The Column of Lasting Insignificance: July 25, 2009
“The justices of the Supreme Court have become far more than the referees in constitutional disputes than the framers intended. They have gone beyond interpreting the rules — they have come to create them…too often the Supreme Court has seemed to be fighting the progress of history.”
—from Packing the Court: The rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court” by James MacGregor Burns
Torture by Americans is continuing despite any claims or announcements to the contrary. Much of it takes the form of force-feeding (tube forced up the nose, liquid food pumped through it) which is still happening to at least 30 prisoners at Guantanamo despite it being forbidden by the Geneva Convention. “It feels like a nail going into his nostril and like a knife down his throat,” is how one prisoner’s lawyer reported a client’s description to the Atlantic, which also quoted Red Cross adviser Hernán Reyes: “Such actions can be considered a form of torture and under no circumstances should doctors participate in them, on the pretext of saving the hunger striker’s life.” The magazine commented that we had seen too much in the past eight years “to pretend any longer that the United States is incapable of criminal abuse or to trust the ‘experts’ to act secretly in what they believe, sincerely or not, to be in our best interests.”
“Cheney is, in fact, one of the most charming, good-natured, engaging, and even jolly men you’d ever be privileged to meet.”
— Andrew Roberts, sycophantic British author of a recent book about World War II
To the annoyance of local residents, St. Andrews, the Scottish town which calls itself “the home of golf” (despite the fact that Turnberry is older) is about to install its first parking meters on downtown streets, reports Scottish Life. The council claims the new machines are more cost-effective and efficient than the previous system “which involved popping into one of the local shops, having a chat and then purchasing a parking voucher.”
DEFYING ALL PREDICTIONS that the bad would drive out the good, Wikipedia has proved to be a big success: half a million of its 2.9 million entries were added in the past 12 months. It was thought at the beginning that allowing its entries to be tampered with by anybody would be its undoing. “But it turns out that the people who believe in truth and objectivity,” writes David Runciman in the London Review of Books, “are at least as numerous as all the crazies, pranksters, and time-wasters, and they are often considerably more tenacious, ruthless and monomaniacal.” Runciman’s comments are part of his review of The Wikipedia Revolution by Andrew Lih, which was published on both sides of the Atlantic this spring. “Still,” he writes, “it takes a lot of policing,” referring to the volunteers who check out recent changes in search of “endless obscenities and absurdities.” There are now more than 250 versions of Wikipedia in different languages, all of which have at least half a million entries.
David Kupfer: What pushed you into the role of provocateur?
Paul Krassner: I couldn’t help but notice the difference between what I experienced in the streets and the way it was reported in the mainstream media which acted as cheerleaders for the suppression of dissent.
—from an interview in The Sun magazine
HISTORICALLY USED AS a substitute for — and sometimes additive to — coffee, the bitter herb chicory assumes an added importance on St. James Day, July 25. Legendarily on that date, it has the capacity to make its possessor invisible and to unlock boxes and open doors. There is a catch: it has to be harvested at either noon or midnight, cut with golden scissors, and in absolute silence, at the risk of instant death if the silence is broken. Adding authority to the herb’s magical worth is a curious book, Dyett’s Dry Dinner, which in 1599 affirmed that anointing the body with chicory juice would help the wearer “to obtaine the favor of great persons.”
THE WILCOCK WEB: The corrupt presidents of both Afghanistan and Pakistan would have to solve their own problems if we got the hell out. Are we killing (and dying) to stop the Taliban coming over here?…. Clocking in third, ahead of the Labor party, in a recent local election in Cambridgeshire, was the veteran Monster Raving Loony Party, whose proposals include: “All socks should be sold in packs of three against the possibility of losing one ……”The defining pop star of 2009” is how the Observer Magazine describes 23-year-old Lady Gaga aka Stephanie Joanne Angelina Germanotta whose platinum hit Poker Face concerns bisexuality…. The European Union is pressing cell phone makers to establish a standard recharger to eliminate the 30 different models (and dispose of the 50,000 surplus ones still lying around)… What Archaeology magazine defines as the “twitchy energy” and greed of meth freaks, is prompting their compulsive search for American Indian artifacts which they loot and sell on the black market….After a teacher unsuccessfully sued, German schoolchildren were granted the right to rate their teachers at a local website…“English culture is basically homosexual,” claims Germaine Greer, “in the sense that the men only really care about other men”…. White supremacists and neo-Nazis have been joining the U.S. military to learn combat training and weapons skills warns Intelligence Report, published by the Southern Poverty Law Center …. The billionaire owner of a battery factory at Silmar, CA, wants to enlarge his factory so he’s asking the government for stimulus funds ….The 40th anniversary of Woodstock is next month…. In the New Statesman, London’s former mayor Ken (“Red Ken”) Livingstone trashes his rightwing successor Boris Johnson — “(his) administration is backward-looking and committed to small shrunken government” …..Unsurprisingly, the idea of having a centrally located hookah, with tubes accessing it from all over the house, is high on the list of suggestions submitted to Highideas.com. Another suggestion: a fridge with glass doors so you can see what’s inside….”We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” — Thomas Paine (who died 200 years ago last month, aged 72).
Flashback /July 21/06
THE WILCOCK WEB: 24 percent of the bottled water Americans buy is ordinary tap water repackaged by Coke and Pepsi…