Archive for May, 2007
29 May 2007

Another Alligator Caught House Climbing

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Fred Bellet/TampaTribune

Tampa Tribune:

A 6- to 7-foot alligator drew a small crowd of incredulous onlookers Thursday evening in the Morningside neighborhood in Meadow Pointe.

As the reptile attempted to climb the stucco wall of a house, near several electrical boxes, a woman across the street said, “Oh my God.”

Pasco County sheriff’s Deputy Todd Koenig said his agency was called to a house on Morning Mist Drive about 6:15 p.m.

Compare this photo taken at Hilton Head in 2006.

What exactly do these uppity reptiles think they’re doing? Did they lean on trees in order to stand vertically before people came along and built houses, do you suppose?

28 May 2007

Book Dealer Burns His Own Books

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A Kansas City used-book dealer began burning his stock in protest of the public’s failure to purchase them, thus providing newspapers something to print and bloggers something to blog about.

ABC News:

Tom Wayne has amassed thousands of books in a warehouse during the 10 years he has run his used book store, Prospero’s Books.

His collection ranges from best sellers, such as Tom Clancy’s “The Hunt for Red October” and Tom Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities,” to obscure titles, like a bound report from the Fourth Pan-American Conference held in Buenos Aires in 1910. But when he wanted to thin out the collection, he found he couldn’t even give away books to libraries or thrift shops; they said they were full.

So on Sunday, Wayne began burning his books in protest of what he sees as society’s diminishing support for the printed word.

“This is the funeral pyre for thought in America today,” Wayne told spectators outside his bookstore as he lit the first batch of books.

The fire blazed for about 50 minutes before the Kansas City Fire Department put it out because Wayne didn’t have a permit for burning.

Wayne said next time he will get a permit. He said he envisions monthly bonfires until his supply estimated at 20,000 books is exhausted.

I expect he could have done a bit better if he computerized his inventory, and offered it for sale via the major Internet used book sites.

28 May 2007

Memorial Day


WWII Victory Medal

Joseph Zincavage (1907-1998) Navy
William Zincavage (1914-1997) Marine Corps
Edward Zincavage (1917-2002) Marine Corps
Eleanor Zincavage Cichetti (1922-2003) Marine Corps

28 May 2007

Tom Collins

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Eric Felten, in his weekly cocktail column in the Wall Street Journal, supplies the history.

The Tom Collins … got its start in the 19th century, named after a notorious hoax that spread in the summer of 1874.

The original prank went something like this: A friend would run into you on the street and, with great concern, tell you he just overheard someone named Tom Collins at a bar down the street saying hateful and libelous things about you. You race to that bar to confront the bounder, where you would be told that Tom Collins had just left for a bar several blocks away. When you get there, Collins would already have decamped for another joint across town. As you chase all over the city, your friends convulse with laughter.

Soon, not in on the joke, newspapers in cities across the country were reporting on people trying to find the scurrilous fellow. “Tom Collins Still Among Us,” the Decatur, Ill., Daily Republican reported in June 1874. “This individual kept up his nefarious business of slandering our citizens all day yesterday. But we believe that he succeeded in keeping out of the way of his pursuers. In several instances he came well nigh being caught, having left certain places but a very few moments before the arrival of those who were hunting him. His movements are watched to-day with the utmost vigilance.”

When the papers realized it was all a gag, they got in on the act. The Daily Republican kept playing along for months, gamely reporting that Collins had been spotted in San Luis Obispo, Calif., on his way to Arizona. “Next spring,” the paper predicted, Collins “will jauntily enter the South American republics.”

It doesn’t take much to imagine how Tom Collins came to be a drink. How many times does someone have to barge into a saloon demanding Tom Collins before the bartender takes the opportunity to offer him a cocktail so-named? Indeed, you have to wonder if the whole Tom Collins stunt wasn’t a marketing gimmick to promote pub-crawling.


1½ oz gin
Juice of ½ lemon
¼-½ oz simple syrup, or 1-2 tsp. sugar
2-3 oz soda water.
Build on the rocks in a short highball glass (what was once called, appropriately enough, a “Collins glass”). Garnish, if you like, with cherry, and orange or lemon slice.

28 May 2007

Medievalist Believes One of the Lost Princes in the Tower Survived

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A new book by David Baldwin, a lecturer at the University of Leicester advances the rather tenuous theory that Richard, Duke of York (b. 1473 – believed murdered 1483), the younger of the two sons of Edward IV imprisoned in the Tower was not murdered by his uncle Richard III, and was the bricklayer resident at St. John’s Abbey in Colchester known as Richard Plantagenet, who claimed to be an illegitimate child of Richard III, and who died after the dissolution of the monasteries at Eastwell in Kent in 1550.

Of course, the skeletons of two children were discovered in the tower in 1674. They were believed to be the remains of the lost princes, and were reburied in Westminster Abbey.

UK News

27 May 2007

European Raccoons’ Nazi Past

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Washington Post:

In 1934, top Nazi party official Hermann Goering received a seemingly mundane request from the Reich Forestry Service. A fur farm near here was seeking permission to release a batch of exotic bushy-tailed critters into the wild to “enrich the local fauna” and give bored hunters something new to shoot at.

Goering approved the request and unwittingly uncorked an ecological disaster that is still spreading across Europe. The imported North American species, Procyon lotor, or the common raccoon, quickly took a liking to the forests of central Germany. Encountering no natural predators — and with hunters increasingly called away by World War II — the woodland creatures fruitfully multiplied and have stymied all attempts to prevent them from overtaking the Continent. …

Raccoons have crawled across the border to infest each of Germany’s neighbors and now range from the Baltic Sea to the Alps. Scientists say they have been spotted as far east as Chechnya. British tabloids have warned that it’s only a matter of time until the “Nazi raccoons” cross the English Channel. …

The Germans call them Waschbaeren, or “wash bears,” because they habitually wash their paws and douse their food in water.

27 May 2007

Just Substitute Islamic Terrorism for Global Warming…

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And our liberal friends sound like they’re talking sense, observes Tim Blair.

Global warming alarmists actually make a great deal of sense. That is, once you imagine that every time they open their mouths they’re talking not about the environment but about Islamic terrorism. …

Al Gore’s hard-hitting documentary about the Islamist threat – An Inconvenient Faith – might face the occasional bombing attack, but would otherwise be crucial viewing for those wishing to be informed on the great menace of our age.

Let’s work through several typical greenoid statements to see this process at work, whereby formerly irrational and fear-mongering comments on global warming (confirmed kills: exactly zero) become entirely reasonable and defensible when framed as statements on Islamist terror (confirmed kills: many thousands and counting):

It doesn’t make sense for us to sit back and wait for others to act. The fate of the planet that our children and grandchildren will inherit is in our hands, and it is our responsibility to do something about this crisis.” – former US president Bill Clinton.

26 May 2007

Cat Eats With Fork, Spoon.. and Chopsticks


Her owner wanted company at the dinner table.


26 May 2007

Silver Surfer Declares War on US Treasury

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Marvel Comic’s most philosophic superhero, the Silver Surfer (sentinal of the skyways and herald of Galactus), has issued a challenge to the authority of the US Treasury by placing his own image on the American twenty-five cent piece, directly opposite the image of George Washington.

Is the Surfer trying to warn terrestrial authorities that the Earth is about to be consumed by his overlord Galactus?

Is he signalling the assertion of his own personal authority over “a world he never made” in a bid to eliminate mankind’s unfortunate propensities toward violence and irrationality?

Or, is it just a promotion intended to publicize the impending release of a new Hollywood film?

In any event, federal authorities have sworn vengeance.

26 May 2007

And We Thought Today’s American Kids Were Wimpy!

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Manichi Daily News reports that 11 Japanese kids were hospitalized by ghost stories.

UJI, Kyoto — Eleven junior high school students suffered hyperventilation and were rushed to hospital after talking about ghosts on a bus during a school trip Saturday afternoon, school officials said.

They are fully conscious and their conditions are not serious. Doctors said they suspect that the students suffered hyperventilation as a result of anxiety caused by the tales about ghosts.

26 May 2007

500 Years of Women in Art

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2:52 video morphs the female image in 5 centuries of paintings from Da Vinci to Picasso.

25 May 2007

One Manufactured Scandal, and More to Come

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Kimberly Strassel in the Wall Street Journal explains the game plan.

If there’s a smarter guy in Washington right now than Sen. Chuck Schumer, Republicans haven’t noticed. The New York Democrat is doggedly working to dismantle what’s left of the Bush presidency, with barely an ounce of pushback from the other side.

Mr. Schumer was the instigator of the Democrats’ probe into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, although note that the question of who fired which prosecutor is already yesterday’s news. The attorneys mess was just an opening, a hook that is now allowing Mr. Schumer to escalate into an assault on the wider administration, as well as presidential authority over key programs, such as wiretapping.

The ultimate goal? Surround the Bush presidency in a mist of incompetence and corruption, force Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to go, get a special prosecutor appointed to examine the many supposed misdeeds, and then sit back and ride the steady drip-drip of negative Bush headlines all the way to more Senate seats and the Oval Office.

25 May 2007

What Would Ronald Reagan Do?

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Ilya Somin at Volokh Conspiracy quotes Reagan’s 1989 Farewell Address:

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. (emphasis added)

and concludes himself:

Reagan’s positive attitude towards immigration was not just an isolated issue position, but was integrally linked to his generally optimistic and open vision of America. I would add that it also drew on his understanding that America is not a zero-sum game between immigrants and natives – just as he also recognized that it is not a zero-sum game between the rich and the poor. Immigration could promote prosperity and advancement for both groups in much the same way that free trade benefits both Americans and foreigners. Reagan probably did not have a detailed understanding of the economics of comparative advantage which underpins this conclusion. But he surely understood it intuitively. Those who reject Reagan’s position on immigration must, if they are to be consistent, also reject much of the rest of his approach to economic and social policy. Today’s conservatives can argue for immigration restrictions if they so choose. But they should not claim the mantle of Reagan in doing so.

25 May 2007

Celebrity Los Angeles Alligator Captured

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Sean Hiller/AP


One of America’s most-wanted has finally been caught… having spent the past two years lounging in a Los Angeles lake.

For months, the 6.5ft (2m) alligator called Reggie evaded authorities and was more headline news than the average A-list celebrity.

Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin had even offered to help nab Reggie at one point while the local newspaper kept a Reggie Watch on its masthead. He even inspired a song, two children’s books and innumerable T-shirts.

Every day, crowds of people converged on Harbor City’s Lake Machado hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive creature who was dumped in the park by its owner back in 2005.

But when his time was up – as he sunbathed in a secluded area of the park – Reggie refused to surrender without a fight.

In true Hollywood style, as TV helicopters hovered above and fans and paparazzi gazed on, Reggie thrashed around as six men attempted to restrain him while reptile expert Ian Recchio hooked its neck so the alligator’s jaws could be taped shut.

Reggie was then loaded onto a truck by firefighters bound for Los Angeles Zoo where he will be kept in quarantine for up to two months. Clearly fame doesn’t come without a price.

AP story:

Reggie was an illegal pet allegedly tossed into the 50-acre lake by a former policeman when it got too big. The officer pleaded not guilty in April to 14 misdemeanor charges and awaits trial.

When the animal was first spotted in the murky lake in August 2005, it became a sensation as crowds gathered to catch a glimpse. Locals named it Reggie, though it’s not clear whether the reptile is male or female.

Gloria and Danny Gutierrez said they would go to the lake several times a week and watch for Reggie. Gloria Gutierrez wore a white T-shirt decorated with the words “Welcome back, Reggie.”

“We’d bring our chairs out here and a bag of fruit, and we’d talk with people we didn’t even know,” Danny Gutierrez said.

The gator inspired a zydeco song, two children’s books and innumerable T-shirts. Students at Los Angeles Harbor College next to the lake adopted Reggie as a second mascot.

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