U.S. service members and three American contractors. Two French reporters held hostage for four months in Iraq were released. The Associated Press told the Bowl Championship Series to stop using its college football poll to determine which teams would play for the national title and in the most prestigious bowl games. The NFL fined Jacksonville safety Donovin Darius $75,000 for a hit across the neck of Green Bay's Robert Ferguson that left the wide receiver temporarily paralyzed. U.S. President George W. Bush's approval rating slipped 6 percentage points to 49 percent, a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll said, making Bush the first incumbent president to have an approval rating less than 50 percent one month after winning re-election.
In 2006, at Camp Pendleton, California, four Marines were charged with murder in the killings of 24 Iraqi civilians in Haditha; four Marine officers were accused of failures in investigating and reporting the deaths. (Charges were later dropped against two of the Marines accused of murder. Staff Sgt. Frank Wuterich has pleaded not guilty to voluntary manslaughter; one of the officers was acquitted and charges against the others were dropped.) Final results showed opponents of Iran's ultra-conservative president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, winning nationwide elections for local councils.
In 2007, a suicide attacker detonated a bomb at a mosque outside the home of Pakistan's former interior minister, killing at least 50 people.
In 2008, a multi-faith ceremony was held to mark the reopening of the Oberoi hotel in Mumbai, India, three weeks after it was targeted in a militant rampage. Detroit became the first 0-15 team when it was routed 42-7 by the New Orleans Saints.
Today's Birthdays December 21: Country singer Freddie Hart & College Football Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno are 83. Actor Ed Nelson is 81. Talk show host Phil Donahue is 74. Movie director John Avildsen is 74. Actress Jane Fonda is 72. Actor Larry Bryggman is 71. Singer Carla Thomas is 67. Musician Albert Lee is 66. Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas is 65. Actor Josh Mostel is 63. Actor Samuel L. Jackson is 61. Movie producer Jeffrey Katzenberg is 59. Singer Betty Wright is 56. Tennis Hall-of-Famer Chris Evert is 55. Actress Jane Kaczmarek is 54. Country singer Lee Roy Parnell is 53. Entertainer Jim Rose is 53. Actor-comedian Ray Romano is 52. Country singer Christy Forester (The Forester Sisters) is 47. Rock musician Murph (The Lemonheads; Dinosaur Jr.) is 45. Actor-comedian Andy Dick is 44. Rock musician Gabrielle Glaser is 44. Actor Kiefer Sutherland is 43. Actress Karri Turner is 43. Actress Khrystyne Haje is 41. Country singer Brad Warren (The Warren Brothers) is 41. Actress Julie Delpy is 40. Country singer-musician Rhean Boyer (Carolina Rain) is 39. Contemporary Christian singer Natalie Grant is 38. Actor Glenn Fitzgerald is 38. Singer-musician Brett Scallions is 38. Rock singer Lukas Rossi (Rock Star Supernova) is 33.
Not Just Disraeli: Austrian President Kurt Waldheim (1918); composer-performer, smart-ass potty-mouth Frank Zappa
(1940); Beach Boys guitarist Carl Wilson (1946); athlete Florence Griffith-Joyner (1959).
In 1933, five-year-old Shirley Temple signed a movie contract with Fox. Her age was later changed to make her appear a year younger.
In 1937, the first feature-length animated cartoon in Technicolor, Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," had its world premiere in Los Angeles.
In 1940, author F. Scott Fitzgerald died in Hollywood, Calif., at age 44.
In 1964, the book "Ode to a High-Flying Bird" by Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts was published. It was a tribute to jazz great Charlie (Bird) Parker.
In 1967, the comedy-drama "The Graduate," starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, was released.
In 1968, Janis Joplin made her first appearance after leaving Big Brother and the Holding Company. She performed in Memphis at the second annual "Yuletide Thing" event sponsored by Stax-Volt Records. Also in 1968, Crosby, Stills and Nash performed together for the first time. [P. U. — Ed.]
In 1970, Elvis Presley paid a visit to President Nixon at the White House.

In 1979, Chicago, The Eagles and Linda Ronstadt played the first of two concerts to raise campaign money for California governor Jerry Brown, Ronstadt's then-boyfriend.
In 1991, actress Jane Fonda married broadcasting executive Ted Turner on his ranch in Florida. It was her 54th birthday. They've since split up.
In 1992, bluesman Albert King died at a Tennessee hospital at the age of 69. He had fallen into a coma after suffering a heart attack.
In 1996, singer Tony Bennett was rushed to a hospital in Washington after his hernia erupted while visiting the White House for a holiday dinner. He had to have emergency surgery but recovered without problems; singer Lionel Richie married former dancer and fashion designer Diane Alexander in New York.
In 2005, Elton John and his longtime partner, David Furnish, held a civil union ceremony in Windsor, England, the first day that same-sex partnerships became legal in Britain. Also in 2005, singer Howie Day was arrested for rowdy behavior on a flight from Dallas to Boston. He was sentenced to probation and rehab and was ordered to write letters of apology to the crew and passengers. [Who the fuck is Howie Day? — Ed.]
In 2008, playwright Dale Wasserman, who'd written the book for the Tony-winning musical "Man of La Mancha," died in Paradise Valley, Ariz., at age 94.
Thought for Today: "Many human beings say that they enjoy the winter, but what they really enjoy is feeling proof against it." — Richard Adams, English author. And: "The time will come when winter will ask us: 'What were you doing all the summer?'" — Bohemian proverb.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Dark Ages To Return?

The Philippines' most active volcano could have a huge eruption within days, officials warned on Sunday. Thousands have been evacuated, and red-hot lava has already started to flow down the mountainside. (Dec. 20)

A Look Back: Eleven Months Ago

Former President George W. Bush looks out over the U.S. Capitol as his helicopter departs Washington for Andrews Air Force Base following the inauguration ceremonies for President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009. UPI/Eric Draper/The White House

20 December: They Drop Like Flies

Today is Sunday, Dec. 20, the 354th day of 2009. There are 11 days left in the year. UPI Almanac.Today's Highlight in History:
On December 20th, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was completed as ownership of the territory was formally transferred from France to the United States during ceremonies in New Orleans. [Have something a couple hundred yrs., & you just don't care as much as you used to. — Ed.]
On this date:
In 1790, the first successful cotton mill in the United States began operating at Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union.
In 1864, Confederate forces evacuated Savannah, Georgia, as Union General William T. Sherman continued his "March to the Sea."
In 1879, Thomas Edison privately demonstrated his incandescent light at Menlo Park, N.J. [A mere 130 yrs. later, they're so old school they're about to be outlawed. — Ed.]
In 1945, the Office of Price Administration announced the end of tire rationing, effective January 1st, 1946.
In 1963, the Berlin Wall was opened for the first time to West Berliners, who were allowed one-day visits to relatives in the Eastern sector for the holidays.
In 1968, author John Steinbeck died in New York at age 66.
In 1976, Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley died at age 74.
In 1978, former White House chief of staff H.R. Haldeman was released from prison after serving 18 months for his role in the Watergate cover-up.
In 1987, more than 4,300 people were killed when the Dona Paz, a Philippine passenger ship, collided with the tanker Vector off Mindoro island. [That's a lot of people. Typo? Perhaps. UPI claims differently. — Ed.] In 1987, nearly 1,600 people died in the Philippines when a passenger ferry was struck by an oil tanker and sank. It was the century's worst peacetime maritime disaster.
In 1989, the United States launched Operation Just Cause, sending troops into Panama to topple the government of General Manuel Noriega.
In 1994, former Secretary of State Dean Rusk died at age 85.
In 1996, astronomer Carl Sagan died at age 62.
In 1997, President Nelson Mandela stepped down as leader of South Africa's governing African National Congress. Pope John Paul II sent Christmas greetings to the Cuban people in advance of his visit to the island.
In 1998, Nkem Chukwu gave birth in Houston to five girls and two boys, 12 days after giving birth to another child, a girl. (However, the tiniest of the octuplets died a week later.)
In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections as wedded couples. Ten years ago: The Vermont Supreme Court ruled that homosexual couples were entitled to the same benefits and protections as wedded couples of the opposite sex. Country music legend Hank Snow died in Nashville, Tenn., at age 85.
In 2002, Trent Lott resigned as Senate Republican leader two weeks after igniting a political firestorm with racially charged remarks. The nation's ten biggest brokerages agreed to pay 1.44 billion dollars and fundamentally change the way they did business to settle allegations they'd misled investors by hyping certain companies' stocks. Ted Williams' eldest daughter, Bobby-Jo Williams Ferrell, dropped her objections to her siblings' decision to have the Hall of Famer's body frozen at a cryonics lab in Arizona.
In 2003, Spain's prime minister, Jose Maria Aznar, paid a surprise visit to Spanish soldiers in Iraq. Friends and relatives of Michael Jackson descended on his Neverland Ranch to show their support for the entertainer as he fought child molestation charges (Jackson was later acquitted).
In 2004, in a sobering assessment of the Iraq war, President George W. Bush acknowledged during a news conference that Americans' resolve had been shaken by grisly scenes of death and destruction, and he pointedly criticized the performance of U.S.-trained Iraqi troops. Attorneys presented opening statements in the Robert Blake murder trial in Los Angeles.
In 2005, a federal judge ruled that "intelligent design" could not be mentioned in biology classes in a Pennsylvania public school district. New York City transit workers began a three-day strike.
In 2006, acknowledging deepening frustration over Iraq, President Bush told a news conference he was considering an increase in American forces and warned that the next year would bring more painful U.S. losses. Recently sworn-in Defense Secretary Robert Gates made an unannounced visit to Iraq.
In 2007, police used chemical spray and stun guns on protesters outside a New Orleans City Council meeting where members unanimously supported demolition of 4,500 public housing units for redevelopment. Thieves broke into the Sao Paulo Museum of Art in Brazil and made off with paintings by Pablo Picasso and Candido Portinari. A British judge acquitted the only man charged with murder in Northern Ireland's deadliest terror attack: the 1998 car bombing that killed 29 people in the town of Omagh. Utah opened the bowl season with a wild 35-32 victory over the Navy Midshipmen in the Poinsettia Bowl.
In 2008, a Continental Airlines Boeing 737-500 taking off from Denver veered off the runway into a ravine, injuring 37 people. Olga Lepeshinskaya, the Bolshoi Ballet's prima ballerina for three decades during Soviet times, died in Moscow at age 92.
Today's Birthdays December 20: Actress Audrey Totter is 92. Comedian Charlie Callas is 82. Actor John Hillerman is 77. Actress Kathryn Joosten is 70. Rock musician-music producer Bobby Colomby is 65. Rock musician Peter Criss is 64. Psychic/illusionist Uri Geller is 63. Producer Dick Wolf ("Law & Order") is 63. Rock musician Alan Parsons is 61. Actress Jenny Agutter is 57. Actor Michael Badalucco is 55. Actress Blanche Baker is 53. Rock singer Billy Bragg is 52. Rock singer-musician Mike Watt (The Secondmen, Minutemen, fIREHOSE) is 52. Actor Joel Gretsch is 46. Country singer Kris Tyler is 45. Rock singer Chris Robinson is 43. Actress Nicole deBoer is 39. Movie director Todd Phillips is 39.
Born On This Date & Later Died:
Harvey Samuel Firestone, industrialist (1868); Branch Rickey, baseball executive; integrated the major leagues by signing (1945) Jackie Robinson to a contract with the Brooklyn Dodgers. (1881); Hazel Hotchkiss Wightman, athlete (1886); Susanne K. Langer, philosopher (1895); Sidney Hook, philosopher (1902).
Show Bidness History:
In 1946, the Frank Capra film "It's A Wonderful Life" had a preview showing for charity at New York City's Globe Theatre, a day before its official premiere.

In 1958, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and John Lennon performed as The Quarrymen at the wedding reception of Harrison's brother, Harry.
In 1967, singer Ian Anderson and bassist Glenn Cornick formed Jethro Tull. Also in 1967, singer Jimmy Rodgers was beaten during a roadside attack in Los Angeles. He had to have three brain operations and had a steel plate put into his skull.
In 1973, singer Bobby Darin died during open heart surgery. He was 37.
In 1975, former James Gang member Joe Walsh joined The Eagles. He replaced Bernie Leadon, who left The Eagles for a solo career.
In 1981, the musical "Dreamgirls," which was loosely based on the career of Diana Ross and the Supremes, premiered on Broadway.
In 1986, Randy Travis joined the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1995, the members of The Drifters were forbidden to leave Guyana after a series of concerts. They owed about $4,000 in entertainment taxes.
In 1999, country music legend Hank Snow died in Nashville, Tenn., at age 85.
In 2006, Eminem and Kim Mathers were divorced for a second time. They had first married in 1999 and divorced in 2001. They remarried in January 2006 and he field [sic] for divorce again that April.
In 2007, Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli settled their divorce.
In 2008, filmmaker Robert Mulligan ("To Kill a Mockingbird") died in Lyme, Conn., at age 83.
Thought for Today: "There are two days in the week about which and upon which I never worry. Two carefree days, kept sacredly free from fear and apprehension. One of these days is Yesterday. ... And the other ... is Tomorrow." — Robert Jones Burdette, American clergyman and author (1844-1914).