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30 October 2006

Another Fine Mess: The testicles have spoken. Now it's up to a judge in Milano.

Dutch cartoonist
Jean Gouders' Berlusconi.

Agence-Vleeptron Presse is pleased to introduce the Vleeptron Mess Index, a rating scale of entertaining political and government phenomena which runs from

0 ............. 10
| ..............|
yawn .......... Thrilling! More! Encore!

This one's a 7.9 . Would have been much higher, but Silvio Berlusconi was defeated for re-election a few months ago. He accused all people who were thinking of voting against him of being testicles, so apparently the majority of Italian voters have proven themselves to be testicles.

So Berlusconi's now just a super-rich Italian Nobody, and UK Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell tossed her husband David Mills out of the house the moment the scandal broke; they're separated. And she was never accused of wrongdoing. (But he's accused of bankrolling their fancy London house on the proceeds of his alleged scheme with Berlusconi.)

When the scandal broke, Tessa Jowell wasn't pressured to leave the Cabinet, but she was temporarily locked out of Cabinet meetings involving classified information. So when the Cabinet was in a closed-door scrum over Tony Blair's partnership in the War in Iraq, the Culture Minister had to sit outside the closed door. For a while, the UK was waging the war without the advice of its Culture Minister.

So it's possible to duck a lot of the damage from a scandal just by doing the most instinctive human thing in the world: Fleeing. The allegations against Berlusconi and Mills haven't changed; if anything, they've firmed to the point of moving to criminal trial. But Berlusconi and Mills are now much farther from the Centres of the Italian and British Cyclones now. Fewer people care about them.

So: If you don't want everyone in two languages to get enormous entertainment about the trouble you're in, Be Nobody. Or Be Less of a Somebody. If your wife still wants to be Somebody --

well i guess if you say so
i'll have to pack my bags and go

hit the road, Jack!
and dontcha come back no more
no more no more no more
hit the road, Jack!
and dontcha come back no more ...

( -- Ray Charles & Betty Carter)


Monday 30 October 2006

Berlusconi and Mills
charged with corruption

by Antonella Ciancio

MILAN (Reuters) -- An Italian judge ordered on Monday that former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi stand trial on corruption charges along with lawyer David Mills.

Milan magistrates had accused Berlusconi of paying Mills, the estranged husband of Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, a $600,000 (315,000 pounds) kickback for not revealing details of Berlusconi's media empire when he testified in two court cases.

Berlusconi's lawyer confirmed that judge Fabio Paparella had ordered both Berlusconi and Mills to stand trial after preliminary hearings that started earlier this year. With the judge's order the two men were officially charged with corruption.

"They have been ordered to stand trial on corruption charges," lawyer Nicolo Ghedini told Reuters.

"The defence can't wait for the start of the debate on March 13 and hopes to have a judge 'super partes' who will exonerate Silvio Berlusconi swiftly," Ghedini said.

Both Berlusconi, who has faced a string of court cases, and Mills have denied the public prosecutor's allegations that Berlusconi paid the British lawyer the kickback in 1997.

The alleged crime carries a possible jail sentence of three to eight years. Italy's statute of limitations -- reduced under Berlusconi's government before the centre right lost elections in April -- means he is unlikely to be prosecuted on this count if the case stretches to 2008.

Mediaset, the publishing and broadcasting empire owned by the former prime minister's family, had no immediate comment. Lawyers for Mills were not immediately available.

Berlusconi and Mills are already standing trial with 12 others in a related case over allegations of fraud at Mediaset.

Prosecutors in that case suspect a U.S. firm sold television and cinema rights to two offshore firms controlled by Berlusconi family holding company Fininvest, which then allegedly sold them on at inflated prices to Mediaset, avoiding Italian taxes.

Berlusconi has faced several legal cases since he entered politics in 1994.

He has been fully acquitted in two, and in the others Italy's statute of limitations has kicked in.

- 30 -

© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

hope it wiggles for you

Maybe you know somebody who has a painting like this on the living room wall -- but does the water flow? Visual art doesn't always have to lack plumbing.

28 October 2006

la Lune

This isn't Méliès' recently discovered hand-tinted print. I hand-tinted it myself.

"le Voyage dans la Lune"
(1902) by the stage magician and movie pioneer Georges Méliès. The film is usually credited as the first science-fiction and fantasy movie. When his movie camera jammed while he was shooting a scene, Méliès discovered how to make his screen characters suddenly vanish, to the astonishment of his audience.

no human being, animal, plant was harmed to bring you this photograph

Click several times
for larger, clearer, better.

A rectangular snapshot, photographed from orbit, of the impact craters and scarps of the Southern Highlands of Mars. You can see anything as big as two car lengths or bigger. The shadows in the craters show where the Sun was on the Martian morning this snapshot was made.

JPL is managed by the California Institute of Technology -- Cal Tech -- in Pasadena, California. The HiRISE orbital camera is operated by the University of Arizona.

Vleeptron is preparing a Guide to the 7 November USA election, and many of the Congressional and Senate races have become nearly as distressing and unpleasant as the War in Iraq.

Fantastic Doug's thank-you note about the ethereal photograph taken from a robot in Martian orbit of Victoria Crater has deepened the contrast between The Best Human Beings Can Be, and The Worst Human Beings Can Be. It is startling that this amazing achievement of the robotic exploration of Space is happening at just the same moment as the vile, wretched, Festival of Political Scoundrels, and the unspeakable, abominable War in Iraq.

It is astonishing that the same nation could be producing these three things at the same time. It is astonishing that the same animal species could be doing these things at the same time.

Click here for the new photos of Mars from orbit.

And here for the new photos of Mars from JPL/NASA's two surface rovers, still driving slowly across the surface of Mars.

Why do they hate us so badly all over the world? Is it because we devote some of the resources of our bounty and genius to photograph the surface of Mars and the rings of Saturn?

Or is it something else we've chosen to do?

I've never met someone from another nation who told me he/she hated America's Moon landing or America's robotic exploration of the Solar System. Everyone -- Confucian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Christian, agnostic, pantheist, atheist, Zoroastrian -- seems to pause to smile at America's achievements in Space.

I am not big on hyperpatriotic pride, loud expressions of it tend to embarrass and distress me, because they're usually loudest and most hyperpatriotic when Americans are frightened and acting very foolishly at the ballot box and in government offices.

But in a very odd sense, we wrote the name of our country on the Moon, and whenever anyone on Earth looks up at the full moon in the night sky, they associate it in the back of their mind with the only Earth nation that ever sent human beings to walk on the Moon. There is no wind, so the footprints of some Americans -- a handful of white Christian men, though now we send blacks, women, Asians, the odd Israeli into orbital space -- will remain clearly impressed in the dust of the Moon for millions of years. They see the Moon, they think of America.

It pleases human beings everywhere on Earth. It pleases me.

No human being, no animal, no plant was killed or injured in photographing Mars from orbit. No widows or grieving parents see these photos and curse America. Nor is this some sort of parochial bourgeoise local perversion. The need to look at and contemplate the Night Sky is universal; only a dolt can fail to be thrilled, from infancy to old age, at the Moon and the Stars.

What are they? Are there creatures there like us? Is there life there? What is it like to stand on these planets and look up into their sky?

Everyone has wanted to know. From ancient Roman times, probably well earlier, dreamers have written of their voyages to the Moon. Cyrano de Bergerac sailed to the Moon on swans. Baron von Munchausen flew to the moon in a hot-air balloon made of silk lingerie. H.G. Wells' adventurers went to the Moon in a sphere made of anti-gravity cavourite. A gigantic cannon propelled Jules Verne's adventurers; in Georges Méliès' silent movie (1902), the giant shell gave a black eye to the Man in the Moon.

America decided -- politically -- to take a whack at being the first Earth nation to bring back a few answers, and souvenirs, and photographs, and even a few weird sound samples now and then.

Historically, it was a Phineas T. Barnum circus stunt to fill the propaganda airwaves with the message: America Put Astronauts on the Moon First!

Politically immature, childish, the comic book space hero ideas of the Cold War, for the playground ambitions of a Cold War superpower.

But it opened a window to the Childlike in us. We could and would satisfy the curiosity and imagination and wonder of the entire human race. If it was a child's game, if it was all about nifty amazing expensive toys -- well, just look at the photos the toys have sent back.

No human being, no animal, no plant was killed or injured in taking this snapshot of the surface of Mars. Now anyone on Earth can see the terrain northeast of Martz Crater as clearly and as easily as you can Google Earth and look down on Yemen or Aden or Newfoundland.

(Our Cold War superpower foe, the Soviet Union, put the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, into orbit and orbited the first human being, Yuri Gagarin. Russia still shoots rockets into space with huge payloads; this week they sent about 2.5 tons of supplies to the International Space Station, and had just a little trouble docking, but they docked.)

We have bodies and spirits. In Iraq, we kill bodies, and our enemies kill the bodies of our neighbors' children.

In Space, we make beautiful music and images for our spirits. We learn new things, previously unimagined things, about the stars and planets. Each voyage to another object in space brings back years of new questions and consumes entire careers of astronomers, physicists, geologists and biologists. Young university women and men dream of a new voyage of exploration, and then, as they near retirement, watch the moment their voyage reaches its destination. Some scream and cheer in the mission control room. Others just stand in a corner and watch the monitors stunned beyond cheers or words at the fantastic fruits of decades of outlandish ambitions.

No human being, no animal, no plant was killed or injured in taking this snapshot of the surface of Mars. No human being was insulted or humiliated, no animal exploited. The photos are pretty easy for any boy or girl or man or woman on Earth to look at.

27 October 2006

Up from fœtid Comment Sewers beneath Ciudad Vleeptron: the culture clash btw Naughty Earth & Nice Earth

A bummed-out week. Stoopid stuph -- a dentist drilling into my teeth, eternal phone calls with incompetent bureaucracies --

And then there has been the Relentless News from Around The World, so unusually ghastly that I couldn't bring myself to Copy & Paste it to Vleeptron. Even the calm, reassuring, sympathetic tones of the BBC and Public Broadcasting can't sweeten this week's news.

Earth (unlike Planet Vleeptron) is running a 9.6 on the Fluggerman Index of Shame, Disgust and Sordid this week.

The Zeta Beam is on the fritz again and I've been sleeping a lot. With the bedclothes pulled over my head and the phone ringer OFF.

A few moments ago, this Comment from Fantastic Doug (he left no link, but I'm not complaining).

The Amazing Mars Images also generated a PizzaQ Challenge, which nobody has yet taken a whack at. It's really an easy challenge, I think. It's the Martian equivalent of: Find the Black Sea, or the Cape of Good Hope, or Kansas City on a map of Earth. 8th Grade Geography.

Someday 8th grade kids will be expected to find 10 or 20 of the Biggest Features on the Moon and Mars, just the way they have to prove to teacher that they can tell the difference between South Dakota and North Dakota, and between the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.

So start now! Be the first kid on your block who can point to Victoria Crater!

Make Vleeptron Proud!

Like Fantastic Doug just made Vleeptron Happy! :-)

~ ~ ~


Fantastic Doug said...


Fri Oct 27, 01:59:25 PM 2006

Bob Merkin said...

YO FANTASTIC DOUG! Now listen very carefully, Doug, and do everything I tell you to do, and we'll have you down off of CAPS LOCK in no time.

Hey, you just made Vleeptron's Day! I just never know what weird krap I post will end up pleasing somebody in Internet Kafe Sofia the way it pleased me. (Where the heck are you, Doug?)

Don't worry about the time lag. These images will NEVER get stale. They have an Amazement Shelf Life as long as human civilization -- and maybe longer, if we send them into Deep Space on one of those Voyager golden CDs.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, in the suburbs of Paris, in Australia, in the Solomon Islands ... human acts, words and images we can only pray will be forgotten as soon as possible. It's amazing these images of Mars were created by members of the same species.

If the Aliens heard only Mozart and Bach and saw only the achievements of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, they'd hop in their saucers and break the speed limit of light to flock to our wonderful, interesting, peaceful Planet Earth for an Alien Picnic.

Imagine -- from low Mars orbit, our perfectly functioning robot looketh down and snaps a photo of another of our perfectly functioning robots as it looketh around and snaps full-color stereo closeups and panoramas.

A thousand years from now, what will humans remember about our era? See images above.

Fri Oct 27, 02:21:10 PM 2006

26 October 2006

experiment in difficult filching: Arabic lesson, vocabulary of anatomy

Highly sylized Arabic letters © copyright 1993 by Mamoun Sakkal.

Hmmm the site/blog salambazar seems to be the artist who created one of the lovely, colorful Eid Mubarak Arabic calligraphy images Vleeptron filched ("Eid Greetings" at the bottom).

Elsewhere on his/her/its/their blog(s) Vleeptron filches this very nice way to start to attempt to learn some Arabic. The Web is rich in Arabic lessons, many of which have clickable letters and words which will pronounce themselves for you.

The equivalent of the Roman alphabet is called the alefba in Arabic and Farsi (Persian). I've found at least one alefba site where you can just look at the big letters and listen to a man's voice pronounce them over and over again until it starts to sink in.

I learned Hebrew/Ivrit, Arabic's near-twin Semitic lingo, when I was a kid. Like, how hard can this be?

Hebrew had died as an everyday spoken language by Jesus' time, so Jesus spoke the Syriac language Aramaic, thought long dead, but which still survives in one little mountain town in Syria. Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" (featured prominently on a very rowdy and disrespectful "South Park" episode) has the distinction of being the only mass-audience big-budget movie ever made entirely in Latin and Aramaic. But with subtitles.

The Arabic alefba descends from the Aramaic alefba.

Oh oh I forgot: You read the Arabic from right to left, like Hebrew.

~ ~ ~

October 04, 2006
Vocabulary Series I: The Human Body

After a long pause, the Arabic Class notes blog is alive again. This time, we're starting with a Vocabulary series to present a few words of Arabic everyday. I will try and give examples of usage as much as possible. If you are intereseted in learning about certain aspects of the language more, please send us an email at webmaster@ (no spaces). Additionally, I'll start posting occasional podcasts (audio) of the Arabic class as time permits.

رَأس Head
يَد Hand
قَدَم Foot

وَجْه Face
جَبِين Forehead
شَعْر Hair
أنْف Nose
أُذُن Ear
سِن Tooth
عَيْن Eye
صَدْر Chest
قَلْب Heart
اصْبَع Finger
لِسَان Tongue
شَفَتَيْن Lips
خَلْف Back
بَطَن Tummy
معدة Stomach

25 October 2006

USA bans import of Vegemite, which all Australians need to stay alive

Vegemite is also banned on Vleeptron. Have you ever tasted this stuff?

The Sunday Mail / The Courier-Mail
Queensland Australia / Murdoch
Sunday 22 October 2006

US bans Vegemite

by Kelvin Healey

THE United States has slapped a ban on Vegemite, outraging Australian expatriates there.

The bizarre crackdown was prompted because Vegemite contains folate, which in the US can be added only to breads and cereals.

Expatriates say that enforcement of the ban has been stepped up recently and is ruining lifelong traditions of having Vegemite on toast for breakfast.

Former Geelong man Daniel Fogarty, who now lives in Calgary, Canada, said he was stunned when searched while crossing the US border recently.

"The border guard asked us if we were carrying any Vegemite," Mr Fogarty said.

"I was flabbergasted." Paul Watkins, who owns a store called About Australia in San Antonio, Texas, said he had been forced to stop importing Vegemite six months ago.

"We have completely stopped bringing it in," he said.

"(US authorities) have made a stance and there is nothing that can be done about it."

- 30 -

Have Your Say
Latest Comments:

This decision is about as intelligent as their Iraq strategy.
Posted by: Greg P. of Brisbane 12:46pm today

Helllo?!?!?!?...........Did someone not tell the US authorities that Vegemite is actually owned by the large American company Kraft......If it is illegal in their country.....then GIVE IT BACK!!!!!!!!
Posted by: Maev of Australia 12:22pm today

....Gee banning vegemite, crap rap slander of Steve Irwin... seems the yanks don't really care for anything Australian much... Glad we're on their side...NOT!!!
Posted by: foz of 11:21am today

This is Purely and simply a political push from a commercial lobby.
Posted by: Ivor Smith of 11:12am today

In reply to the doctor...

That would be a good point if Vegemite wasn't a great source of B group vitamins (including B 12).
Posted by: Anna-Maria of Auckland, NZ 10:58am today

Clearly Bandwagon you do not travel beyond your own country because you would not have made a statement like that if you had. Try being an Aussie going thru your bloody country....
Posted by: Jen M of Canada 10:31am today
Posted by: Greg Wassell of Newcastle 10:23am today

© Queensland Newspapers. All times AEST (GMT + 10).

24 October 2006

the Mother of All Sex Scandals sinks cooperation, Oz leadership in Melanesia

Sheraton Fiji Resort in Nadi, site of the
Pacific Islands Forum
of leaders from
Papua New Guinea, the Solomon
Vanuatu, Fiji and Australia.

The Age (national broadsheet, Australia)
Tuesday 24 October 2006

Papua New Guinea leader
unleashes outburst at Australia

by Brendan Nicholson, Nadi, Fiji

AUSTRALIA'S relations with South Pacific nations have reached a new low after Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare accused the Federal Government of treating neighbouring countries with arrogance and contempt.

Sir Michael's anger boiled over at a regional leaders summit in Fiji, being attended by Prime Minister John Howard, as three other Melanesian nations also joined PNG in lashing out at Australia.

The anger centred on last week's raid on the office of the Solomon Islands Prime Minister by local police and Australian officers, a raid the PNG leader suggested had been ordered by Canberra.

"I think this is typical of an arrogant attitude of your leaders, treating the leaders of the region with contempt," Sir Michael said.

He also expressed dismay at being banned from entering Australia over his country's role in helping fugitive Solomon Islands MP Julian Moti, who is wanted in Australia to face child sex charges.

Mr Howard, speaking after his arrival in Fiji yesterday for the Pacific Islands Forum, said the raid on the office of Solomons PM Manasseh Sogavare was a police operation and any suggestion that Australia was involved was utterly wrong.

He said he was sure the issues could be resolved. "I'm quite sure, as so often is the case with these things, that some gentle discussion in the balmy breezes of the Pacific can do wonders to soothe nerves and reconcile differences."

"We'll have a nice chat and see how it all works out," he said.

Officers serving with the Solomons' Australian-led Participating Police Force took part in the raid, in which a door was forced open and a fax machine seized as part of inquiries into the Julian Moti affair.

Mr Sogavare wants Moti as his attorney-general and has refused to hand over the controversial Australian lawyer to face child sex charges in Australia involving a 13-year-old girl in Vanuatu in 1997.

Mr Sogavare was incensed by the raid on his offices and has threatened to expel the expensive Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) from his country.

Yesterday, Solomon Islands and Australian-led regional assistance police in Honiara announced a joint investigation into the police raid in response to a complaint about it.

In a statement, police said when any official complaint of police conduct is made, it is referred for investigation by professional standards officers.

In Fiji, Sir Michael said the police must have been told to go and get the documents and "that direction must have come from somewhere in Australia."

The raid was also condemned in a joint statement by four member nations of the forum -- PNG, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji.

The statement said the action by Australian members of the international police team was "provocative, uncalled for and unnecessary" and was a serious violation of Solomons integrity.

The fact that Fijian Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, the cool-headed forum host, signed the statement reflects the depth of feeling about the police raid.

Mr Qarase said he was confident the row would be resolved.

Sir Michael also hit out at the decision by Australia to ban him and his ministers from entering Australia until they can properly explain how Moti was flown on a PNG military aircraft to the Solomons while Australia was trying to extradite him.

This was the first time he had been barred from stepping onto Australian soil, Sir Michael said. "I've dealt with them for 40 years, all prime ministers from Liberal and Labor," he said.

"I don't know what the motive was. It's a real insult, an insult to me personally, a person who has known Australian people for all these years.

"It's insulting to a leader like me."

Sir Michael said the working relationship and rapport built up before and since PNG attained independence had been discarded.

He said the police action upset many local nations because they believed it was wrong for the police to kick down the door of the prime minister of another country.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark has been cast in the role of mediator, a term she rejected in favour of "friend of the chair."

She said last night the Solomons mission would not be viable without Australia and she wanted RAMSI's role reaffirmed by the forum.

"Australia has supplied the bulk of the money and the bulk of the personnel," Miss Clark said. "For the mission to be successful it will need Australian input. It's best to look at these issues with both cool and wise heads.

"New Zealand has good relations right around the Pacific and Australia is our closest friend of all so of course we're looking for a way through this."

Mr Howard said he had always had great goodwill towards the people of PNG and the Solomon Islands.

[Note: Poor wording makes it hard to know whom to attribute the final paragraph to, a continuation of PM Howard's words, or some sort of "fact."]

The RAMSI mission had very strong popular support in Australia and was of real long-term benefit to the people of the Solomon Islands.

- 30 -

23 October 2006

2 Indonesian prisoners linked to Bali bombings get early release to reflect Eid

Judaism and Christianity also have theological traditions -- almost entirely forgotten in the United States, which has the world's largest prison population -- which call for forgiveness and emancipation. The Old Testament commands the nation to observe one set of forgivenesses every 7 years, and another -- the Jubilee -- every 50 years. Arguably the Jewish tradition dating to the time of Moses influenced and was incorporated within the Islamic tradition of forgiveness.

Here we have another religious/cultural flashpoint between Christians and Muslims in Oceana. Australians in Indonesia facing the death penalty for drug smuggling is another.

Long before the Bali bombings, Indonesia was accustomed to official government gestures of forgiveness to reflect the major Muslim holidays.

Just before he left office in 2001, President Bill Clinton's final wave of presidential pardons were few in number and pathetic in nature. Christian clergy (and NGO Vleeptron and its predecessor moNGO) had been trying to get his attention to remind him that 2000 indeed qualified as a Jubilee year, and there were thousands of non-violent federal prisoners, many of whose convictions and lengthy sentences were the results of questionable and racism-tinged justice. Clinton failed to embrace Jubilee.

Yet earlier U.S. presidents typically used their powers of pardon and clemency to free and forgive much larger numbers of prisoners every year, doubtless reflecting common understanding of the Christian obligations of forgiveness. Here is the secular, Constitutional rationale of this presidential power, as distinct from any Judaeo-Christian context ...

Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution gives the president "Power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment." A reprieve reduces the severity of a punishment without removing the guilt of the person reprieved. A pardon removes both punishment and guilt.

As judicially interpreted, the president's power to grant reprieves and pardons is absolute. Individual reprieves and pardons cannot be blocked by Congress or the courts. The Framers of the Constitution envisioned the pardon power has having a narrow purpose in times of war and rebellion. The president might offer pardons to rebellious factions as an inducement for a laying down of arms and national reconciliation. Alexander Hamilton argued in the Federalist Papers (No. 74) that "in seasons of insurrection or rebellion, there are often critical moments, when a well-timed offer of pardon to the insurgents or rebels may restore the tranquillity of the common wealth; and which, if suffered to pass unimproved, it may never be possible afterwards to recall."

The pardon power has been used as the Framers foresaw: George Washington pardoned leaders of the Whiskey Rebellion, and Andrew Johnson pardoned Confederate soldiers following the Civil War. In 20th century, Jimmy Carter pardoned those who had evaded service in the Vietnam War.

(From anonymous text prepared by the staff of the Library, Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California at Berkeley.)

Official pardons and forgiveness of double-parkers and jaywalkers and gum-chewers, wealthy tax cheats and the occasional Southern moonshiner are synthetic and artificial reflections of religious requirements. They allow presidents and governors to wrap themselves in the appearance of Jubilee without risking any public controversy or criticism.

Islamic or Judaic or Christian, for Forgiveness to mean anything, the objects of true Forgiveness have to be people we were authentically angry at.

Vleeptron recommends readers find their own links to public and political reaction in Australia; they'll be easy enough to find.

They're not necessarily wrong. But they are depressing, because they push the entire Planet away from the notion of forgiveness and toward the notion of vengeance.

Neither Christian, Muslim nor Jew, Mohandas Karamchand ("Mahatma") Gandhi said:

"An eye for an eye
makes the whole world blind."

~ ~ ~

Monday 23 October 2006

Two Bali bomb convicts
to be freed

DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) -- Two Indonesians convicted over the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people will be freed from jail on Tuesday after having their sentences cut to mark a Muslim holiday, prison officials said.

Similar moves in the past to cut sentences of those convicted over the attacks have been slammed by countries whose nationals in the attack. Most of those killed by the blasts were foreign tourists, including 88 Australians.

"Sirojul Munir who has been detained since January 16 2003 will receive a one month cut to his sentence," Edi, a prison official in Balikpapan in East Kalimantan province where he is being held, said.

Munir, whom media reports said was convicted for harbouring two of the bomb masterminds, was given a five-year sentence which was reduced later on.

A second person convicted over the bombings held in a jail in Bali would also be released after remission, another prison official said.

"Bali bomb convict Mudjarot will be freed tomorrow after receiving a remission of one month and fifteen days," Ilham Djaya, the head of Bali prison said, without elaborating. Details of his conviction were not immediately available.

The remissions are linked to celebrations on Tuesday for Eid al-Fitr to marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Indonesia traditionally has a prisoner remission programme on various days of the year, including independence from Dutch colonial rule on 17 August.

Australia has previously asked Indonesia to review automatic remissions for people convicted of terrorism-related crimes, and Jakarta has said it is reviewing the programme.

Three Islamic militants are on death row for the bombings of two nightclubs in Kuta Beach on 12 October 2002 , which were blamed on the Southeast Asia militant Islamic group, Jemaah Islamiah.

- 30 -

Additional reporting by Telly Nathalia / © Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Eid Mubarak from Vleeptron!

Eid Mubarak in Arabic calligraphy.

The 2001 US postage stamp was designed by the Virginia calligrapher Zakariya, and generated some public complaints -- unusual for government-issued postage stamps, which are usually 100% certified bland and controversy-free. Government stamps typically celebrate Apple Pie, Butterflies and little children holding hands. If this Eid stamp had been issued in an Islamic country, it would have the equivalent controversy of a "Happy Holidays" midwinter stamp in the USA.

Mubarak means "blessed," akin to the Hebrew word "Baruch."

Eid ul-Fitr is the celebration that marks the end of the month of Ramadan. As Vleeptron is the recognized repository of theological ignorance of nearly every faith, we filch the following from Wikipedia -- but they seem to have taken pains to filch this info from Authentic Muslim Sources.

(The English dialect has a heavy aroma of the Asian Subcontinent. The Author is also Long-Winded and redundant and repeats the same things many times, and Agence-Vleeptron Presse would make life a living Hell for him/her if he/she tried to slip this kind of writing past the Beloved Editor.)

I would LOVE to get annoyed Comments about any blunders, errors and mistakes.


Eid ul-Fitr

عيد الفطر

عید فطر

[hmmm that ? is a Persian character that didn't make the trip from its original to Vleeptron. The Arabic had a luckier trip through the Zeta Beam.]

often abbreviated as simply Eid, sometimes spelled Eid al-Fitr, is an Islamic holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting. Fitr means "to break the fast" and therefore symbolizes the breaking of the fasting period.

On the day of the celebration, a typical Muslim family gets up very early and attends special prayers held only for the occasion in mosques, in large open areas, stadiums or arenas. The prayer is generally short, and is followed by a khutba [sermon].

The festivities and merriment start after the prayers with visits to the homes of friends and relatives and thanking Allah for all blessings. Eid is a time to come together as a community and to renew friendship and family ties. This is a time for peace for all Muslims in the world to devote to prayers and mutual well-being.

It is a joyous occasion with important religious significance. Happiness is observed as attaining spiritual uplift after a month of fasting. Muslims dress in holiday attire. After attending the special congregational prayer in the morning, worshippers greet and embrace each other in a spirit of peace, love, and brotherhood. Visiting friends and relatives is common.

For Muslims, Eid ul-Fitr is a joyful celebration of the achievement of enhanced piety. It is a day of forgiveness, moral victory and peace, of congregation, fellowship, brotherhood and unity. Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting, but thanking God for the help and strength that they believe He gave them throughout the previous month to help them practice self-control.


The first Eid was celebrated in 624 CE by the Prophet Muhammad with his companions and relatives over the completion a month of fasting.


The holiday follows the month of Ramadan, falling on the first day of Shawwal (the tenth month in the Islamic calendar). As with all months in the Islamic calendar, it begins with the sighting of the new moon, although some people choose to use scientific calculations instead of a confirmed visual sighting.

Because the day depends on the sighting of the moon, the sighting could only [be] possible just before the sunset. Most check with local mosques or other members of the community to see if the moon has been sighted by authoritative parties. In Malaysia, they are using both sighting of the moon and astronomical calculation to verify the date. But the calculation is only used to verify the sighting of the moon (i.e. the exact time of the visibilty of the moon). For this reason there may be regional differences in the exact date of Eid, with some Muslims fasting for 29 days and some for 30 days.

Eid ul-Fitr commemorates the end of the month of Ramadan. Fasting is forbidden on this day as it marks the end of the month-long fast of Ramadan. A Muslim is encouraged to rise early and partake of a light snack such as dates before then attending morning prayers with family members in the local community mosque.

Traditions and practices

Common greetings during this three-day festival are the Arabic greeting "Eid mubarak" or "Eid saeed" which, loosely translated, mean "Happy Eid!" In addition, many countries have their own greetings based on local language and traditions.

Muslims are encouraged to dress in their best clothes, new if possible, and to attend a special Eid prayer that is performed in congregation at mosques or open areas like fields, squares etc. When Muslims finish their fast at the last day (29th or 30th Ramadan), they congregate to recite Takbir:

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar,
laa ilaha illallah,

Allahu akbar, Allahu akbar
wa li-illahi-alhamd

God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest

There is no deity but [the One] God
God is the Greatest, God is the Greatest
and to God goes all praise

The Takbir is recited after confirmation that the moon of Shawwal is sighted on the eve of the last day of Ramadan. It continues until the start of the Eid prayer. Before the Eid prayer begins, every Muslim (man, women or child) must pay Zakat al Fitr, an alms for the month of Ramadan. This equates to about 2 kg of a basic foodstuff (wheat, barley, dates, raisins, etc.), or its cash equivalent, and is typically collected at the mosque. This is distributed to needy local Muslims prior to the start of the Eid prayer. It can be given anytime during the month of Ramadan and is often given early, so the recipient can utilise it for Eid purchases. This is distinct from Zakat based on their wealth, which must be paid to a worthy charity.

The Eid prayer (salah) is followed by the khutba (sermon) and then a prayer (dua') asking for forgiveness, mercy and help for the plight of Muslims across the world. It is then customary to embrace the persons sitting on either side of you as well as your relatives, friends and acquaintances.

Muslims spend the day thanking the Creator for all their blessings, as well as just having fun and enjoying themselves. Children are normally given gifts or money. Women (particularly relations) are normally given special gifts by their loved ones. Eid is also the time for reconciliations. Feuds or disputes, especially between family members, are often settled on Eid.

Eid ul-Fitr in the USA and Canada

Typically, the end of Ramadan is announced accordingly via e-mail, postings on websites or chain phone calls to all members of a community. Usually working people make arrangements for a lighter work day on the days that may possibly be the Eid day. But many North American Muslims cannot take the whole day off. A typical Muslim family in the USA or Canada will wake up very early in the morning and have a small breakfast.

Next the family will go to the nearest congregational prayer. The prayer may be held at the local mosque, hotel ballroom, arena or stadium. Often these prayers are held in shifts; for example, the first prayer would at 7 am, the second at 9 am, and the third at 11 am, etc.

After prayers, the Muslims disperse. Muslims in the USA and Canada typically celebrate the day in a "varied" way. Some have to go to work, others have the day off and spend the time visiting friends and family. Muslim children who attend public school often take the day off and spend it with members of the family who are able to take the day off.

Because North American Muslims come from all parts of the world, not any one particular food is served on that day. Often a Muslim North American family will visit the homes of friends of many heritages on that day.

Eid ul-Fitr in Indonesia [the world's most populous Islamic nation]

In Indonesia the feast is named Hari Raya Idul Fitri or informally, Lebaran. Hari Raya literally means The Great Day of (Celebration). Sometimes, there are different statements on when the day falls, especially between Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, because people use different techniques to determine it. Almost all of the people follow the government of Indonesia's statement and such differences do not get in the way of people celebrating. This event is recognized as a national holiday and starts a few days before Eid ul-Fitr and lasts some days after it. Schools also have different schedule for the holiday as many Islamic schools usually make it a longer holiday.

Muslims in Indonesia usually ask forgiveness from their relatives and friends after the special prayer. Another interesting Eid ul-Fitr tradition in Indonesia is mudik that usually applies to urbanites who came to Jakarta from the other provinces of Java or other islands in Indonesia. Before Eid ul-Fitr comes, people will go back to their hometowns where their relatives, sometimes including their parents, reside. This event often causes crowding in airports, seaports, and bus stations while some who are travelling by car are trapped in the traffic jam for hours. For little children, asking for money as well as forgiveness from relatives is common to motivate them. Many, especially in the cities, also use the term angpau for the money just like Chinese people do.

It is common to greet people with "Selamat Hari Raya" (Indonesian) or "Salam Aidilfitri" (Malay) which means "Happy Eid". Muslims also greet one another with "Mohon maaf lahir dan batin" which means "I'm sorry physically and spiritually," [because] Eid ul-Fitr is ... also the time for Muslims to clean their sins and strengthen their silaturrahim with relatives and friends.

At the night of the last day of Ramadan, Indonesians usually do 'Takbiran.' Takbiran is a big celebration, people, from little children to old men, recite the takbir with a microphone in a parade. They travel around the town and usually they hit 'bedug,' a large drum, as a background music of the takbir.

Eid ul-Fitr in Pakistan/India

After the Holy month of Ramadan ... Muslims celebrate the sighting of the new moon (start of the new Muslim month) by going to bazaar [and] malls with their families and children for Eid shopping. In Pakistan, the night before Eid is called Chand Raat, or night of the moon. Women, especially young girls, often paint each others' hands with traditional henna and wear colorful bangles.

On the morning of Eid ul-Fitr, every Muslim is required to wear new clothes, if he/she can afford them, otherwise wear washed clothes, have a fresh bath and go to mosque for special Eid prayers, thanking Allah (God) for the health enabling a Muslim to observe fast and enjoy the blessings of Allah Almighty during the holy month of Ramadan. The Muslims are ordained to pay Zakat al-Fitr (special charity money) to the poor and needy before the Eid prayer, so that they can also enjoin other Muslims to celebrate the happiness of Eid.

After the prayers, the congregation is dispersed, the Muslims meet and greet each other, family members, children, elders, friends etc.

Some Muslims specially go to graveyard to pray for the departed and convey their salam (peace). Usually, children visit their parents and other family elders to pay respects and greet.

Special arrangements are made for the family/friends to visit each other to greet on this special occasion. They even exchange gifts, pay charity to needy and enjoy.

One of the special dishes in Pakistan and Fiji is savayya, a dish of fine, toasted vermicelli noodles [3]. Elder family members give eidi (small amount of money or gifts) to children. After meeting friends and relatives, some people go for joyous parties, feasts, special carnivals and parks (with picnics, fireworks, etc.). In Pakistan, many bazaars, malls, and restaurants get crowded with people.

Some people also avail this opportunity to distribute Zakat, the obligatory tax on one's wealth, to the needy.

In this way, the Muslims celebrate their Eid ul-Fitr by thanking Allah Almighty and bringing their family, friends and the poor and needy closer.

Eid ul-Fitr in Iran

In the predominantly Shia culture of Iran, Eid is a highly personal event, and celebrations are often more muted. Called Eideh Fitr by most Iranians, charity is important on that day. Typically, each Muslim family gives food to those in need.

Often meat or ghorbani, which is an expensive food item in Iran, will be given by those in wealthier families to those who have less. Payment of fitra is obligatory for each Muslim.

The tradition in many families holds that for each member of your household on the day of Eid, one person outside of your family needs to be fed. Many Iranian families have chelo kabab, which is skewered meat served with white rice, grilled tomatoes, herbs and yogurt on that day. Thanking God for all blessings is top on the list of activities for the day. The day is a national holiday. So most people spend the day at home or visiting family or going for outings in the areas around the big cities.

Eid ul-Fitr in Turkey

In Turkey, where Eid ul-Fitr is infused with more national traditions and religious celebrations are altogether referred to as Bayram, it is customary for people to greet one another with "Bayraminiz Kutlu Olsun" ("May Your Bayram Be Celebrated", i.e. "Merry Bayram"), "Mutlu Bayramlar" ("Happy Bayram"), or the less-used "Bayraminiz Mübarek Olsun" (May Your Bayram Be Holy", i.e. "Holy Bayram Upon You"). It is a time for people to visit their friends, relatives, neighbors and pay their repects to the deceased with cemetery visits. It is ... especially important to honor the elderly ... by kissing their right hand and placing it on one's forehead while wishing them Bayram greetings. It is also customary for children to go around the neighborhood, door to door, and wish everyone a happy Bayram, for which they are awarded candy or a small amount of money at every door, almost in a Halloween-like fashion.

Eid ul-Fitr in the Gregorian Calendar

While Eid ul-Fitr is always on the same day of the Islamic calendar, the date on the Gregorian calendar varies from year to year, much like Easter, due to differences between the two calendars, since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar and the Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar. Furthermore, the method used to determine when each Islamic month begins varies from country to country.

[These dates] are only estimates:

23 October ... 2006
13 October ... 2007

02 October ... 2008
21 September 2009

10 September 2010

Eid ul-Fitr officially begins the night before each of the above dates, at sunset.

22 October 2006


/me applauds, cheers.

query from some guy in a basement or garage

email rcvd this date:


I am looking for a used x-ray tube or machine as cheaply as possible. I am building a particle accelerator that will put out a good amount but I was wondering about just a dental x-ray.


21 October 2006

whoops, okay, so genetically engineered Rice has come to market, and there's a problem or two ...

Enzyme pathway of the genetic modification of rice to produce Golden Rice, whose endosperm (the edible grain) is rich in beta carotene (a precursor from which the body manufactures vitamin A). Natural rice has beta carotene, but in the skin wrapped around the grain. The skin promotes rot during storage, so it is usually discarded after harvesting.

Associated Press
Sunday 15 October 2006

California Growers Fear
Biotech Rice Threat

by PAUL ELIAS, AP Biotechnology Writer

PRINCETON, California USA -- Fourth-generation farmer Greg Massa was in the middle of the rice harvest and he was dirty, angry and depressed.

The price of the gasoline that powers his water pumps and rice harvester has never been more expensive. A late planting season, hot summer and rising expenses had ensured a less-than-stellar harvest, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecasting a 13 percent drop compared to last year.

So the last thing Massa needed was a biotechnology blunder so disastrous that it prompted the rice industry's biggest export customer -- Japan -- to prohibit some varieties and threaten to ban all U.S. imports. The European Union is making similar threats because genetically engineered rice continues to turn up on grocery shelves in Europe.

"If that happens, the California industry will evaporate," said Massa as he drove the harvester around his farm about 80 miles north of Sacramento.

He has spent the past three years publicly protesting the growth of genetically engineered rice anywhere and in any quantity. Biotech-averse overseas consumers in Japan, Europe and elsewhere simply won't buy it, he says, even if the crops are approved for U.S. consumption.

The U.S. rice harvest is imperiled by the discovery of small amounts of experimental strains of genetically engineered rice in storage facilities holding crops destined for the food supply. Bayer CropScience AG, the German company responsible for the mistake, is still investigating how the experimental rice got into the food supply. Federal officials say the company's signature genetically engineered rice came from storage bins in Arkansas and Missouri, but they don't know where it was grown.

The rice was genetically engineered by Bayer to be resistant to a weed killer and had never been approved for human consumption. Federal officials and company executives say the strain posed no health threat and was similar to biotech rice that had been approved.

Still, Bayer's blunder has been costly.

Rice futures plummeted by $150 million immediately after the contamination announcement and biotech-hating European retailers pulled U.S. rice from their shelves. Growers in Arkansas, California, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas filed lawsuits against Bayer for hurting their sales.

Rice exports are worth $200 million annually to California, which is second only to Arkansas in rice production. Nearly all Japanese imports come from California, which grows mostly short and medium rice grains. Longer-grain rice is grown in the South. In all, the U.S. rice harvest fetches about $1.8 billion annually.

"It has caused problems in the market," said Grant Lundberg, chief executive of Richvale-based Lundberg Family Farms, one of the state's biggest rice growers. "It has given everybody a new perspective on this technology and it's not positive."

A Bayer spokesman declined to comment, other than to say that the company has no plans to commercialize any of its genetically engineered rice because few farmers are interested in growing it.

Rice farmers throughout Northern California are perplexed that companies and scientists are continuing to experiment with a technology so thoroughly rejected by the market.

Japanese and European consumers have a long-standing aversion to biotechnology products, and any changes to their food supply, a fear that harkens back to government mishandling of mad cow disease. Those consumers fear that not enough is known about genetic engineering to guarantee that food is safe.

U.S. trade officials convinced Japan to lift a ban on imported rice in 1995, but the relationship between domestic farmers and their best customer remains precarious.

Last month, Japan announced it would genetically test every rice shipment entering the country and shut down all U.S. imports if it found any more biotechnology crops. None of the genetically engineered rice at issue has been found in California.

Many rice farmers see it as the last step before the country closes its borders to all U.S. rice.

"There are political forces in Japan that would very much like to see California rice no longer shipped there," said John Hasbrook of SunWest Foods Inc., California's largest rice miller. "It's pretty much economic suicide to let genetic engineered rice creep into California and pose a contamination threat."

SunWest has called for legislation banning genetically engineered rice in California.

So-called "golden rice" was one of the first genetically engineered crops developed and it was aimed at alleviating malnutrition because of its ability to produce Vitamin A. Golden rice contains a gene from the daffodil plant and is unrelated to Bayer's rice, which is engineered with bacteria genes.

Two rice strains that were genetically engineered with bacteria genes to resist weed killer were approved for the U.S. market 14 years ago but never sold because consumers around the world rejected the use of biotechnology on such a food staple.

Still, a few companies continue to tinker with rice genes, arguing that biotechnology can be beneficial to farmers, consumers and the environment. Researchers continue to genetically engineer rice that can tolerate drought, floods and disease.

Proponents hope that consumer attitudes will change over the next few years.

In Davis, near Sacramento, Arcadia Biosciences has planted two experimental plots of genetically engineered rice. One variety is genetically engineered with a barley gene designed to help rice better consume nitrogen-laced fertilizer, which would cut down on the amount that ends up in ground water. The other variety makes it easier for rice to grow in salty conditions.

Arcadia received two of the nine USDA permits issued this year to grow small plots of experimental biotechnology rice in California. Bayer received four USDA permits, including an approval on Sept. 7, two weeks after it divulged its mistake. Another company permit is still pending. The USDA doesn't release locations of such test plots and doesn't comment on biotech permits.

"The farmers will make more money and at the same time it's going to help the environment," said Arcadia Chief Executive Eric Rey.

At the Richvale Cafe, unofficial headquarters of the California rice belt and where growers gather daily for lunch, the biotechnology crisis has opened a schism among the usually tight-knit community. Despite the recent setbacks, some see the benefits of biotechnology.

"I am not against research with genetically modified materials," said Frank Rehermann, a farmer and chairman of the California Rice Commission. "There will come a day when people will be less apprehensive. But we do have to grow what the market wants and Japan is really particular about this issue."

- 30 -

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press

20 October 2006

VLEEPTRON TIP du JOUR: Corrupt Iraki diplomat croaks at Sloan-Kettering, his sweetie-pie wants to give YOU U$4,375,000

I'd love this money, but my French really sucks. I'd probably end up beaten to death in an alley behind le Kingdom Magique by big nasty rude French mice and ducks in EuroDisney.

If your francais is sufficiently competent to get through this, and you have the right balance of Greed, Adventure and This Stuff, you know the Vleeptron drill: You buy me a big-ass fancy lobster dinner at a fancy restaurant as my Finder's Fee. Bon Voyage! Bonne Chance!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Je vous avoue que cela me ferait plaisir de lier plus qu'une amitié avec vous et du fond du coeur je souhaiterais sincerement vous rencontrer et vous connaitre davantage. Mais avant, je
tiens a me présenter a vous.

Je me nommes FEDDAG Safia, je suis de nationalité Algérienne et je vis en Irak. je suis dans ce pays depuis plus de 13 ans et j'était au service de monsieur Nizar Hamboum. J'avais pour rôle de veiller sur le bon fonctionnement de la résidence a Moussoul et a m'occuper de tout ce qui est comme factures et charges a régler .

J'étais en quelque sorte le majordome et j'avais connaissance de plusieurs chosesque mon maître faisait et a quoi il était exposé. Monsieur Nizar avait occupé plusieurs postes importants dans le pays et le monde entier. Il fut de 1993 a 1999, ambassadeur des nations unis a New York ;ministre des affaires étrangeres et aussi député dans son pays. Il a été un membre influant dans la médiation des relations entre les Etats Unis et l'Irak dans les années 1980.

Il trouva la mort le vendredi 5juillet 2003 a New York au centre commémoratif de cancer de Sloan-Kettering des suite d'une crise cardiaque. Mon maître m'avait demandé de suivre le dépôt dans une société de surveillance et de conservation de biens privés, d'un colis c'est a dire une mallette qui contenait la somme de 17.500.000 dollars $ (dix sept millions cinq centmilles dollars [a]méricains). Il m'avait demandé d'effectuer ce dépôt a mon nom et lui en faire le rapport car il souhaitait une discrétion et la sécurité pour son bien.

Il m'a demandé de codifié le colis comme étant un bien familial pour les raisons de sécurité de ce fond et pour éviter des problemes avec le gouvernement .Meme la société n'est pas informée du contenu du colis car le colis a été codé comme un bien familial et donc privé. Avant que la guerre n'éclate, mon maître m'a demandé de prendre immédiatement contact avec la société afin de faire sortir le colis du pays car cette somme était destinée pour des investissements a l'étranger. Il souhaitait construire un hôtel en Arabie Saoudite.

C'est apres des renseignements aupres de la société qu'ils m'ont fait savoir qu'ils pouvaient faire mettre le colis dans un autre lieu mais cela se fera en Afrique ou se trouve leur base plus
précisément en Cote d'ivoire. J'ai remercié DIEU car pour moi cela était mieux et ce pays n'est pas tres loin de mon pays l'Algérie et surtout il est en Afrique. Je viens vers vous pour solliciter votre aide afin de m'aider a retirer cette mallette de ce pays et de m'aider a quitter l'Irak pour votre pays.

Je voudrais que vous sachez que ce que je fais n'est connu de personne ni meme de sa famille car longtemps j'ai été a leur service et sous ce regne barbare qu'offre ce pays et je n'ai rien eu comme garantie pour la vie et je suis fatigué de vivre en esclave toute ma vie .Comme DIEU ne dort pas il a permit que ce bien soit en ma possession et que je sois la seul qui soit informer de son existence.

Je voudrais que vous sachiez que l'aide que vous m'apporterez ne sera pas vain car j'ai prévu que pour votre aide vous recevrez 25% de la somme totale 17.500.000 $). Je détiens toutes les informations et les documents de l'existence de ce bien.

Je voudrais que vous me fassiez savoir si vous souhaitez me venir en aide afin que je vous
communiques les informations sur ce bien et la société qui a la garde afin que vous entrez en contact avec eux pour qu'ils vous fassent parvenir le colis. Je voudrais que vous sachiez que c'est une société diplomatique et en leur donnant une adresse sur ils vous livrerons le colis. Sachez que le certificat de dépôt ne porte pas de nom du bénéficiaire et qu'il sera facile pour vous de retirer ce colis car il suffira que vous vous présentez comme le bénéficiaire de ce colis. Je voudrais que tout ce que je vous ai dis restes secret afin degarantir ma sécurité et la sécurité de ce bien.

Je n'ai aucune source de communications que l'ordinateur portable que j'ai dans la chambre donc je m'y contente. Pour plus de sécurité et de discrétion je souhaiterais que vous me comprenez.

Merci de votre comprehension.


19 October 2006

up from the fœtid Comment Sewers flowing beneath Ciudad Vleeptron: Guy says he know what The Stuff is

Hmmm ... maybe you shouldn't Click.
It'll just get confusing.

Once I was the King of Spain
Now the Leafs call me up to drive the Zamboni

Once I was the King of Spain
Now I work at the Pizza Pizza

-- Moxy Fruvous


/me raises his hand. i know! i know!

Posted by Abbas Halai to Vleeptron_Z at 10/18/2006 10:19:37 PM


Wow -- this was a close one. I was whizzing past Toronto and the Tim Horton's near Anxiety Airport couple of weeks ago. I might have had to pony up some Pizza Pizza.

(Still no envelope from 407ETR. They were bluffing! Robots can bluff and try to intimidate you! Awesome!)

Meanwhile, a visual clue. Any translations or local insights greatly appreciated; I declare you Agence-Vleeptron Presse's Man-On-The-Ground, or Agronomist, or whatever.

This image dates from around 1850-1860. I'll post the text under the image, but take a whack at what the image says about itself.

I thought you said you were a City Guy. Hmmmm okay I was a City Boy but moved here near cows and bears and I like to learn stuff about where my Food comes from.

The first guess from patruralch, the German Translator Bot called it Clap Poppy or Poppy. Definitely The Wrong Stuff.

So spill it here loud and clear, nail your Pizza Pizza, what's the Stuff? Is The Right Stuff easy to buy in Toronto?


Pablo Picasso: Le Reve / The Dream (1932)
Oil on canvas
51.25 x 38.125 inches
130.2 x 96.8 centimeters

Vleeptron displays it here without the big rip in Marie-Therese Walter's forearm made by the owner's clumsy elbow. If you want to see the actual painting, it's in Las Vegas and has a big rip in it.

See Also: *

The Scotsman (Scotland)
Thursday 19 October 2006

Tycoon art-broken
after ripping Picasso

by Craig Howie and Aura Sabadus

"Oh shit, look what I've done." -- Steve Wynn

IT WAS a moment in which tragedy and comedy came together
to create one of the fine art world's worst disasters.

Billionaire Steve Wynn had just agreed to sell a Picasso masterpiece for £74,000,000 -- a record price -- when, as he gesticulated to friends, he put his elbow right through it.

"Oh shit, look what I've done," he said, with considerable understatement. "Thank God it was me."

Author Nora Ephron, who was among the witnesses and who described the incident in an internet blog, had been taking a private tour of the Las Vegas casino magnate's art collection, which includes leading works by Picasso, Matisse and other great names. The When Harry Met Sally writer was marvelling at the abstract work called The Dream, Picasso's 1932 portrait of his mistress Marie-Therese Walter. As Mr Wynn stood, effusively detailing its history to the group and the price he had agreed with a fellow collector, he told them: "This is the most money ever paid for a painting," according to Ms Ephron.

Then followed a moment of horror and suspense common to the twisting plots of her stories, "there was a terrible noise", she reported. Mr Wynn, in his enthusiasm, had put his right elbow through the world's most expensive painting. "There, smack in the middle of Marie-Therese Walter's plump and allegedly erotic forearm, was a black hole the size of a silver dollar -- or, to be more exact, the size of the tip of Steve Wynn's elbow -- with two three-inch long rips coming off it in either direction," Ms Ephron wrote.

She was as stunned and speechless as the casino owner, who is known for gesticulating with his hands while speaking, and has retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that restricts his peripheral vision. Ms Ephron described the scene as Mr Wynn tried to absorb what he had just done.

"The word 'money' was mentioned by someone, or perhaps it was the word 'deal'. "Wynn said, 'This has nothing to do with money. The money means nothing to me. It's that I had this painting in my care and I've damaged it'."

Ms Ephron described how she believed something "very private" had happened and felt "absolutely terrible" for Mr Wynn.

The casino magnate has now decided not to sell the painting, which he bought for £25,800,000 in 1997, but to keep it and repair it, his spokeswoman, Denise Randazzo, confirmed. The £74,000,000 price tag would have been £2,100,000 higher than the previous private-sale record, paid for Gustav Klimt's Adele Bloch-Bauer I, in July this year.

Sir Timothy Clifford, former director of the National Galleries of Scotland, said all was not lost and the value of the painting would not change "dramatically".

"I suspect that the Picasso will be restorable, but it's very, very tragic," he said.

"As long as it can be carefully and well restored, I suspect that it can be all right."

Comments Add your comment

1. Scott / 2:03am 19 Oct 2006

It could only have improved it

2. Dave, Edinburgh / 3:16am 19 Oct 2006

I find it extremely disturbing that this order of value is attributed to a painting, and more disturbing still that anyone should actually pay this much one. So, full marks to Mr Wynn for his reaction to his own clumsiness, but take them all back again for having bought the hideous thing in the first place.
Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder, so put this 'masterpiece' on the wall alongside the unmade beds, and piles of tyres and let those with disturbed minds gaze in wonder.

3. Callum / 4:20am 19 Oct 2006

I have to say I only see the laughable in this.
Does that make me a philistine?

© 2006

18 October 2006

migrating birds imaged on radar

I hope this wiggles for you. Otherwise click here.
Clicking 2x is strongly recommended.

Migrating birds "hug" land masses, and radar can capture spectacular massings of birds in season. A very famous migration chokepoint which also produces spectacular radar images is across the Straits of Gibraltar, as birds fly back and forth in season between Europe and Africa.

A radar transceiver of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is located in Key West, Florida, in the path of a migratory bird flyway.

The spring migration of land birds and shorebirds across the Gulf of Mexico begins in the first and second week of March, reaches a peak in late April/early May, and is essentially over by the third week in May.

The doppler radar image loop shows a late night/early morning bird migration episode on 28 April 2002. Ornithologists estimate that nearly 10,000 birds per mile are flying through the dark green radar reflectivity areas (25-30 DBZ).

Okay, the scale at left is echo intensity (reflectivity), measured in dBZ (decibels of Z, where Z represents the energy reflected back to the radar).

Recently, Bob has been migrating back and forth across a national border. Borders are of huge concern to human beings.

Notice that Havana and Cuba are at screen bottom; the distance from Key West to Havana is 106 miles / 170 km. Notice that the birds don't give a flying fuck about the borders or sovereignties of the two hostile nations; they go where they like when they like.

The activities -- economic, military -- of nations can imperil animal populations. Whooping cranes (naturally) winter along the Gulf of Mexico in Texas and summer in the northern Prairie Provinces of Canada; the long-lasting, nearly permanent political friendship between the two nations has been a big factor in human-assisted efforts to pull the species back from extinction.

But birds which divide their time between the USA and Cuba are likely to suffer from the near absence of scientific cooperation between the hostile nations. Political tensions are also increasing between the USA and Venezuela.

Many land animals along the USA-Mexico border have suffered badly as the USA has militarized its side in response to narcotics smuggling and illegal immigration. Large zones are now in constant bright illumination all night, a vast disruption of the animals' nocturnal activities. Likewise the increasing political pressure to erect physical barriers across long stretches of the border will negatively effect animals, by isolating breeding populations and thus lessening genetic diversity, which predictably expresses itself in less resistance to new parasites and diseases.

PIZZAQ: What is it?

What is it?

Honor System, no Googling or asking anybody else for help.

3 slices with unecessarily fancy Euro extra cheese.

17 October 2006

sucky poem about great PIRATE!!!!

Click, maybe it will make more sense.
Filched from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Vleeptron apologizes for the scarcity of PIRATE!!! news, which we've always promised to provide. It's Not Our Fault that there isn't very much Pirate News these days.

It's a Global Warming thing (see graph above).

We also apologize for missing International Talk Like A Pirate Day, which was, and will again be every year, 19 September. Won't happen again.

To atone, here is the worst poet in the history of the English language's paean to the Greatest PIRATE!!! of them all. Aargh!

Captain Teach
alias "Black Beard"

by William Topaz McGonagall

Edward Teach was a native of Bristol,
and sailed from that port

On board a privateer, in search of sport,
As one of the crew, during the French War in that station,
And for personal courage he soon gained his Captain's approbation.

'Twas in the spring of 1717, Captain Harnigold and Teach sailed from Providence
For the continent of America, and no further hence;
And in their way captured a vessel laden with flour,
Which they put on board their own vessels in the space of an hour.

They also seized two other vessels and took some gallons of wine,
Besides plunder to a considerable value, and most of it most costly design;
And after that they made a prize of a large French Guinea-man,
Then to act an independent part Teach now began.

But the news spread throughout America, far and near,
And filled many of the inhabitants' hearts with fear;
But Lieutenant Maynard with his sloops of war directly steered,
And left James River on the 17th November in quest of Black Beard,
And on the evening of the 21st came in sight of the pirate;
And when Black Beard spied his sloops he felt elate.

When he saw the sloops sent to apprehend him,
He didn't lose his courage, but fiendishly did grin;
And told his men to cease from drinking and their tittle-tattle,
Although he had only twenty men on board, and prepare for battle.

In case anything should happen to him during the engagement,
One of his men asked him, who felt rather discontent,
Whether his wife knew where he had buried his pelf,
When he impiously replied that nobody knew but the devil and himself.

In the Morning Maynard weighed and sent his boat to sound,
Which, coming near the pirate, unfortunately ran aground;
But Maynard lightened his vessel of the ballast and water,
Whilst from the pirates' ship small shot loudly did clatter.

But the pirates' small shot or slugs didn't Maynard appal,
He told his men to take their cutlasses and be ready upon his call;
And to conceal themselves every man below,
While he would remain at the helm and face the foe.

Then Black Beard cried, "They're all knocked on the head,"
When he saw no hand upon deck he thought they were dead;
Then Black Beard boarded Maynard'a sloop without dismay,
But Maynard's men rushed upon deck, then began the deadly fray.

Then Black Beard and Maynard engaged sword in hand,
And the pirate fought manfully and made a bold stand;
And Maynard with twelve men, and Black Beard with fourteen,
Made the most desperate and bloody conflict that ever was seen.

At last with shots and wounds the pirate fell down dead,
Then from his body Maynard severed the pirate's head,
And suspended it upon his bowsprit-end,
And thanked God who so mercifully did him defend.

Black Beard derived his name from his long black beard,
Which terrified America more than any comet that had ever appeared;
But, thanks be to God, in this age we need not be afeared,
Of any such pirates as the inhuman Black Beard.