14 Things About the Poobah

In the interest of helping you, the reader, know more about the Poobah, we thought we'd steal an idea from the various permutations of sites like 43 Things, 100 Things, Lies I've Told Myself, Six Big Lies About Sex, etc. and provide a little information that would illuminate your understanding of us.

To whit:
  1. We've visited Uruguay, Midway Island, and South Korea. In fact, we've visited 25 countries located on all the continents except Australia and Antarctica. All in all, many were quite nice, but many we'd be happy to never see again.
  2. We were once a timpanist. It's a long story, but suffice it to say that we were not a popular kid in high school.
  3. We have worked at many jobs including paperboy, soda fountain clerk, airplane mechanic, art director/production manager, writer, photographer, musician, focus group tester, amusement park ride builder, janitor, and several other jobs that for the sake of propriety we won't mention here. In the course of this extensive career we don't feel we've mastered any of these things, but have learned just enough to become dangerous.
  4. We don't sleep much. On average we get about 5-6 hours of sleep per night/day which is up considerably from the 2-3 hours we got during our 20s. We once stayed awake for 75 hours straight and had trouble going to sleep when we finally laid down.
  5. We lost our virginity at the age of 20. We weren't saving it for anyone in particular, we just couldn't find anyone to take it off our hands. What can we say? We grew up in a different time.
  6. We've seen several celebrities, including Tony Dow, Jonathan Frakes, Clarence Clemmons, Pete Rose, Gordie Howe, and several local newscasters in airports or on airplanes. We think Clarence is quite the conversationalist.
  7. We once found a snake in the process of eating a frog. The frog, legs kicking wildly, was halfway down when we found it. It's not a Crocodile Hunter-quality story, but then we were 10 years old at the time.
  8. We once found a large tibia while beachcombing and convinced friends that it was human. It might actually have been for all we know.
  9. We once kept our tonsils in a jar. They were discarded after about 20 years because the alcohol in the jar evaporated. Tonsils, ours anyway, look like soggy popcorn.
  10. At various times when we were younger, we seriously toyed with the idea of becoming an oceanographer, a standup comedian, a stuntman, a war correspondent, and a chef. We think it is telling that we never became any of those things, but did manage to do the things listed in item number 3.
  11. Our grandmother, mother, and sister were all schizophrenics and they are probably just the ones we know about. We are from a demonstrably shallow gene pool and we think it shows.
  12. We saw the last steam train service depart the station from the shoulders of Poobah Sr. We think this makes us sound older than we actually are, but it shows just how interesting our life has been.
  13. We have owned four dogs - King Domino I (a Boston Terrier), Roscoe P. Beagle (a hound of uncertain origin who went blind suddenly during an afternoon nap), Gandalf's Heartbreak (aka Chrisse Q. Retriever, a Golden Retriever), and Fiona (no last name because she doesn't seem to need one, she is a Shar Pei/Yellow Lab mix that we call a Sharbrador). All of the dogs provided more enjoyment and companionship than any 50 humans put together. Our life would have been a much gloomier place without them.
  14. We don't much care for cats. We had one as a child that attacked us at will and as a result, we bought a copy of 101 Uses for a Dead Cat. That pretty much sums it up on the cat front.

We hope you've found every one of these absolutely true facts interesting and enlightening. If you have any further questions, we'll be happy to answer them. And please, feel free to tell these at the local pub. We're sure it will make you a favorite among the hardcore barflies.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, July 29, 2005

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Let's Do Lunch

The Poobah's social calendar has been a bit thin as of late. You might think that being unemployed and having a completely flexible schedule would mean an increase in dining invites. Instead, it really means I'm out of sight, out of mind. So it was with great relish that I went to meet three of my former coworkers - PM, SM, and DG - for lunch at a little Japanese place near their offices. Since it was the first time I'd been out with friends in nearly six months, it was quite the treat.

It was good to see the girls again. For the past 10 years, I've worked primarily with women and over time they've begun to treat me more like another one of them than as a man. I don't mean that in a negative way - quite the contrary - I see it as a sort of honor. They long ago started discussing many things with - and in front of me - that are normally reserved for other women. Relationships and their troubles, great places to get those
kicky new shoes, babies (who's having them and who's not), gossip, and other complaints of the feminine kind - if you catch my drift.

It's not that the conversation is all femecentric though. PM talked about her efforts to walk a marathon, but has decided not to follow through on a previous impulse to be a life coach. SM has finished her holistic health degree and is thinking of going for her master's. She's still undecided about doing it as a career. DG talked about her daughter and insurance rates and asked me what was up with me. Our group discussions also covered
cadavers (a little squeamishly), television, pop culture, and online dating services. Since male conversations usually center on baseball, football, or basketball (depending on the season) it was nice to get a little variety.

One of the few things I've missed about not working is precisely this sort of human contact. A little mental stimulation to take my mind out of the house in a way that is difficult with my family. I love both
Mrs. Poobah and Daughter Poobah dearly, but ours is a much different relationship, based more on the ebb and flow of our home lives and interrelationships and less on the world outside. The relationship I have with the girls - including others who weren't there today - is different. Even more so, I think, because it gives me the chance to view the world through a woman's eyes at least for a few moments. That's a rare treat indeed.

The lunch also made me consider the kinds of relationships I have. I'd describe myself as a bit anti-social, though I'm told I hide that fairly well. I freely admit that people are not my favorite mammals and the overwhelming majority of my friendships include at least a bit of distance for my own comfort. The intriguing thing to me is the number of friendships I've been able to sustain for relatively long periods, despite sometimes having scant contact.

Somehow, I've developed a cadre of friends - both male and female - that I can easily revisit and pick up where we left off. The conversations aren't forced. We're still able to find shared interests. We can still engage in a relatively stress-free and comfortable way. I think this is probably more a testament to their ability to be friends and than to my ability to sustain my own attention and overcome my natural impulse to not participate. I suppose that if it weren't for them, my anti-social side would win and I'd be pissing in alleyways or
living alone under an overpass somewhere.

So girls, if you're reading this I just wanted to say thanks for lunch, and everything else. And by the way, I just found this
great little place that has the cutest belts.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, July 27, 2005

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John Bolton - Great Boss or Great Diplomat?

John "I Am the Walrus" Bolton's name fought its way back through the busy media curtain today in a story suggesting that King Dumbya may appoint him ambassador to the UN while Congress is on its summer recess - a tactic that would bring new meaning to the phrase "what I did on my summer vacation".

You'll remember Revoltin' Bolton as the psychopathic arms negotiator/Republican lawyer in the Florida recounts as the man who believes there is no place for the United Nations. Apparently, this makes him the perfect candidate for the job of ambassador to said organization according to many G-O-PeePees.

He's also the guy that provided such great entertainment during his confirmation hearings.

It seems "Laughin' " John had a penchant for throwing temper tantrums if he didn't get his way. Stories included one where he chased a staffer through a hotel and hammered on her door with a shoe because she wasn't supporting his position strongly enough. John also caught the eye of his boss Colin Powell, who kept him on such a short leash that all of his public statements had to me approved by the SecState before he was allowed to speak to actual human beings. His new boss, Condi Rice, promises to keep him on an equally short leash as a way to placate concerns about his abysmal behavior. Gee, he sounds better all the time doesn't he?

Most of Capt. Kangaroo's confirmation hearings centered on his less-than-admirable behavior toward his co-workers rather than his other poor credentials for the job. There were dozens of stories about him berating junior analysts, screaming at co-workers, and vociferously arguing the point with superiors after it was clear that he had lost the argument. Apparently, some Repugnant Repubs thought his mistreatment of others was as hearty a recommendation as his belief that the institution to which he was being nominated didn't need to exist. US allies were, of course, thrilled about this nomination.

The Poobah isn't particularly surprised that these Repubs, who will be the future lobbyists and CEOs for large companies, feel that way. They are steeped in a long tradition of powerful people with huge egos who can't seem to get along with "the little people" (and we don't mean midgets). It seems that, in the business world at least, anti-social behavior is what gets you ahead. Think Enron, where Ken Lay and his energy traders giggled as they "screwed poor old Aunt Millie in California" while swearing on a stack of well-used Bibles that they had no part in the energy shell game going on that hot summer in the West. Think Martha Stewart, who fought her way to the top through sheer tenaciousness and a mean streak that would make a wolverine wince. Think Dennis Kozlowski, he of the $6000 shower curtain, the Roman bacchanal, and mistaker of large corporations for very large piggy banks. Heck, even GE's ex-CEO and current business Golden Boy was known as "Neutron Jack" for his ability, like a neutron bomb, to kill all the people without touching the buildings.

No, we think John will fit right in, though he'll have to work a little on his non-existent smile. It's important in the Bush administration that you learn to smile - or in George's case smirk - when you talk to the, "peeble of this You-Nigh-Ted-States of Umerca". He'll also need to learn to toe the line, bite his large and active tongue, and support the Commander and Cowboy at all costs. That is the get out of jail free card he'll need to protect him when he blabs something he isn't supposed to. Not that an Ambassador to the United Nations, who has such a great regard for the organization, would ever do anything to jeopardize its mission. Just ask Karl, "I'm the Soul of Discretion" Rove.

So here's to John. May he learn to smile, buy good quality shoes for those doors he'll need to bang on, and continue to hone his fine managerial qualities. I hear there'll be some openings for talented ex-government servants at Halliburton in a few years and he looks like a very, VERY strong condidate.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, July 26, 2005

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What Goes Down Sometimes Comes Up

The problems all started this weekend when Mrs. Poobah flushed the toilet and let out an otherworldly scream. "Poooo! (meaning me, the Poobah, not the actual poo) there's shit in the shower."

"Oh shit," I said in a statement of the obvious. "I'll get the plunger and see what I can do." After all, there's nothing I like better than a little plumbing early on a Sunday morning. I was stoked, let me tell you. It isn't often a suburban male is presented with such a testosterone-fueled test of masculinity.

After some furious pumping, all I managed to accomplish was to flush more shit into the shower, the bathtub, and the sinks. I'm not sure, but I think some of it might even have come up in the dog's water dish. It was time for a call to Roto-Rooter - "and away go troubles down the drain". Alas, if it were only true.

Six hours, two rooter heads, and several calls for a backup from a crack SWAT team of special forces plumbers later, I was presented for a bill for $1118 and the great news that there was a collapse in my sewer pipe at some indeterminate point between my house and the main, about 200 ft and two neighboring backyards away. To find it, we would apparently need a "locator specialist" equipped with more high-tech equipment than a nuclear submarine.

He arrived this morning and finished his work in quick order. I guess you can do that when you have about $12 million worth of equipment. After 10 minutes he presented me with a shrug and an estimate of $6200 to dig up the pipe and determine if it could be fixed. Now $6200 seems like a big sum for a hole in the ground, but it is my good fortune that this will be no regular hole.

It will be six feet deep, dug by hand because there is no way to get heavy equipment to it. It will be on the side of a steep hill that will require shoring to guard against collapse. It will be dug carefully because is is about six inches from the footing for my two story deck. A large flower box and a healthy crop of weeds will have to be removed as well.

Once the hole is opened, they'll know whether the problem can be fixed. That's right, $6200 to figure out if they can fix the problem. If so, they will replace a small section of pipe and continue clearing the line, running the chance we may uncover another break farther down (the good news). If they can't, they'll need to drive a new pipe through our backyard, under a fence and drainage culvert, through two more backyards (necessitating removing their fences as well), into the street below, and 12-15 feet down to the main (the not-so-good news).

In addition, two different sanitation districts are arguing over who owns the main, which lays directly on top of the dividing line between the districts. We'll probably need mediators from the State Department to solve the ownership issue. The construction of the Hoover Dam may not have been this complex. I'm not sure if they will need to call in the Army Corps of Engineers or not.

Now you may be gasping at my ill-fortune at this point. But for me, this is just another day if home ownership. Over the past 20 years I've had to disassemble a wall to get to a cleanout trap, remove a yard-sized, plastic pool lining from under my lawn, and cope with a scalding pipe that burst at 2 am, ruining a freshly cleaned carpet, a newish sofa, and scalding our dog. I'm old and wizened in the ways of the home owner. For me this is another yawn, albeight an expensive one.

It will be another three weeks before we can get it fixed (we're going back East in a few days). I'll keep you posted on our progress. Perhaps I'll create a little JavaScript "shit counter" that runs like one of those "national debt clocks" you see. However, I am troubled that the known prime numbers may not go high enough to make it work.

Like they say, "when it rains, it pours". Man, I wish I could my hands on that little Morton Salt bitch.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, July 25, 2005

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Vengeance is Mine - A Cautionary Tale

This story is true. There are no names and there are no innocents to protect. Hence, no need to change any names.

My first vehicle was a 1956 Ford F-150 pickup truck that was converted to a flatbed. In a previous life it had been one of Ma Bell's finest, with one of those old-fashioned square toolbox backs that looked like an onlive green ice cream truck. I suppose that today some enterprising young chap would have kept the tool bed and started selling drugs out of the back. My teenage years were a simpler time.

It was the best vehicle $150 could buy. Plenty of rust. Missing running boards. Inoperable turn signals. Some foam stuck to the driver's seat with duct tape to compensate for missing stuffing. Later, the rear-end differential would crap out and I would discover the engine block was cracked. Not high-class - but hey! - it was mine.

One day I pulled into a convenience store so that one of my underage friends could could try unsuccessfully to buy beer or cigarettes or some other delinquent enterprise. As I sat in the cab, poised for a quick getaway, a Cadillac convertible pulled in. It was avocado green and sported the most mammoth fins Caddy ever turned out. There was more chrome on it than a Presidential limo from Paraguay. It hurt your eyes just to look at it.

It was driven by an old lady - actually, a not-unattractive, 30-something MILF. She wore rhinestone-encrusted cat eye sunglasses, a pink chiffon scarf over her stiff blond hair, and a tight leopard skin outfit. She was smoking a Virginia Slim, presumably because she'd come a long way baby. She looked liked Thelma, minus Louise.

As she exited her car, she flung the door open in a powerful arch. Weighing in at about the same as a bank vault door, it hit the truck so hard that I rocked to the side. I envisioned serious damage, but wasn't overly concerned. I knew the truck was a piece of shit. It was more interested in the principle of civility involved.

Quiet descended over the parking lot as I awaited an apology. But, all I heard was the clicking of her stilettos as she walked into the store. I was left enveloped in a thick cloud of Taboo perfume and a slow burning rage.

Now, I'm usually a peaceable sort. Even as a teenager I was slow to anger. I figured maybe she had somehow missed the solid bang of the sheet metal behemoths crashing into each other. Besides she was an adult and you just can't go around arguing with them. Who knows what craziness could ensue? I was pretty miffed, but I kept my teenage cool.

Shortly, she returned to her car. She grabbed that ugly, giant thing and swung it open a second time. Incredibly, it crashed into my door again. Charged with a fresh pack of smokes and ginormous Slurpee, she busied herself with the apparently long, airliner-like check list required to start that 4,000 lb. monster. The rhinestones on her sunglasses sparkled prettily in the sun and her scarf fluttered in the breeze. I didn't hear a peep.

I sat there stunned.

Then I found words..."HEY! LADY!," I shouted through my open window.

No response.

"HEEEYYYYY! BIATCH," I shouted (maybe using for the first time this now-popular slang). "DO YOU HAVE A...PROBLEM?!!!!???"

Still no response. Not even a dismissive flick of the pretty blond head.

I sat there even more stunned.

Then, I did an amazing thing. Something so shocking that even all these years later I can't believe I did this to a living, breathing adult.

I slowly opened my door and climbed down. I walked over to the front of her car hood and lightly tapped on the hood as if on someone's front door. She looked up, slightly puzzled.

Then, I did it.

SMASH!!! I kicked her LEFT headlight out. I slowed walked over to the RIGHT headlight. SMASH!!! Glass tinkled to the pavement. Her jaw dropped as I said in a very pleasant voice, "Oh my. I'm sorry. See lady. That's what one says when one accidentally makes a mistake. I'm sure you'll understand."

I quietly walked back to my truck and climbed aboard as the sun silhouetted me against the horizon. I felt very powerful. I think I heard the clink of spurs as I walked. The woman continued to stare, but never said a word.

My friend returned and climbed in. "What happened?"

"Oh, nothing," I said with am exaggerated southern drawl. "My work here is done. Let's roll."

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, July 24, 2005

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10 Things That Piss Me Off

  1. People who park their shopping carts in the middle of the friggin' aisle and stand there as though they are the only person in the store. I mean, how much brain power can it take to find a can of tuna fish for Chrissakes?

  2. Cher, because she scares me. Meryl Streep because, well, she's Meryl Streep. Xuxa, the Brazilian Playboy model turned kid's show host because I just have this thing about kid's show hosts. They're just icky, OK.

  3. Stephen King. A casual correspondent once told me that I was her favorite writer after Stephen King. I may be a hack, but I was INSULTED! Stephen, it's about quality, not quantity.

  4. The fact that they don't offer cars with optional rocket launchers. We can get everything from mini-IMAX theatres to microwaves in a car yet they won't offer something as useful as rocket launchers. GM! ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME? TOYOTA? DON'T PISS ME OFF!

  5. Insurance companies. Oh sure, they're all nice and cuddly in the commercials but where the hell are they when something happens. It's the only business that I can think of that makes money by having you bet against yourself...think about it. It'll come to you.

  6. The Family Circus comic. No family could possibly be that dysfunction-free. That Billy is going to grow up to be a mass murdering flesh eater if you ask me. Really, have you ever noticed the similarity between Jeffrey Dahmer and that kid? It's uncanny.

  7. Pat Robertson. This is a guy who once claimed to pray that a hurricane veer away from his home office in Virginia. Of course, the folks in South Carolina and Florida didn't think that was such a swell talk with God.

  8. Dick Cheney, because people that evil should stay in Wyoming where they can't hurt anyone.

  9. Karl Rove because tattletales are just the worst.

  10. Cowboy George and the horse he rode in on because the horse is smarter and George has permanently ruined cowboy movies for me. Lone Ranger, where were you when we needed you?

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, July 22, 2005

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Give Terrorists a Great Big Yawn

The news brings word of another spate of terrorist bombings in London. Two weeks to the day from the after batch, another four have gone off in the Underground and on a bus. Luckily, this time there weren't any injuries. Early reports indicate that the bombs didn't go off because of a poor plastique mixture leaving only the detonators to make some bangs and scare the bejeezus out of people.

I continue to be impressed at the reaction of Londoners. They seem to take it in stride and not make it into too big a deal. I'm listening to traffic reports from London and they are already opening streets and tube stations, only hours after the hullabaloo. The news actually takes time for commercials, unlike the breathless, wall-to-wall coverage the American media provides. I'm not usually a big fan of commercials, but at times like these they are oddly comforting.

I watched Tony Blair make his obligatory statement and was impressed at the difference between his calm and measured response versus King George's stunned in the headlights reaction on September 11 - or for that matter his almost daily speeches since. Instead of vowing war and international manhunts he simply said he and his government had things under control, he would try to get to the bottom of it, and that people should just go about their business lest the terrorists get what they want - to terrorize people.

That last bit can't be underestimated. Terrorists don't actually have to do anything now. They can just threaten and get the same result. A little nudge like today's now and again is enough to keep terror in the wind where it can continue to scare people. The terrorists know that scared people don't concentrate on trying to catch them, they run around doing things like creating huge, unwieldy Homeland Security Departments, flashing meaningless color-coded bars on television, and passing dubious security bills like the un-Patriot Act. Despite all his tough talk about this being war, I'm afraid our Commander and Scaredy Cat isn't doing anything but roiling the waters to keep our attention focused on that instead of all the other things we should be concentrating on - including doing something useful about terrorist attacks.

I'm of a mind that changing our foreign policy would be a good thing, but I'm also not enough of a Pollyanna to think that would make the terrorist problem go away. Nutcases are nutcases and by definition wouldn't respond to such a clear cause and effect mechanism. Whether the US wholeheartedly supported Islamic extremists or not is of little consequence. They would continue to do what they do. At the same time, I also believe that permanently warping our society to make them "easier" to catch isn't a worthwhile strategy either. We don't need more security cameras (it hasn't stopped bombers in well-watched London). We don't need to change our laws so that some homegrown government nutcase can ask the library when I lasted checked out a copy of Little House on the Prairie. We didn't need to reorganize hundreds of dense bureaucracies into a single, even-denser mega-bureaucracy like Homeland Insecurity. We don't need to declare war on the rest of the world. And, we don't need to spend billions of dollars trying to make travel secure when by definition, it can't be. We need common sense. We need a little courage in the face of some terrible bullies. And, we need to deal with terrorists plots as they come, shutting them down ahead of time when possible and finding and punishing them after the fact if necessary.

Despite Shrub's contention that the world is a different place now - one that requires an ongoing "war on terrorism" - it isn't. There have always been terrorists and there probably always will be. I'd like to call on all Americans to send their most sincere sympathies to our British brethren, help them catch the evil-doers if we can, and take a page from their handling of the situation. It's time for Americans to grow a backbone and get on with the business of being Americans, which is the surest path to security we could possible take.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, July 21, 2005

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This Blogging Thing

Many of you have mentioned - a little sheepishly it seems - that this is the first blog you've ever read. Don't fret, you aren't alone. Several studies report that as few as 11% of some demographic populations are regular readers. I'm a newbie myself, still trying to learn all the technology and wrap my arms around what blogging is and where this particular blog should go. I've certainly got lots of examples to choose from. The blogosphere is certainly rich if nothing else.

I'm not even sure exactly why I started it, short of being unemployed leaving extra time on my hands. However, I suspect a desire to burn a little time isn't really the reason for me. It's too simple and doesn't address some of the struggles I face with this newfound hobby.

It's been quite some time since I spent any lengthy period writing anything except for the mundane memos and newsletters, booklets and briefing materials connected with my "professional" writing career. Most of that is certainly not what I'd point proudly to if asked to tick off my greatest hits, even if I'm forced to it in interviews. I mean, convincing someone of yet another corporate program or scheme I don't even believe in myself seems a bit of a dubious distinction. In fact, you might argue that the better I've done it, the worse it feels.

I came back to writing partially because I found I missed the sense of pleasure it gave me and because I needed to overcome the prolonged bout of writer's - or maybe creator's - block I was having. For years when I sat down at the keyboard nothing came. Even when I felt compelled to write, I couldn't squeeze anything out. I felt dried out and used up and fearful of the thing I once enjoyed so much. Clearly, I needed to do something. I guess this was it.

Since I've been back to writing in a semi-regular way I've produced quite a lot. Some of it absolute swill and some of it not-so-bad. I would consider none of it "good". I feel I'm doing well to reach "acceptable" on a good day. I still get the heebie jeebies and miss a few days here and there as a result. But, it's getting easier, even if I'm not up to snuff yet.

One of the things I keep asking myself is a variation on the old, "If a tree fell in the forest..." question. If I write a blog an no one reads it, is it OK? I'm not sure I know the answer.

There is a part of me that doesn't care, in fact, even might prefer, that others don't read what I'm writing. I'm always self-conscious about what I write. Despite my Omnipotent Poobah moniker I'm usually not very confident. People sometimes try to bolster me with nice words, but I find it hard to share their view. On the inside of the confident exterior is a bit of a scaredy cat.

There is another part of me that does care. Maybe I like the strokes I get more than I think. Maybe deep down I really do think I have something to say and the ability to say it well. I can't really say I understand it very well. That line of thought, like the blog continues to evolve.

I suppose that at this point I'll just leave it at being happy to be back, sort of, hope that enough people drop in to sustain a dialog, and keep on plugging. Most of you readers know me, so if you can shed some light on this confused sole, just click the comments button below. I could use the help.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Tuesday, July 19, 2005

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Interesting Gleanings

It's Sunday. I read some magazines today. In the process I learned a few things:

  • Proctor & Gamble just paid Gillette CEO Jim Kilts $164 million as part of a deal to go away quietly in the wake of a merger between the two companies. On a different page in the same issue of Business Week there was also a report that the ousted CEO of Morgan Stanley is being paid $32 million to cover the 15 weeks - that's weeks, not years - he spent toiling away in his deluxe cubicle. That works out to a whopping $53,000 per hour if you assume he put in a 40-hour week. I'm guessing he probably didn't or he would still have a job. Both payoffs were made to encourage "management stability".

    What would they pay to destabilize a place? Obviously, I'm in the
    wrong line of business.

  • My former employer, oft-sued and beaten Visa USA, recently came up with a replacement for outgoing CEO Carl Pascarella. Big Carl announced he was retiring weeks after kicking off a "spin-back after a spin-off "of Inovant, Visa's technology subsidiary. (Insert joke about rats deserting a sinking ship here.)

    John Coghlan a former Charles Schwab exec took the job because, "I always wanted to be a CEO". That seems like a swell reason to me. The eminently qualified Coghlan apparently has no payment card experience other than as a cardholder. However, Biz Week reports that he did, "stress his experience as a founder of San Francisco Grocery Express, a now-defunct delivery business that accepted Visa cards."

    Well, that ought to set Visa up for the formidable legal and economic challenges that lay ahead - a guy who had the same stupid idea as Webvan, except less-successful.

    Visa insiders will be pleased to hear that Coghlan's mug shot in Biz Week shows the same -spray-on tan and ill-fitting toupe that Carl had. Apparently these are passed down as administrations change, much like the Mace of State in the British Empire. No word on whether he had to stand on a box to be seen during the interview.

  • Canadian newsmag Maclean's reports that women appear 10 years younger to men if the scent of grapefuit is in the air. No word on what makes men look better to women, but I'm guessing from the behavior of Anna Nicole Smith that it might be the smell of money.

  • Crimes involving guns are rare in our neighbor to the north and I think I've found the reason why. A 46-year old Alberta man, who ambushed and killed four RCMP officers, was found to be wearing two pairs of pants, five layers of shirts and jackets, and black socks over his boots when he died. For Chrissakes, no wonder he couldn't shoot. He must have moved like the Michelin man and the sweat from all those layers blinded him.

  • The answer to the Chrysler ad's question, "That thing got a Hemi?", is apparently yes. Hemi-powered snowblowers and paper-shredders were among the entries in a recent Chrysler contest, but the winner was an enormous Hemi-powered Big Wheel. The trike sported enough power to tow a building and had a custom four-foot big wheel and wheelie bars borrowed from a dragster to keep it from tipping over when it accelerated.

    I'm thinking the guy who won is compensating just a little, teeny, tiny, bit too much about shortfalls in other areas. If you know what I mean.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, July 17, 2005

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Video May Have Killed the Radio Star But It's Time For Some Payback

Way back at the dawn of the video era, MTV started their programming off with a quick clip of a Saturn V rocket blasting off the pad accompanied by the song Video Killed the Radio Star. Judging from the sad state of music videos these days, it may just be time for the radio stars to get some payback.

It's been many years since MTV was actually music television. Now it's more often than not an endless wasteland of bad reality shows. I'm tired of living the Real World because it's anything but - a carefully ethnically/sexually-mixed group of 20-somethings in a showcase apartment located in some world class city? Yeah, that's real. I don't want to be Punk'd ever again - Ashton Kutcher should go home to Demi like a good little boy. My tolerance with Cribs, Jackass and any number of other stupid-ass shows is razor thin. Oddly enough, I do find Xzbit an engaging guy and regularly watch Pimp My Ride. True, I'm not the target demographic, but I don't think one middle-aged white guy is going to screw things up too badly. Go figure.

I haven't regularly watched music videos since I worked a night shift and was off all day in the early 80s. Soaps haven't been my cup of tea since I used to watch The Edge of Night with Mom while nodding off for my afternoon nappie. Frankly, I just never understood that Susan Lucci thing and really only watched for the commercials anyway. Mr. Clean, the Scrubbing Bubbles. Now there was time wasting at its best.To plug this egregious gap in my pop culture knowledge I've been tuning in to videos more often lately. What strikes me is how absolutely crappy they've become. Sure, there's been lots of decay in pop culture since the early 80s, but some of the newest videos are taking on a special aura of shitiness that's so visible it shows up as cartoon stink waves on the screen.

Take R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet. Please.

This video is so bad on so many levels that it may become the Plan 9 From Outer Space of the video world. Kelly, who bills this thing an "urban opera", said, "I didn't go in the studio and say, "Hey, I'm finnin' to write a musical opera." I'm guessing he wasn't "finnin" to do much of anything because this thing ja sucks. The video is a sort of extended, wandering R&B rap that is so long-winded and confusing that it takes five separate video chapters just to get started. Kelly recently announced he'll be making chapters 6-10 soon. Yea, I'm sure that will really clear things up.

Despite the fact that this CD opened at Billboard's No. 1, I can't believe anyone is taking this guy seriously. Even my daughter, who actually is in his target demographic (which is a truly scary thought given his proliclivities for young girls), finds it laughable. I knew I must have taught that kid something useful.

I suppose I am just an agitated old coot, but sometimes these things just need to be said - so here goes, "R. please...please...STAY in the closet will you? If I laugh any harder my double bypass will rip open.

"You don't want the blood of an old white guy on your hands now, do you?

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, July 16, 2005

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A Pickle Wrapped in a Quandary

Some days I start to write and the ideas just flow. Other days it's more like a long, depressing ride on a bumpy road, but I somehow manage to pull something together. Still other days I'm just brain dead. Guess which sort of day I'm having today.

I'm in a bit of a pickle. While I've got several good ideas for a post, none of them is sufficiently interesting to get me going on it. I could write about Karl "Turd Blossom" Rove, but everyone's doing that and I hate to follow the pack like some crazed CNN newshound (Doesn't Anderson Cooper just give you the willies?). Besides, the outcome is already set. Turd Blossom will live to lay a live, stinking one another day, like the true manure spreader he is Witness the long and distinguished careers of Rummy, the Big Dick and John "I Never Saw a Breast I Liked" Ashcroft - also known as the man who lost an election to a corpse.

I had a good idea about how, in American business at least, there seems to be a legal place for everyone's interests in a bankruptcy except for the employees. The Top Dogs get the Golden Parachutes. The stockholders get paid before everyone else because they took the "risk" of investing - although it seems to me that part of the "risk" is that you may, duh, lose your money. The government gets their cut because, well, they write the rules. And the biggest and final chunk goes to lawyers who help, or pay, the government write the rules (I bet the lawyers even make money when they go bankrupt). In the end the employees are always last in line, a life savings short and completely powerless to do anything about the massive screwing they were taking in their everyday work life that continued on into the bankruptcy.

I could do another canned Bush rant, but it's just too easy these days.

I thought of a rant on Herr Gropenator, but the Austrian Asshole is even easier than Bush. His approval ratings are in the toilet and with any luck some dumbass will soon raise money to have him recalled.

There's the "Anti" Patriot Act, flag burning and what a dipshit Tom Delay is. I was going to do a Randy Cunningham thing, but he did the right thing and decided to ship out - on in his case defense contractor paid yacht - before it docks at the Alcatraz Yacht Club. Martha Stewart is just pathetic and Bob Dole on erectile dysfunction is just plain wrong.

There's the guy who took the trouble to stop by and chastise me for flying an Australian flag instead of an American one. As he was ripping me for being "unamerican" I asked him about whether the Hawaiian flag I was al flying was unamerican. "Sure is. It ain't part of this country," was his answer. I even thought of writing about "pickles" and "quandaries", but it required too detailed a knowledge of quantum physics and math just isn't my thing.

I suppose I'll just have to take a page from Seinfeld and write a posting about nothing. Hey! Whadda ya know? I'm done.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Friday, July 15, 2005

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Why I Agree With George Bush on Iraq

As regular readers will attest, I'm not normally in the habit of supporting our good King George. I happen to believe that most of the things he does and stands for are about as abhorrent as they come and in most cases his feeble attempts at self-defense are like him calling the kettle...ah, well...a toaster. But when a man is right, he's right and in at least one instance I'm find myself in the distinctly uncomfortable position of having to support him.

Our man George has spent the better part of his administration either building up to or trying to defend his monumentally stupid decision to invade Iraq. I should say at the start that I believe the invasion itself was unparalleled in the annals of chuckleheaded moves. George the Younger should have listened to George the Elder's advice on invasions (at least as they relate to Iraq). If you recall, George the Elder stopped the run on Baghdad short of forcing the evil Saddamite from power for fear of setting the whole country ablaze in much the way it now burns. But kids are like that, you can never tell them anything. "George, don't touch the stove or you'll burn yourself." "OK Mommy. OOOOOOW! George got burnded!"

Now that Young George has royally burned himself (and us) on the proverbial hot stove, the US finds itself in a bit of a pickle...how do we clean this mess up without making the whole damned thing worse? And believe me, it can get worse, much worse. Think Somalia with oil reserves.

The mistake of the invasion is now long past and like many people who hose something up beyond belief, the Prince of all Putzes is actually advocating the best course of action to take from here. Suck it up, grit our teeth and dispose with this putrid, festering turd we call Iraq. We need to - you have no idea how distasteful this is-, "stay the course".

George is absolutely correct that we can't abandon the place now. Few places on Earth are as screwed up as Iraq and leaving will only make that worse. The place has become a prime terrorist breeding ground and is destined to get even worse without some strong intervention fast. If it dissolves into any more of an unstructured mess the People's Movement in Favor of Hamid of 1313 Infidel Way will be in hand-to-hand combat with The Religious Front for the Liberation of Achmed at 1314 Inifidel Way. The fact that Il Presidente led us into this quagmire doesn't change how screwed up it is now.

It's good to keep in mind that Saddam ruled with an iron fist not only because he was just a happy-go-lucky dictator. He did it because few people have been able to keep the peace in Iraq for the last 4000 years and if there is one thing you can't tolerate in a dictatorship it's having the junior dictators squabbling over the crumbs.

The United States - being the country that upset the apple cart with an ill-advised invasion in the first place - is also the only country with the strength and resources to help right that terrible wrong committed on the innocents in Iraq. My advice to George is to follow Colin Powell's example and say mea culpa about 6000 times, stop pussy-footing around and bring the violence to a halt. And get some help for chrissakes George, even if it means strong-arming the French and everyone else who is taking so much pleasure in your embarrassingly "I told you so but you wouldn't listen" position. It's time to forget how you botched this up and FIX IT!

And a little clue here George...no more gratuitous nonsense and empty rhetoric about bringing freedom to the oppressed masses or extolling the virtues of a government that couldn't agree on anything, including the chairs they should sit in. I think at this point the oppressed masses would prefer a little electricity, peace and quiet and the ability to sit on the front stoop and watch the kids play in a safe street without a suicide bomber ruining the party. You keep telling us what a swell leader you are, so LEAD!

Oh, and folks, forget this "set a timetable" stuff. George is - damn I hate saying this again - right. All that does is let the bad guys know how much longer they have to wait us out. Rather than producing something useful to help soothe American nerves it only compounds the problem. Besides, we all know how George does with schedules. A balanced budget by 2005. Hah! I laugh in your general direction.

So George, I may think you are lower than the gum on the bottom of my shoe, but somehow while thrashing around trying to save yourself you inadvertently stumbled over a good idea. Let's finish the war so we can bring the troops home and let the Iraqis rest in peace. We owe it to them as an apology for voting as big a buttmunch as you into office to begin with.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, July 14, 2005

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Lost and Found

If you've never heard of it, Found Magazine is one of those rare treats. It's both contemplative and artistic without being boring. The basic premise is to collect discarded items from the street. An irate note left on a windshield. A photo torn in half. A grocery list seemingly written by a schizophrenic. The items are sometimes humorous, sometimes anguished and always interesting. In the spirit of Found, here are some of the roadside (or as you'll see, underwater) oddities I've seen or collected over the years.

Running With Scissors
I was once driving to work early in the morning at maybe 5:30 or 6 am, when I decided to stop at a convenient ATM machine for a quick cash infusion to carry me through the day. As I was walking up to the deserted ATM and digging in my wallet for my card, I casually glanced down a few feet away from the machine. There, in plain view on the sidewalk, was the packing from a pair of scissors. Next to it lay the new scissors, still gleaming and looking hardly used. And, the last item - the one I found most disturbing - was an apparently human brunette ponytail about a foot long with the rubber band still holding it intact. Quite nice hair at that.

I looked around the deserted area. Did some ATM-smashing thief rob the bank and then realize he'd been spotted by the security camera, necessitating a quick change in appearance? If so, this must have been a premeditated act, for where does someone buy a pair of scissors at 6 am in a deserted part of town?

Maybe an anguished garage band star finished his last set at the local bar and had become so disillusioned his lack of success that he cut off his hirsute headbanger badge of honor and symbolically threw it away. Can you throw hair? If he was drunk and upset did he cut himself? There was no blood to let me in on the secret.

Or perhaps a young woman working the night shift and having had a particularly bad hair day decided to end it all right there in front of the ATM. Do split ends cause irrational outbursts? Would some Dippity-Do have helped?

We'll never know.

Swimming With Scissors
As I write this I realize I seem to have a trend emerging with this found scissors thing, but here goes.

As a teenager I grew up on a small lake. Most summers I spent a considerable amount of time swimming and snorkeling in the less than pristine waters looking for a lost treasure that alludes me to this day. On one afternoon snorkel I saw something in the muck and grass a few feet below me. I took a deep breath, swam down a few feet and grabbed the treasure. It didn't feel like gold coins, but what the hell, treasure's treasure. When got the thing back to shore I found myself holding a quite serviceable pair of what I would later recognize as "copy editor's scissors".

For those of you who are age-challenged, newspapers used to be written using actual "copy" - or as we ancients called it, paper. Editing wasn't done with a flick to a keyboard and the transmission of thousands of bytes, it was done by cutting paper apart and pasting it back together in a way the editor felt was vastly superior. I can tell you from personal experience that many writers didn't see it quite that way, but that's another story. Because of the size of the paper, the blades were extra-long, at least 8 inches or more. Great for cutting copy, even better for murder. But again, that's another story.

So what happened with this find? A berserk reporter, driven over the edge by his overzealous editor, can't take it anymore and chucks the symbol of his hatred into the pond? As far as I knew the closest newspaper was about 10 miles away. Any why a lake? In my backyard? And how come someone didn't see this crazed denizen of the Fourth Estate tossing sharp implements into the lake? Was this the origination of the phrase, "we report and you decide"?

I'm sure I'll never know and Rupert Murdoch ain't talking. Well, maybe just a whisper.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, July 13, 2005

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More Things I Don't Understand

I think a lot. Some would probably say too much for my own good. But dammit, these things do pop into my head and I carry them around with me like the theme song from Barney until I can get an answer. Come to think of it, I think Girls Just Want to Have Fun is pretty catchy too. So here's what I'm thinking about today...

Why Are Wars Always Fought in Such God-Forsaken Holes?
Why are wars always fought over the most useless pieces of real estate around? I'd always thought that wars happened when one side wanted something the other side had - like Poland - or over some solemn and important religious disagreement - like whether the head cheese wears the right hat. Instead, it seems that wars are a case of the extreme have-nots against the excessive have-nots.

Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan. Let's face it, none of these places is a prime spot for a resort development with spiffy timeshares and cheap hotels for drunken spring breakers. Hell, even Grenada, the one island paradise we chose to invade was a fetid hell-hole of slogan-spouting Marxists whose sole claim to fame before the US invaded was building a crumbling airport runway - although their propaganda did said it the longest crumbling runway in the greater Caribbean sphere of influence. In fact, the place was such a backwater that the US military was forced to use maps from the Grenadian Auto Club to invade the place and call in air strikes with their AT&T telephone cards.

What gives? Can't we start a war in someplace like Paris? Aren't there any bad guys in Kingston or St. Thomas? Of course there are! So here's my plan. Since we are the world's sole remaining superpower - a fact that King George never misses a chance to point out - we pay to bring the bad guys over here so we can fight them from the comfort of our own Barcaloungers. I'm betting they would eventually all get distracted by the fruits of the capitalist system and line up to McDonald's franchises.

Can you think of a better way to beat them?

How Can TV Reality Shows Continue to Top Themselves?
OK. The first Survivor wasn't too bad. I didn't particularly like it, but at least it had some of the interesting elements or a real game. There was greed and avarice and screwing your teammates as much as possible, much like your typical office environment. Then there was The Amazing Race. Why, any mid-level executive in America can tell you how challenging it is to navigate the world's airline system. Overbooking! Bad food! A shortage of pillows! OMIGOD!...WILL...THEY...MAKE...IT?

After that came a few shows that really capitalized on popular American culture. Temptation Island sent "committed couples" to a tropical resort stocked with unlimited alcohol and naked members of the opposite sex. Who could have guessed the contestants would desert their significant others in a nanosecond to be with Juan the pool boy porn star or Lotta Uptop the exotic dancer? In Joe Millionaire, a group of Dallas Cowboy cheerleader wannabes was convinced that the man of their dreams was both a hunk and a millionaire. I was simply SHOCKED when the ladies thought their guy was considerably less handsome when the monetary details were revealed. The Swan went one better by providing complete plastic surgery makeovers to "ugly ducklings" and then ridiculing the results on national TV. I mean actual surgery. Come on people! How can you top that? Is that Must See TV or what?

While those are going to be hard to top, I think I have a few good ideas.

How about Bonnie and Clyde? An attractive couple plan and commit an actual bank robbery on national TV, getting caught in a shootout and dying a grisly death as the bank tellers vote on which one took the most bullets before falling down. Or, how about Baghdad Bullies? The world's sole remaining superpower takes over a small third world country, ruins its economy - as well as their own - and makes the entire place uninhabitable by anyone except for religious loonies or terrorists. At then end of the show, a guy with big ears tries to convince everyone that everything is hunky dory while viewers vote on the effectiveness of his message.

Oh wait. I think someone may have already beat me to the punch on that one.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Sunday, July 10, 2005

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The Night

It's 3 am and I'm unable to sleep. I've just finished reading a book by CBS correspondent Morley Safer. It ends, as many memoirs do, with a bittersweet closing that has captivated me and makes me want to savor the quiet of the night.

I think of all the times I've been in situations like this. Unable to find sleep. Sitting in an empty room bathed in soft light. Early in the morning. Writing away to fill the hours until sunrise. This morning the lights of Northern California are out my window. In other times it could have been the lights of Athens or Paris or Rio. I produced some of my best work in those quiet, empty spaces, but over the years I've given most of it away or lost it through an endless series of moves.

The writing kept me sane then, as it does now, and brought me the things that I most value in life. It was in some of those rooms that I wrote long letters to friends, telling stories and throwing out ideas, not caring whether they would answer, just to have a conversation. In other rooms I composed letters to Marcia, whom I would eventually marry. She claims our courtship via mail swept her off her feet - something that I'm sure that I could have never done in person by going to dinners or movies or by just talking with her. Eloquence doesn't come easy for me. There's no way to edit.

I've always strongly valued my solitude. It has been my closest ally in what has sometimes been a tumultuous life. Though I've spent much of it writing, sometimes I've just taken it raw, as it comes.

On Midway Island, in the middle of the Pacific, I remember a walk along the beach to watch the waves wander in and the nesting Gooney Birds tend their young. On backpacking trips I've marveled at the incredible number of stars there are in the skies away from the city. As a teenager I sometimes spent time fishing in a lake in my backyard, staring for long minutes at a bobber floating on the dark and glassy surface. It didn't matter whether I caught anything, so long as I could savor the time alone.

It's one of those mornings this morning and I think I will savor it too - with a cool drink and a chair on my porch where I can watch the lights of the sleeping and enjoy myself once again.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, July 09, 2005

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Compassionate Liberalism

In light of today's London bombings, we'll practice a little compassionate liberalism today and not bash King George. What with his two-wheeled scrape of death yesterday and the bombings today we're guessing he might be feeling a little fragile. Besides, it's like shooting fish in a barrel and we like a little more sport than that.

Instead, we present a new gallery in our photoblog Visios. There are plenty of pretty pictures of Montreal to soothe everyone's jangled nerves.

But tomorrow, we promise the gloves come back off.

Journey safely all you mass transit users. Our hat's off to you. The rides are traumatic enough without worrying about someone blowing you up.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Thursday, July 07, 2005

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Bike Bites Bush - Ford Redux?

President Bush suffered an embarrassing collision and fell from his beloved mountain bike during a ride on the grounds of the Gleneagles golf resort today. He was in Scotland with other world leaders to attend the G8 Conference. Why he was riding a bike at a golf course instead of antagonizing world leaders was unclear at the time.

This isn't the first two-wheeled mishap for Bush. It continues a proud Bush family tradition of embarrassing pratfalls. Who could forget His Majesty Bush I's projectile vomiting on the Japanese Prime Minister, His Majesty Bush II's deadly encounter with a pretzel or Court Jester Jeb Bush's repeatedly ill-advised interference in the Terri Schiavo case? The President's last bike fall occurred in May when he took a tumble at his Texas Ranch. Bush handlers blamed that fall on the terrain. "It's been raining a lot and the topsoil is loose," Trent Duffy said at the time. "The sun was in his eyes too. You know this president. He likes to go all out. Suffice it to say he wasn't whistling show tunes," Duffy said, though many believe that the simultaneous whistling and peddling were indeed responsible for the accident that left Bush's nose looking strikingly like that of acquitted child molester Michael Jackson.

The incidents remind many inside the Washington Beltway of former President Jerry Ford's seeming inability to chew gum and walk at the same time. Ford tripped, fell, slid and oopsed his way into America's heart with his charming ability to take a fall like a professional stunt man, yet bound back up smiling and waving as if nothing had happened. "The trouble with Jerry Ford is that he used to play football without a helmet," former President Lyndon Johnson once said of the accident-prone Ford. (The same might be said of Johnson's performance in the White House too.) Hell, Chevy Chase made himself a career - and broke his arm - imitating the gravity-challenged President.

The importance of these events is that, if anything, history always repeats itself. In the best cowboy tradition of falling off a horse (something else he's probably done), let's hope that Mr. Bush gets right back up and jumps back in the (bike) saddle. With threats from terrorists, global warming, a damaged economy and other social ills to cope with the American people can ill-afford a leader who might appear out of control or incompetent.

I say, "George, let's roll!" And by the way, put on a helmet before you hurt yourself.

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, July 06, 2005

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When the Laws of Physics Are Suspended

Ahhh, July 4!

The sky's alight with big blossoms of red fire, green showers of tingling sparks and impossibly loud bangs that rattle the windows and make the babies in the crowd cry. We've celebrated the birth of the good ole US of A with fireworks for over two centuries - rockets' red glare and all that - and usually it's a pretty harmless diversion. With the exception of the occasional grass fire, little comes back out of the sky when the Roman candles go up. Besides, dozens of American Legion and VFW Posts raise money by selling fireworks. Some volunteer fire departments do as well - maybe getting a little too excited for some smoke eating action.

But fireworks aren't all that goes up and must come down. The real danger on July 4 these days is that you'll be shot. It seems that in our zest to become the world's melting pot, we've gone a little hog-wild and absorbed some bad habits from other places - like Iraq.

Supreme Dunderhead Saddam Hussein was famous for shooting rifles, pistols, machine guns, and in fact, anything that made a bang into the air. The famous clip of him dressed in his Sunday-go-to-war clothes and porkpie hat shows him smiling and shooting a rifle into the indeterminate distance. By following the trajectory, my guess is that the bullet came to rest in the top Baghdad Bob's skull while he was giving an interview at the Saddam Baby Milk Factory and WMD Emporium.

Saddam...Dude! Don't they teach physics in Iraq? I know you were real caught up in the latest ethnic cleansing and all, but didn't you figure the bullet would have to come down someplace. True, you probably didn't really care, but it could have accidentally killed that little Mini Me that ran around with you in your videos. Or maybe it could have bumped off your mustache waxer? Even you must have some friends.

Now, it seems, we have to live with this problem in the USA. Each holiday, asshats around the country emulate - unfortunately not immolate - the Big Guy and shoot God knows what into the air. And just as surely, each holiday some innocent bystander gets hit by the descending slug or has their windshield shattered or hits the guy controlling the big commercial fireworks display causing it to go out of control killing hundreds of bystanders. Well, maybe not that last one, but you get the point.

So my idea is this. If you get caught shooting indiscriminately into the air, the judge shall sentence you to play Russian Roulette with Mr. Hussein. I think it would teach you both an excellent lesson in physics and cut down on the number of Nimrods who are stupid enough to do this.

Whadda ya think?

(Visit the Redhead Papers for another take on this subject.)

Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Monday, July 04, 2005

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