Monday, October 12, 2009

I Scooped Newsweek by a Month!

You may have seen this at, (Joe Biden, White House Truth Teller) or you can go directly to it here: in either case, it’s clear that Newsweek, although a little slow in the uptake, has caught on to what I pointed out on 12 September in “Joe Wilson, Joe Biden, and the Dangerous Truth Strategy.” (

The point I made is that Biden’s celebrated tendency to blurt out the truth might actually be a clever ruse, as opposed to a simple case of Tourette syndrome.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Cliffs above Dira

Apparently I'm able to upload photographs again. Keep your fingers crossed and hopefully this isn't a temporary condition.

I took a quick photo safari today. This is a shot from the edge of the plateau upon which Riyadh is located. You're looking southeast, and you can just make out the village of Dira in the distance.

High School Teacher Named, "Surgeon of the Year."

The Journal of the American Medical Association has announced that, in a departure from its usual practice of awarding its “Surgeon of the Year” award to a board-certified surgeon, it will present this year’s Golden Caduceus to Ms. Sandra Buttermilk, a poet and high school English teacher from Hazelton, Pennsylvania.

Doctors, nurses, and hospital administrators across the country were caught off guard by the announcement, which was made, as is customary, at midnight during the annual JAMA pig roast. One attendee, neurologist Doctor Arty Feipfer, was so surprised that he dropped his cigar into his brandy snifter. No one was injured in the resulting conflagration, but the announcement had to be paused while the flames were subdued.

After the fire department personnel had departed the banquet hall, JAMA prize committee spokesman, Dr. Neil Matterhorn explained, “It has always been difficult for us to pick a winner. Year after year there are so many great American surgeons who contribute so much to helping people through advancing the medical arts that it becomes almost impossible to pick one above the others. But this year we are inspired by the approach of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee, which bestowed this year’s award on President Obama based on his vision for world peace.” After a brief round of applause, Dr. Matterhorn went on to say, “We are pleased to follow suit, and to present this prestigious award to a woman who dares to not only envision a world free of disease and suffering, but through her poetry, to share that vision with others.”

Matterhorn did not mention it in the official announcement, but during an interview at the after-party, he explained that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was another nominee who had been closely considered by the committee. “Her tremendous efforts to almost pass health care reform did not go unnoticed,” he said, “but ultimately it came down to Ms. Buttlemilk’s ability to find rhymes for words like psoriasis and myocardial infarction.”

Doctor Jerome Bladwort, pioneer of a revolutionary technique for pediatric heart valve surgeries, and widely considered the favorite to win this year’s award, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment. According to his office, he spends every October in Benin, working at a free clinic for terminally ill children.

Friday, October 09, 2009

"The Onion" sues Nobel Prize Committee

The Onion sues Nobel Prize Committee

Noted satirical newspaper, The Onion ( announced today that it is suing the Nobel Peace Prize Committee for plagiarism and theft of intellectual property.

At issue is yesterday’s announcement by the Committee of its selection of U.S. President Barack Obama as this year’s recipient of the coveted Peace Prize and 1.4 million dollar award. According to Vernon Coldwater, a spokesman from The Onion legal department, his employer can prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that the idea of awarding Obama the Peace Prize is the intellectual property of staff writers from The Onion political satire department, and that it was stolen by spies from Oslo.

“They did this to us before,” Coldwater said, under the condition that he remain anonymous. “Where else do you think they came up with Jimmy Carter as a recipient? Fool us once, shame on you,” Coldwater quoted, “but fool us twice and we’ll sue your skinny European butts.”

Coldwater said that The Onion legal staff are still preparing their case, but when they are finished, they will be able to prove that the Prize Committee plagiarized the idea for a series of satirical pieces on Jimmy Carter as a Peace Prize nominee, and then stole The Onion’s thunder by nominating Carter for the prize. The Onion was unable to prove the original theft, but, expecting a repeat, the writers carefully documented every step of their creative process as they reworked the story with Obama as the nominee.

In addition to time-stamping all their drafts, they surgically implanted a tracking chip in the shoulder of Anrid, the Norwegian intern, after a night of heavy aquavit drinking. Data from the tracking chip, according to Coldwater, will reveal that Anrid was a mole, stealing The Onion’s best material, and spiriting it back to Oslo.

But why would the Prize committee be interesting in pilfering satirical material? Coldwater said, “The Committee has been moving into the satire business for years. Bestowing prizes is decent work, but world economic conditions have caused the committee members to look for alternative sources of income, and satire has always been big in Norway.” The counselor added, “Satire has an even stronger appeal the closer you get to the Arctic Circle, so the demand is pretty strong, year-round in Norway. The thing that really bothers us,” Coldwater said, “is that they’re quite good at it already, without stealing our material. I mean, Yassir Arafat as a prize nominee? I wish we could say they stole that one too, but that was all theirs.”

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

My Internet Service Provider is a Weasel.

I am neither dead, nor have I given up painting.

I am, however perilously close to strangling my internet service provider, who I informed WEEKS ago, that I'm unable to upload or email photographs. I went back to his office yesterday to renew my complaint. Have you ever had the experience of calling a customer service number only to find that, instead of having your concerns addressed, you provided a free English lesson to someone of East Asian lineage? That's exactly what my visit was like, except, of course, that it was in person, instead of over the phone - so it was much more satisfactory.

Or not.

It's very difficult to discuss internet connectivity issues with any degree of specificity when you have no language in common with the person with whom you are having the discussion. We both worked very hard at communicating in English but one of us (I'll not say which.) doesn't really have a solid grasp of that language. I switched to Arabic, seeing as the conversation was taking place in Riyadh, but that wasn't any better. I know; it's my fault for not speaking Bengali or Urdu or Hindustani. Stupid American.

Ultimately, all I came away with was an assurance that the problem had been fixed, and that if I'd simply checked before leaving for work that morning, I'd have already discovered that it was fixed and so I was actually wasting time that was valuable to both of us.

So I went home, feeling a little bit stupid for not having checked before complaining (a third time.) And yet, even as I felt that way, something was at work in the back of my mind, prodding me with the sharp elbow of skepticism, so that, by the time I'd logged in at home, I had cataloged all the little indications my friend had exhibited that would have made it clear, were I a police investigator or a CIA interrogator (waterboarding or otherwise) or just a man of reasonable intelligence, that my internet service provider had been lying through his teeth, and had actually made no effort whatsoever to fix my internet connection.
Of course, when my interminable login processes had run their courses and I tried to upload a photo - nothing. As per usual. So I returned today to the dingy little office where the Peter Lorre doppelganger was cowering in a gloomy corner, and I tried once again, to impress upon him the importance of restoring the service for which I am paying large amounts of cash in monthly installments.
At the same time, I tried very hard not to impress upon his throat, the marks from 8 fingers and two thumbs. Where there is life, after all, there is hope, and dead, my internet service provider is even less likely to help me than if I leave him breathing.
I'll keep you posted.
PS I know - a photograph appears atop this post. That's because I posted this from my office. I can't, however put my digital camera card, upon which my recent painting photos are stored, into my computer here at work, and, like I said, I can't email the photos to myself here at work since I can't upload or email from home. So, old photos of Peter Lorre - yes. New photos of paintings - no. Sorry.