Gringo Manaba

Adventuras y Fantasias or Fantastical Adventures


  • January 2007
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Archive for January, 2007

Lame Duck Soup

Posted by glasscastle on 29th January 2007

Posted in Wacky News | 1 Comment »

Pancakes and Porn, Upstate Reborn

Posted by glasscastle on 26th January 2007

ONTARIO, N.Y., Jan. 26, 2007

(AP) It’s not your typical church breakfast. An event billed as "Porn and Pancakes" is being hosted by a church in rural upstate New York.

The breakfast discussion on the pornography industry in America is planned next month at the Living Word Assembly of God Church in the town of Ontario, about ten miles east of Rochester.

A billboard advertisement near the church shows the words "Porn and Pancakes" written in syrup on a stack of flapjacks.

Organizers told a Rochester TV station that the event on February 10th will be an honest discussion about pornography and its impact on society. The discussion will be led by Triple-X Church, a group of youth ministers who travel the country talking about porn and the porn industry.

The pastor of the Wayne County church and churches from Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse have asked about hosting "Porn and Pancakes" events.

from CBS News

Ah, stories like these make us nostagic for our misspent youth in upstate New York. Often described as a "hotbed of liberal eccentricity", much of Upstate is a downbeat rural counterbalance to the high-powered sophistication of New York City.

As to pancakes and porn, we are in favor, in theory at least, although our experience is that sex with maple syrup can be a bit sticky….

Posted in Wacky News | 15 Comments »

Anti-Bush Minister Killed Near US Base

Posted by glasscastle on 25th January 2007

It has started. Again. The wave of leftist governments spreading across Latin America got a cold, creepy wakeup call last night when the new, socialist, Minister of Defense of Ecuador, the first female to hold that position, was killed in a helicopter crash a few miles from the only major US Airbase in South America.

QUITO (Reuters) – Ecuador’s first female defense minister was killed in a mid-air collision of two helicopters Wednesday after only nine days in office, government and military officials said.

The accident in the Andean nation further rattled the leftist government of President Rafael Correa, who has clashed with Congress over his executive powers and prompted street protests since taking office along with his ministers on Jan 15.

Defense Minister Guadalupe Larriva, a 50-year-old former teacher and senior official of a socialist political party supporting Correa, died in the crash in a Pacific coastal province east of Quito, Correa told reporters.

from Reuters

Larriva took office only nine days ago, named by the newly elected President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa. In interests of full disclosure, Correa is an economist and a personal friend of our wife Norma Yvonne, from when they studied and worked together in the School of Economics of the Catholic University in Guayaquil.

Sweeping into office on a platform of reform and a break from the Bush policies for the hemisphere. Correa took the bold move of naming a woman who had never served in the military as Secretary of Defense.

Political observers (like the Dowbrigade) had wondered how the Ecusdorian military, long a bastion of Macho right-wing closet conservatives with links to the CIA, were going to take orders from a female socialist.

Now we know.

This modus operendi is not new. A quarter of a century ago, the Ecuadorians elected Jaime, Roldos a young Socialist college professor as President. A year later, he was killed in a very similar small plane accident. According to Wikipedia:

"Many Ecuadorians claimed that Rold

Posted in Latin America | Comments Off on Anti-Bush Minister Killed Near US Base

Will Ferral Man Follow Monkey Woman?

Posted by glasscastle on 20th January 2007

When they found her last week, her father said, she was "bare-bones skinny" and shaking, scuttling like a monkey along the ground to snatch up grains of rice, her eyes "red like tigers’ eyes". So when the first pictures of Rochom P’ngieng, the woman supposedly lost in the jungle for 18 years, emerged yesterday showing a calm and apparently healthy young woman rather than an emaciated, feral beast, the mystery surrounding her remarkable story deepened.

Yesterday, however, as further intriguing reports emerged of a mysterious naked man who had been spotted with the woman but ran off when challenged, the family began to close ranks. They have withdrawn permission to take DNA samples to confirm the woman’s identity, and police have thrown a cordon around their isolated home, in an effort to keep at bay curious neighbours and the world’s media.

from the Guardian UK

Hey, I recognize that guy! That’s my college buddy Ming, last seen paddling naked up the Mekong River in a dugout full of ibogane extract and action flix DVDs…

Posted in Blogging | Comments Off on Will Ferral Man Follow Monkey Woman?

Part of the Problem with Professional Sports

Posted by glasscastle on 17th January 2007

Watching the Celtics get smoked last night by the lowly Atlanta Hawks, 100-96, ("Victory eludes Celtics") we were hounded by dark and negative thoughts. To wit: No wonder Red bought the farm a week before this Titanic edition of his beloved Celtics set sail.

Bob Cousy (guest announcer) informed us that the average age of last night’s Celtics starters was 22, his tone if not his words telling us this was the root of the problem.

Now, we all know that we go onto the floor with the team we have, not the team we want to have. Not the team we drafted. Not the team we are paying obscene wheelbarrows of cash to to don the green and white. Basically, we go into the game with the team who can’t afford to goldbrick.

An average age of 22 means that right now the once-mighty Celtics are in effect a college team, which sounds about right. At present they would have a tough time cracking the college top ten. The reason these kids are out there at all is that the Celtic’s entire starting five are out injured.

Now, Paul Pierce, Brian Scalabrine, Wally Szczerbiak, Delonte West and Theo Ratliff (not to mention sixth man Tony Allen) are not going to give the Mavs or Suns much to worry about in a playoff series, but hell, even a blind pig finds a truffle once in a while. In fact, the starters are earning an AVERAGE of $5.5 MILLION while sitting on the bench in street clothes watching the games and cheering.

Cousy, as always the master of understatement and condemnation by implication, went on to note how much the game has changed since he played. "Athletes today are so much bigger and stronger and faster that they used to be, but the one thing they are not, is more durable."

Is this possible? Perhaps the bigger bodies and stronger muscles are putting unsustainable loads and stress on bones, tendons and joints designed for more mundane wear and tear. Was this what the Hall of Fame guard was alluding to?

We suspect not. Rather, like most things in this life, it boils down to money. Surely some roundball fanatic MBA candidate will soon write this phenomena up as a metronomic analysis, maybe win a Nobel prize in economics, showing that in an increasing number of cases NOT playing their chosen sport may be the smartest microeconomic decision for many of these star professional athletes.

Think of it this way. In the NBA at least, players get guaranteed contracts. The average player salary is currently;y $3.7 million, and taking into account the newer, unproven players, who can earn as little as $412,718 (and who, not coincidentally, are the only ones playing for the Celtics currently), the average veterans contract is over $5 M.

Now, as clueless and shortsighted as most of these athletes seem, all of them have very smart and sober agents, many of the Jewish persuasion (and we say that with pride and envy – another path not taken), who have negotiated the devil into these contracts, which commonly include multi-million dollar cash bonuses, deferred payments, ancillary off-court deals, direct deposits in off-shore accounts and huge salary payments to the heirs of heirs, yo unto the Nth generation. For example, the Celtics are still paying Vin Baker.

So there you are, 26 or 27 years old, a multi-millionaire after growing up in poverty, and you’ve finally made it to the big time. But it’s hard work – countless hours of hard work, discipline, sacrifice to get to the Show; drugs and gangs passed by, given up, relationships sacrificed, friends left behind, hard lessons learned.

And you soon realize that’s just the beginning; endless more sweat and discipline are required just to stay where you are. Because it’s no picnic at the top. There are 50 million kids out there who would kill for your job. 500 of them just might have the skills and the chance to take it from you.

And then, in an inspired moment of world-class athletic self-expression, going in for a dunk, or coming down with a rebound, or flying into a 300-lb 7-foot moving pick, you crack a bone, or pull a muscle, or sprain a joint, or tweak an old injury somewhere.

Now, you could just tape it up, play in pain, gut on through for the team and your teammates and the love of the game, and maybe get your surgery done after the season. But would that really be the prudent thing to do, from a financial and career point of view? A few more games, at the risk of, what, 5 or 6 more years at that $5 million average salary! You’d have to be nuts, or retarded, to risk that kind of future income for a questionable short-term benefit.

Or you can decide to ride the bench for a while. The checks keep coming – your income is not affected, and you have more time to enjoy being able to do pretty much anything you want. Of course, you have to do your rehab a few hours a day, in a 20 million dollar state-of-the-art private facility with a team of doctors (who ply you with legal narcotics), nutritional experts and trainers. And you get to watch live professional games in your favorite sport and root for your favorite team.

The only thing you are giving up is the visceral thrill of hearing the crowd roar when your name is announced, or when you do something spectacular, and that is no little thing for a professional athlete, but you have received so much acclaim in your life, that perhaps you can wait a while for another dose.

Of course, while you are out injured you are giving up opportunities to burnish your legend, add to your statistics and increase your value as a player for future contracts. However, once you are a veteran, and have proved your value, ability to play at this level and to produce numbers, you would only increase your future value marginally while risking shortening your career by playing through injuries.

The exceptions are the young guys, the Allan Rays and Rajon Rondos, who have yet to prove themselves and get their first big guaranteed contract. Even they suddenly find themselves with more money than they had ever imagined before, but they realize its just a taste so far, and they will do anything to prove themselves worthy of joining the multi-millionaires they see cheering them on from the sidelines.

Therein lies the problem.

In Cousy’s day, professional basketball players were one nasty fall away from baling hay or stocking the top shelves at the A & P. They had no high-powered agents, no investments, no pensions and no guarantees. If they couldn’t play for any extended period due to injury their stock dropped faster than Enron’s. Of course they played hurt. They would be crazy not to.

Today, the situation is reversed. Looked at from a strictly economic potential gain/potential loss point of view, most professional athletes are much better off not playing most of the time. In fact, after running the numbers, we are frankly surprised more professional athletes are not on the injury list.

At least until fans get sick of seeing their favorite stars getting paid not to play, and find a way to change the rules. It’s just a game, after all.

Posted in Sports | 1 Comment »

Evidence of Human/Neanderthal Breeding

Posted by glasscastle on 16th January 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A 40,000-year-old skull found in a Romanian cave shows traits of both modern humans and Neanderthals and might prove the two interbred, researchers reported on Monday.

If the findings are confirmed, the skull would represent the oldest modern human remains yet found in Europe.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, will add to the debate over whether modern Homo sapiens simply killed off their Neanderthal cousins, or had some intimate interactions with them first.

from Reuters

News Flash: Both the NFL and the WWF are evidence of Human/Neanderthal breeding, as were several of our college girlfriends (see: I dated Sasquatch)

Posted in Weird Science | 1 Comment »

Notorious Kennel Beheading Dogs

Posted by glasscastle on 13th January 2007

BARNSTABLE — Two Mashpee women arraigned on charges of threatening the owner of a pit bull who found the animal’s severed head on her car are facing additional charges.

Just hours after Rebecca Clancy and Kelly Hayden were released on bail Thursday on charges of intimidating a witness, a Falmouth District Court magistrate issued forgery and uttering charges against them.

Clancy and Hayden, who operate a kennel in Mashpee , were arrested Wednesday after a 22-year-old woman told police they threatened her after she found her dog’s severed head in a tin on her car last week. They pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of threatening, intimidating a witness, and assault related to that episode.

Clancy and Hayden, both 24, are suspects in the beheading of the woman’s dog, according to court records. They have not been charged in the dog’s killing.

The dog owner told police that Clancy and Hayden were supposed to be watching her dogs, Nitrous and Nala, last week when Nitrous’s severed head turned up on the hood of her car.

from the Boston Globe

First of all, these are NOT the folks to leave Rover with while you go on vacation. Stay away from Notorious B.L.U.E Kennels -96 Algonquin Mashpee, MA 02649 – unless you think that beheading the canines in their care is standard operating procedure for dog breeders. Sheesh, you’d have to be wacked on nitrous to give your pets to people like that…..

Second of all, since when is "uttering" a crime? We must have been absent the day they covered that one in "Torts".

Posted in Wacky News | 6 Comments »

Buddhism Cures Bulimia

Posted by glasscastle on 12th January 2007

A psychological technique based on Buddhist philosophy and practice may provide a solution for women who struggle with binge eating and bulimia.

The technique known as ‘mindfulness’ is being taught to Queensland women to help them understand and deal with the emotions that trigger their binges.

Unlike many therapies for eating disorders, there is less focus on food and controlling eating and more on providing freedom from negative thoughts and emotions.

from Eureka Alerts

Taking diet advice from a Fat Man? Not to be sacreligious, but by any modern standards the Buddha was obese. Could his be but the smile of the cosmic clown, who cries inside?

Posted in Weird Science | 5 Comments »

The True Price of Failure

Posted by glasscastle on 11th January 2007

Are we the only one to note that in all the wailing and thunder over the President’s "Surge" speech, no one is even mentioning the two ton black elephant in the drawing room: What’s going to happen once we’re gone?

The Dowbrigade gets an uplifting sense of real national unity in this country these days, more so than at any time in recent memory. The far majority of the American public and the pundits all agree – Bush’s plan has less chance of succeeding than a bagel shop in Sadr City.

What nobody wants to think about is what that means to the balance of power in the region and our immediate access to energy supplies. And yet these are the very factors that are driving our foreign policy in this case.

What is playing out today in Iraq is nothing more or less than the final stage of the Iran-Iraq war, the most recent iteration of which broke out in 1980 when Saddam Hussein, with covert and overt American support, invaded the recently installed Islamic Republic. Of course, there has been rivalry between kingdoms of Mesopotamia and Persia since the dawn of history in the region.

We picked sides in this one over 30 years ago, when the Ayatollahs took over the US Embassy in Tehran. First, in a time-honored practice of empires since Rome, we backed local strongman Saddam Hussein as our surrogate in the struggle. When he proved unsuccessful, unreliable and unacceptable to our other surrogates, the Israelis, we had to invade the country and carry on more directly.

As has been becoming depressingly common during our lifetime, our leaders bet on the losers again. And when we finally throw down our cards and walk away from the table, Iran is going to rake in all of the chips.

With a multicultural Iraq now a tattered, smokescreen pipe dream, the 70% Shi’ite majority is already halfway into the Iranian embrace, receiving daily financial, social, political and military support from across the porous border between the two countries. Both of the main forces we are fighting – the Sunni insurgency and the Shi’ite militias, are being supplied by the Iranians.

When we leave, or shortly thereafter, the majority of what is now called Iraq will be absorbed into a radical Shi’ite "Greater Iran" or "Iran-Iraq Republic". The 80-year European conceit which never really existed except as lines on a map and power-lust in the minds of despots and dominators will vanish like a mirage in the desert, leaving only the bedrock of Islam and tribal survival.

Greater Iran will have a significant percentage of world proven oil reserves, more than Saudi Arabia and the US combined, and be very close to having nuclear arms. And they will hate our guts. How’s that going to affect the price of gasoline?

Believe it or not, the emergence of a rabidly anti-American Greater Iran is actually the best-case scenario. Equally likely, when examining historical and geopolitical tendencies, is the emergence over the next 10 years of a Greater Islamic Republic stretching from the Horn of Africa, across the entire Middle East and into vast stretches of Asia.

We have written of this coming unified Islamic colossus before. It would be dangerous stupidity to ignore this increasingly probable eventuality, which is the declared goal of the Ayatollahs, Osama bin Laden and fundamentalist Muslims everywhere. If the powers in the Islamic world can overcome the sectarian divisions between Sunni and Shi’ite, the Muslim world could transcend the western imposition of the nation-state model, and become what it has always been underneath, a militant religious empire, determined to convert or annihilate everything in its path.

It would hold almost a billion people and would include Afghanistan, Pakistan (making it definitely a nuclear state) Saudi Arabia (kiss your car goodbye), several ex-Soviet Socialist Republics (aiming a dagger at the heart of Europe) and even parts of China. It would be a fulcrum which could move the world, and would signify the end of life as we know it .

As far as we can see, the only concrete moves the US is making to forestall or deal with this eventuality is building up a future state of Kurdistan as a possible buffer against the Islamic Empire.

Bringing us to a final. macabre irony. The way things are shaping up, the only force with a chance to derail the Greater Islamic Empire is exactly what President Bush is trying to quell – sectarian violence.

Maybe, if the bloodshed and hatred between Sunni and Shia is deeper than the unifying force of Islam itself, we will merely have to deal with a "Greater Iran" and can keep our access to the rest of the oil, at least for a while.

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on The True Price of Failure

Damn Comment Spam Sham

Posted by glasscastle on 11th January 2007

Comment Spam update: Thus far today we have been the victim of comment spam from the following sources, in chronological order: shuttle xpc sk21g, cardiomax 700e, crystal ball pendant, cheap car audio systems, radiant heater, 14k gold charm bracelet, camaro guage, and facelift cream. 24 robot-generated comments in all. And every single one is commenting on "post 940", which we DELETED MORE THAN 24 HOURS AGO!

So obviously, comments don’t even need a valid posting to attach themselves to. Diabolical damn spam……

Posted in Blogging | 3 Comments »

Opening Up the Rabbit Hole

Posted by glasscastle on 11th January 2007

LEAKING a sensitive government document can mean risking a jail sentence – but not for much longer if an online service called WikiLeaks goes ahead. WikiLeaks is designed to allow anyone to post documents on the web without fear of being traced.

The creators of the site are thought to include political activists and open-source software engineers, though they are keeping their identities secret. Their goal is to ensure that whistle-blowers and journalists are not thrown into jail for emailing sensitive documents. That was the fate of Chinese journalist Shi Tao, who was sentenced to a 10-year term in 2005 after publicising an email from Chinese officials about the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

According to the group’s website, its primary targets include China, Russia, and oppressive regimes in Eurasia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. It is not limited to these countries, however, and people anywhere will be able to use the site to reveal unethical behaviour by governments and corporations.

Normally an email or a document posted to a website can be traced back to its source because each data packet carries the IP address of the last server that it passed through. To prevent this, WikiLeaks will exploit an anonymising protocol known as The Onion Router (Tor), which routes data through a network of servers that use cryptography to hide the path that the packets took. Bruce Schneier, a cryptographer based in Silicon Valley, California, explains it like this. "Imagine a large room jammed full of people in which many of them are passing around envelopes. How would you know where any of them started?"

The WikiLeaks team do not plan to control what is disclosed on the site, raising fears that the anonymity it offers could be misused. "The initiative could drown in fabricated documents, pornographic records or become hijacked to serve vendettas," warns Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists in Washington DC.

The safeguard against this, according to the WikiLeaks team, is that false postings will be sniffed out by users, who will be free to comment on what is posted."WikiLeaks will provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document relentlessly for credibility," the site claims. WikiLeaks is raising funds and testing its software. It hopes tolaunch in February.

from New Scientist Press Release

From the Wikileaks site: "Wikileaks opens leaked documents up to a much more exacting scrutiny than any media organization or intelligence agency could provide. Wikileaks will provide a forum for the entire global community to examine any document for credibility, plausibility, veracity and falsifiability. They will be able to interpret documents and explain their relevance to the public."

Posted in Politics | Comments Off on Opening Up the Rabbit Hole

Honey, I Ate the Stamps

Posted by glasscastle on 11th January 2007

Stamps released in China to celebrate the Year of the Pig taste of sweet and sour pork.

When you scratch the front of the stamps, it smells of the popular chinese dish and when the back of the stamp is licked it tastes of the dish too.

The stamps are on sale in China ahead of their New Year on February 18, reports Metro.

from Ananova

This idea could really bail out the USPS, which has been losing business to UPS and Fed-Ex. How about a series of stamps honoring American Fast Food, that smell and taste like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Think of the potential corporate sponsorships!

Or how about a series of stamps featuring all 72 flavors of Baskin and Robbins ice cream? Or an educational "Just Say NO" series alerting kids to the smell and taste of marijuana, opium and crystal meth? They could even try a popular music based series with stamps like "Green Onions", "One More Cup of Coffee" or "Smells Like Teen Spirit"…

Posted in Wacky News | 2 Comments »