Saturday, September 23, 2006

We've Already Established Your Occupation, Now We're Just Haggling Over the Price

Court says $32,000 is too much to fondle bosom: HELSINKI (Reuters) - A fee of 25,500 euros ($32,000) is way too much for a woman to charge a man for fondling her bosom, a Finnish district court ruled.

The court jailed a couple in their twenties for more than a year for charging a 74-year-old who suffers from dementia a total of 25,500 euros to enjoy the woman's breasts on 10 occasions.

'Based on general life experience alone, it is indisputably clear that a 25,500 euro charge is disproportionate to the compensation in question,' Judge Hasse Hakki, who heard the case, told Reuters Friday.

But he said the court in Kokkola, about 300 miles north of Helsinki, would not decide 'the proper financial value of the compensation.'

The retiree filed charges against the couple, who were convicted of extortionate overcharging, even though he told the court he paid the price willingly at the time.

Man, those musta been some hooters.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Quote of the Day

"I have monkeys in my pants."

LOS ANGELES (Court TV) - When the rare birds of paradise escaped from his suitcase and flew over the heads of U.S. Customs Agents at Los Angeles International Airport, Robert Cusack decided it was best to confess that, yes, he did have more to declare.

"I have monkeys in my pants," Cusack told the agents.

Cusack, 49, had just gotten off a plane from Thailand and was immediately taken into custody.

Two endangered slow loris pygmy monkeys were rescued from Cusack's underwear.

For attempting to smuggle four birds of paradise, two lorises and 50 rare orchids into the United States on June 13, 2002, Cusack served five and a half months in prison and paid $1,200 in fines.

I'm not sure I even want to know where the orchids were hidden.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Hello, Tech Support? My Talking Points Don't Work Anymore

Latest Newspaper Column:

The other morning, I was drinking my coffee and reading the news. That was when I saw the story.

I stopped, frozen in shock, my cup halfway to my lips. I put down the coffee cup, picked up the phone, and dialed a number I knew by heart.
After one ring, a recorded voice answered.

"Thank you for calling Republican Technical Support. All of our service representatives are either with other customers or testifying before a grand jury. Please stay on the line."

I waited, sipping my coffee and listening to a bright, perky Muzak version of Toby Keith's "The Angry American." After a long wait, another mechanical voice came on.

"If you'd like to complain about liberal media, Press 1. If you'd like to convey a message to the president about how great he is, press 2. For the latest Republican buzzword or talking point, press 3. For all other matters, please press 4. If you're experiencing a hurricane or other natural disaster, please call back later."

I thought a moment, then pressed 4. There was another long wait.

"Republican Technical Support," a man finally said. "What is the nature of your problem?"

"Have you seen them?" I demanded. "Have you seen them?!"

"Seen what, sir?"

"Those news stories! About this report from the Senate Intelligence Committee!"

"Oh. Those news stories. What about them?"

"What do you mean what about them? The Senate Intelligence Committee has said there was never any connection between that al-Qaida guy Zarqawi and Saddam Hussein before the Iraq war! It even says Saddam didn't trust Islamic extremists and wanted them locked up!"

"Is that a problem?"

"Is that a problem? Isn't the fact that Hussein was harboring al-Qaida fugitives and was going to give them WMDs one of the reasons we invaded Iraq? Actually, isn't it one of the few remaining justifications we have left?"

"I don't know, let me check."

The next words were muffled, as if the guy on the other end had his hand over the receiver.

"Hey, Sanjay! What was the reason they invaded Iraq again? No, that was three months ago. Look at the updated manual."

I could hear an even more muffled reply.

"Yup, that's the reason," the cheerful rep said when he came back. "Zarqawi and Saddam, buddies for life."

"But now that's... hey, wait a minute. Who's Sanjay?"

"My supervisor."

"Where are you guys, anyway?"

"Bangalore... uh, I mean, Omaha. Yeah, that's it. Omaha. You know, Iowa."

"Omaha's in Nebraska."

"Yeah. Nebraska. That's what I meant."

"Oh. My. God. The Republicans outsourced their tech support to India?"

"No, no, we're in Nebraska. I swear it. Whoopie tie-yie-yay. Whee doggies."

"You're not... never mind. What am I supposed to do here? I'm new at this Republican business. I've been with the Party only a few months. I need your help. The justifications for the Iraq war are broken. How do I fix them?"

"Hang on, let me look it up."

There was a rustling of papers.

"OK, you could say what the White House press secretary said."

"Which was?"

"This is old news. Move along. Nothing to see here."

"Does that work?"

"I don't see how," he admitted. "Wait, have you tried doing what the vice president did? When he was on 'Meet The Press' after the report came out, he just kept saying there was a relationship between Zarquawi and Saddam. When Tim Russert brought the report up, Cheney just blew it off and said he hadn't read it."

"He hadn't read it? He actually said that?"

"Pretty slick, huh?"

"If slick is the word in your native language for stupid, then yeah."

"Wait, here's another one. Condoleezza Rice, on 'Fox News Sunday.' 'There were ties between Iraq and al-Qaida.' Looks like the official fix for your problem is just to pretend the report never happened."

"You mean I'm supposed to just ignore this report that says that, rather than being a supporter of al-Qaida, Saddam Hussein, and this is a quote: 'was distrustful of al-Qaida and viewed Islamic extremists as a threat to his regime'? You want me to ignore the fact that the report states that Saddam wanted to lock Zarqawi up, not give him a nuclear weapon? You want me to just keep saying the same old things, even though those have been discredited?"

"That's the ticket."

"So the 'fix' you propose is just to totally ignore reality?"

"Actually, the official technical term for that is 'staying the course.'"

I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose. I was beginning to get a headache. "I'm not sure I can do that."

His voice turned suspicious. "Are you sure you're a Republican?"

"I'm trying," I said. "I really am."

"Well, there's the old standby. You can accuse the committee of partisanship and politicizing the war in an election year. Then, maybe throw in some wisecrack about Alec Baldwin or Michael Moore."

"The partisanship thing won't work," I said morosely. "It's a Republican-controlled committee in a Republican-controlled Senate."

"Wait, I thought they fixed that."

"Not yet," I said. "Not yet."