Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Catching Up: Best of 2005: May

Here's another installment in the continuing effort to distill the best postings from my personal mailing list. These are from May 2005. * * * * * Late-Night Political News from About.com "Laura Bush was a big hit at the White House Correspondents Dinner. This is something new for the Bush family -- intentional comedy." -- Jay Leno "President Bush said today that Social Security could be going bankrupt. He said the good news is that it won't happen for at least 50 years and by that time you won't even have to worry about Social Security because the temperature of the Earth will be 158 degrees." -- Jay Leno "Just 72 hours after President Bush met with Crown Prince Abdullah and held his hand, oil prices fell to under $50 a barrel. Boy, imagine if President Bush had let him get to second base -- we'd be paying like a buck-ten a gallon now." --Jay Leno "I guess you all heard about the big scare at the White House yesterday. You know about this? A false alarm about a plane violating White House airspace caused the Secret Service to evacuate the president from the Oval Office. That shows you how times have changed. Remember back in the '90s when an alarm just meant Hillary's coming?" --Jay Leno "Everybody was scared. The Bush twins were running, trying not to spill their margaritas." --David Letterman "This is absolutely true. During the scare Vice President Cheney was inside working while President Bush was outside riding his bicycle. So it was a typical day at the White House. Remember the last time this kind of thing happened, he was reading a children's book. This time he was riding a bicycle. How old is he -- 12? ... You laugh but as soon as they gave the all-clear he went into the kitchen to make himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich." --Jay Leno "President Bush and Russian President Putin discussed a plan to create a permanent cease fire in the Middle East. And if it works there they are going to try it on the Hollywood Freeway." --Jay Leno "In his biggest decision ever on the environment, President Bush has moved to open up 1/3 of all remote national forest lands to road building, logging, and other commercial adventures. This is part of the No Tree Left Behind program. In fact, if you'd like to see one of our giant Redwoods they'll be at Home Depot next weekend" -- Jay Leno "In honor of Cinco de Mayo down in Washington, Tom DeLay is accepting all bribes in pesos." --David Letterman "The new president of Iraq said that U.S. troops will probably be out of that country in two years. ... The bad news is they'll be next door in Iran." --David Letterman "Condoleezza Rice made a surprise trip to Iraq on Sunday. Also surprised to be in Iraq on Sunday: thousands of U.S. troops who were supposed to be home by Christmas." --Amy Poehler "The hand grenade thrown at President Bush turned out to be real. The Secret Service said today they're examining whether security changes need to be made. Duh! ... Somebody walks up and throws a hand grenade at the president and I can't get on a plane because I have a nose clipper -- hello? There's something wrong." --Jay Leno "Next Tuesday I have to testify in the Michael Jackson trial. I've been getting ready for my testimony all week. I've been drinking wine and looking at porno magazines." --Jay Leno "Newsweek had to retract a report about the Koran. The article caused violent anti-U.S. rioting in Muslim countries. And that's too bad because up until now they really loved us." --David Letterman, on Newsweek's story about U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay flushing a copy of the Koran down the toilet "The White House said today the Newsweek report has damaged the U.S. image overseas. And, believe me, when it comes to damaging the U.S. image overseas, the White House knows what it's talking about." --Jay Leno "According to a USA Today poll, 90% of people say prayer works very well for them in curing pain. Which is also the Republican health care plan. Keep praying!" --Jay Leno "In an unlikely pairing, Hillary Clinton made an appearance this week with Newt Gingrich to push a health care plan. The press is making a big deal out this thing with Newt but, hey, if anyone knows how to appear in public with a man she can't stand, it's Hillary." --Jay Leno "We got big trouble overseas. In Afghanistan they rioted because they got wind of the report that American soldiers flushed the Koran down the toilet. This is the kind of thing that makes us very unsafe because it makes jihadists want to kill us. But I got to give it to Halliburton, they make a heavy-duty toilet." --Bill Maher "It's the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. That was the war where our troops defeated the ruthless tyrant and then we actually left." --David Letterman * * * * * Websites of Note Suggested Names of Musical Bands A few examples: Adios Pantalones Afghanistan Banana Stand Almighty Lumberjacks of Death Armed and Hammered Army of Prawns Avenging Lawnmowers of Justice Throwpaper Timewaster Pay attention to which way the fan is blowing Clippings There's this blonde out for a walk. She comes to a river and sees another blonde on the opposite bank. "Yoo-hoo!" she shouts, "How can I get to the other side?" The second blonde looks up the river then down the river and shouts back, "You ARE on the other side." A highway patrolman pulled alongside a speeding car on the freeway. Glancing at the car, he was astounded to see that the blonde behind the wheel was knitting! Realizing that she was oblivious to his flashing lights and siren, the trooper cranked down his window, turned on his bullhorn and yelled, "PULL OVER!" "NO!" the blonde yelled back, "IT'S A SCARF!" Excerpts from a New York Times article, which I headed with the words "Reminder: Sell Your House": Having been sanguine about real estate in recent years, Mr. Greenspan began to change his tone in March, when he cited some analysts' concern that the housing market might "implode." A nursing dog foraging for food retrieved an abandoned baby girl in a forest in Kenya and carried the infant to its litter of puppies, witnesses said Monday. The stray dog carried the infant across a busy road and a barbed wire fence in a poor neighborhood near the Ngong Forests in the capital, Nairobi, Stephen Thoya told the independent Daily Nation newspaper. The world's oceans have an enormous amount of what is called thermal inertia - a phenomenon that means that the effects of climactic changes are manifested very slowly. The cumulative impact of the past 150 years or so of greenhouse gases emitted during industrial development is only now starting to warm the planet, and that warming will continue long after we have created sensible policies to reduce greenhouse gases. So no matter what we do, a wave of climate change exiles is inevitable. One option for dealing with this is to tighten our borders and inure ourselves to the exiles' cries for help. A more sensible, and just, approach is for the top greenhouse gas emitters - including China and India - to grant entry to the up to 200 million people who could lose their homes to rising seas by 2080. KEARNY, N.J., May 7 - It is the deadliest target in a swath of industrial northern New Jersey that terrorism experts call the most dangerous two miles in America: a chemical plant that processes chlorine gas, so close to Manhattan that the Empire State Building seems to rise up behind its storage tanks. According to federal Environmental Protection Agency records, the plant poses a potentially lethal threat to 12 million people who live within a 14-mile radius. Yet on a recent Friday afternoon, it remained loosely guarded and accessible. Dozens of trucks and cars drove by within 100 feet of the tanks. A reporter and photographer drove back and forth for five minutes, snapping photos with a camera the size of a large sidearm, then left without being approached. In the past 15 years, mortgage and home-equity borrowing has risen from 35.1% of home values to 43.9%. That has made families, especially those with unskilled workers, more vulnerable to a catastrophic jolt such as job loss or serious illness. Personal bankruptcies increased fivefold from 1980 to 2002, with many filers citing a layoff or medical emergency as the tipping point. Borowitz Report Excerpts Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told reporters at the Pentagon today that the conflict in Iraq had improved to the point that it could no longer be considered a quagmire and should now be thought of as a morass. . . . The Defense Secretary said that the decision to invade Iraq could no longer be considered "a boneheaded mistake of unthinkable proportions" and should now be thought of as "a colossal error we will regret for years to come." "That's a measure of how much things have improved," he said. "Anyone who takes a look at the big picture over there would come away saying that the situation is disastrous but not catastrophic." . . . Mr. Rumsfeld appeared to bristle at the question of one reporter, Charles Dolgian of the Toledo Blade, who asked if it was still appropriate to refer to the war in Iraq as "a train wreck." "It is most decidedly not a train wreck," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "It is a train derailment in which the train hurtles down the embankment and bursts into flames." Mexican President Vicente Fox and Harvard University President Lawrence Summers today announced ambitious plans to collaborate on what they called "the most insulting remark ever made by a public figure." . . . Mr. Fox, who insulted both Mexicans and American blacks in a comment made Friday, and Mr. Summers, who outraged women with remarks made earlier this year, appeared ebullient at the prospect of working together to offend everyone on the planet. "We have been big fans of each other's work for a long, long time," President Fox said. "To finally be able to work with Larry to create what we are hoping is the most retarded gaffe in the history of the world is a dream come true." While most observers called the joint venture of the two loose-lipped public figures an inspired pairing, one leading producer of offensive gaffes, radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, said he felt "hurt" and "excluded." Pilot Tests Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!" Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!" Tower: "TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees." TWA 2341: "Center, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?" Tower: "Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?" O'Hare Approach Control to a 747: "United 329 heavy, your traffic is a Fokker, one o'clock, three miles, Eastbound." United 329: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this...I've got the little Fokker in sight." A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, "What was your last known position?" Student: "When I was number one for takeoff." A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out after touching down. San Jose Tower Noted: "American 751, make a hard right turn at the end of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadeloupe exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport." The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listened to the following exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747, call sign Speedbird 206. Speedbird 206: "Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway." Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven." The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop. Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?" Speedbird 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location now." Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?" Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark -- and I didn't land."