May 29, 2002

Pundit Ex Machina is on schoolwork-related hiatus. It will return in one weeks time.

May 23, 2002

From DailyPundit: Pro-Life T-Shirts Banned on Golden Gate Bridge

From what I understand - the shirts simply read "pro-life", and have an American flag on the back. Now - although we commonly associate the phrase "pro-life" with the political controversy of the abortion debate, I hardly see how the word itself can be something to which we take offence. I mean, is there a powerful "pro-death" lobby in America that is trying to ban all forms of life, or support thereof?

If they shirt said "outlaw abortion now!" or something to that effect, then I think it would be clearly a form of political protest (but should be protected anyway) but I think life is just great. I strongly support life, and so, I think, do most Americans. If I were to wear a "pro-fun" t-shirt, would that be political protest too? There maybe be some anti-fun factions out there who would take offence. More importantly, why are we banning political t-shirts in the first place?

What, exactly, the fuck is going on here?

May 22, 2002

Hey, remember that women? Neither do I.

So law enforcement has finally found the body of Chandra Levy, and the nation can collectively breathe a sigh of “…oh ya.”

I was thinking that the fact that she was found in a park seems to counter the “massive old-white-man conspiracy” theory, in that bad guys in black suits probably don’t disappear people only to sloppily dump their corpses in public parks. That’s strictly amateur stuff.

Then someone reminded me “what better place?” and I was suddenly struck by the sheer brilliance of such a plan: if a high level government type were to eliminate someone, wouldn’t it be perfect to have the execution meticulously carried out, only to have the bodies disposal apparently done so crudely? It would certainly suggest a low level mugger or rapist rather then professional assassins, which is exactly the point. If Gary Condit did have her killed, then dumping her body in a park was either an incredibly foolish, or uncharacteristically brilliant maneuver.
It has come to my attention that my site's slogan; “Thinking inside the Box”, is already in use by the off-Broadway act The Vagina Monologues. I considered changing the slogan to something else, but then I realized that a) I’m not going to think of anything better, and b) This gives me the chance to use the word “vagina” in a post, which needless to say, can only improve my Google statues.

May 19, 2002

From Drudge: Bush Pet nickname for Vladimir Putin is “Pootie-Poot”

GWB: "Hey there pootie-poot, what's say you and I go knock back a few cold ones, see if we can't sort out this whole nuk-lear fiasco?"

VP: "Use that childish name again, and I will crush you."

GWB: "hey, come on there pootie, old buddy old pal.. is that any way to be?"

*Putin makes "force-choke" hand gesture - stares coldly at Bush*

GWB: *cough* Hey pootie - I think I'm having another one of those pretzel attacks *cough* …. suppose you got a *cough* glass of water?

VP: You have crossed me for the last time…

*George slumps over, clutching throat.*

May 18, 2002

I will build a grand army of the Republic….

So, Star Wars: Episode II, is so far superior to its predecessor that I think LucasArts must have located a secret “good/bad” switch that was set in the wrong position. That’s the only explanation I can find for this discrepancy, but needless to say, you must see this film.

I can honestly say that while A New Hope, and The Empire Strikes Back were better, Attack of the Clones certainly beats Return of the Jedi as Star Wars movies go.

And Yoda…. there are not words, they’re just are not words. Yoda made the best 5 minutes of screen time ever. He restored my faith in humanity. I suffered some sort of seizure of pure joy when he did his thing. It’s indescribable.

Not only that, but the movie is a hilarious political satire, it deals with such issues as term limits, campaign finance reform, federalism, the military industrial complex, and congressional corruption in a brilliant way, especially for a Sci-Fi space opera.

That is all.

May 16, 2002

The Guardian has compared Noam Chomsky to Alexander Solzhenitsyn in terms of their treatment by the media and their dissenting views. You know that place The Guardian occupied – the one way, way beneath contempt? Well they would need to take three trains and an elevator just to get there now.

When Noam Chomsky has to write his next book on toilet paper - in a prison cell, in between beatings and torture, for ten year, because his views on terrorism, then come talk to me. Until then, I truly hope that you get hit by something big and fast.
Without paying for a blogger pro account, I can't fit the necessary code for my blogroll into the sidebar of my blog. (the whole thing must be under 500 characters.)

This vexes me, because if forces me to use a crude link to an actual posting to serve as my roll. It's inefficient and ugly. If anyone knows a way around this, your help would be appreciated, but somehow I know the answer is for me to stop being such a cheap bastard.

UPDATE: Running my blogroll as it's own document on another server. Very ad heavy though> I'll try to locate a more attractive place to serve the roll from.

May 15, 2002

In bright of day, or dark of night, no evil shall escape my sight….

The FBI wants to create a new, centralized “super squad” to deal specifically with terrorism, rather then relying on the Manhattan field office. I know what you’re all thinking, and I’m thinking it myself:

Can we please, please please call it the “Justice League of America”?

May 14, 2002

He brings new meaning to “bleeding heart” liberalism

Robert Fisk.

There, now that I’ve got your attention, it’s time to make fun of Robert Fisk. (We’re big on truth in advertising around here.) Robbie is pissed, not only because John Malkovich said he wanted to shoot hit, but also because of the loads of hate mail he receives. For my money, this is the first article I have ever seen by a high profile political columnist devoted entirely to complaining about his hate mail. It stands to reason that any editorialist is going to receive hate mail from lunatics, so why is Fisk harping on about it? The reason is simple: it gives he an excuse to blur the line between his critics and total nutjobs by lumping them together. “If crazy people don’t like me, that all people who don’t like me must be crazy right?”

To begin with, let’s get a few facts straight: John Malkovich did not threaten to kill him - he expressed a desire to shoot him. This may not be a very nice thing to say, but who among us can plead innocent to such thoughts? I didn’t think so. Now I’m not going to defend Malkovich much longer – I never agree with statements like this, which just reduce debate into mindless insults, but there is a difference between threatening to kill someone, and wanting to shoot them.

Now, on to Fisk himself:

”I ask myself, did it come to this? Slowly but surely, the hate has turned to incitement, the incitement into death threats, the walls of propriety and legality gradually pulled down so that a reporter can be abused, his family defamed, his beating at the hands of an angry crowd greeted with laughter and insults in the pages of an American newspaper…”

How did it come to this? I’ll tell you. When you make pathetic, “they know not what they do” excuses for the hateful crowd that beats you, you invite others to do the same. Fisk is trying to be magnanimous about his attack so as to gain some kind of moral superiority in his cause, while at the same time use it to gain journalistic martyrdom from the American press. You don’t deserve to be insulted because you were beaten, you deserve to be insulted because you’re a hypocritical tool who, while you did not bring the beating on yourself (as you might suggest), certainly brought the insults upon yourself. Grow up.

”Much of this disgusting nonsense comes from men and women who say they are defending Israel, although I have to say that I have never in my life received a rude or insulting letter from Israel itself.”

Now we get to the good part: where defense of Israel and criticism of Fisk becomes synonymous with hate and death threats. (And as a side note; I’m willing to bet you never will receive an angry letter, or any letter for that matter, from Israel itself. Confusing pronouns isn’t your worst crime, but it’s up there.)

He then goes on to whine over all the names he’s been called - presenting the indictments in such tiny quotations as to strip them of any context, leaving us to trust that the letters really were hate mail, not just strongly worded criticism as they appeared to be. If being called a “liar”, “anti-American”, “hate peddler” and “total nutcase” constitute “disgusting nonsense”, then I don’t think any political writer has ever received what would Fisk would consider fair, or honest criticism. Hell, I’ve been called all those things before lunch sometimes. Robert: you say hateful and stupid things, expect people to say so.

May 13, 2002

We appear to be experinceing some simulblogging here

His post follows mine by a whopping 27 minutes, what's that they say about great minds?

May 12, 2002

It's time to coin a new (to my knowledges) phrase, one which will be funny to only the most hardcore of Simpson's fans: "Yasser bashing"

I kill myself.
Some of my best friends are Jews!

In a CNN interview that supposedly has “wide ranging” implications, Yasser Arafat has accepted the existence of a State called Israel. [In another move with broad implications - this writer wishes to state publicly that I recognize a celestial body called the sun, and I am reasonably sure it will rise tomorrow.]

Does the fact that this murdering whacko has stated publicly what is already an undeniable fact change anything, other then a decimal point in the number marking the distance from which he is separated from reality? The state of Israel is not in question, and the possibility of a state of Palestine is just barely a question for that matter. For him to sit in front of a camera now and cede the point that Israel exists only shows how incapable of leadership this man really is. How can someone who is in a permanent state of ideological hallucination be the person trusted to lead a people into the creation of a new nation? I mean, I know it’s a foregone conclusion that he cannot - but the extent to which he incapable of any actual politicking is made so staggering by his reluctant admission of Israel’s existence that I find it hard to comprehend his support as leader by any Palestinian person possessing even the slightest sense of pragmatism in regards to an ultimate goal of statehood.

It seems utterly clear that if any Palestinian person continues to support this man as their leader, then they truly must not desire statehood for themselves or anyone else, but rather a continued excuse to wage war. In the communist regimes of the past, it was the inability to end the revolution and begin building that ultimately doomed them to failure. In Palestine’s case, they can’t even get their shit together long enough to start the revolution, but would rather maintain Arafat as their leader, and therefore guarantee their political failure for now and forever.
…Most Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

Steve is happy, fun, and brilliant all at once:

“the Rebel Alliance has destroyed the Empire's Death Star, claiming that the latter was an instrument of oppression and violence.
….A spokesman for Jabba the Hutt also issued a statement, proclaiming that such actions by the Rebel Alliance are "unhelpful to the peace process."

May 11, 2002

Ok, so sometimes, the broken system does manage to work, sort of.

[Credit:Tony Bock/Toronto Star]

The courts have ruled, and despite the bitter objection of the Catholic School Board, Ontario’s Marc Hall has been allowed to take his boyfriend to the school prom. If you live in Ontario, or simply read the Star, the Globe, The Post, or just about any other paper, then the chances are you’ve been following this soap-opera of a human rights case pretty closely. I’ve personally watched this story grow slowly from the “in local news…” section of the Toronto Star to Front Page (big color photo included) of the Globe and Mail.

Now, to be sure, this is a colossal amount of overhead and attention to be paid by the major papers to such an issue (isn’t there some kind of war on?), but at the same time, it’s a rare pleasure to see the legal system act in the way it’s supposed to, without bitter and prolonged legal battles (which may be still to come we'll see.)

Ontario’s – and Canada’s for that matter – law regarding rights and freedoms is an exercise in trying to have it both ways. We explicitly protect free speech, freedom of belief, religious freedom, freedom from discrimination, freedom from getting a wedgie at school and freedom from just about anything else you could possibly find the least bit personally objectionable, and we do it all in a big document called the (queue fanfare) Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The most striking feature of the Charter is its ability to be so blatantly self-contradictory as to make no sense at all. How can we simultaneously guarantee people the right to express their beliefs, and the right not to be offended by what others have to say – all in the same document? The short answer is that we cannot. And it is because of this contradictory nature that the Courts of Canada find themselves in a constant battle to measure the value of one right visa-vi another. Case in point: Marc Hall’s right to be free of discrimination based on Sexual Orientation versus the Catholic School Boards right to, well… discriminate.

You see, to make the mishmash of wishful thinking that is the Canadian Bill of Rights even more complicated, the Province of Ontario has a historic, and wonderfully incestuous relationship with the Catholic Church that is undeniable unjust. We federally fund a separate, Catholic School Board with tax money (they claim – only catholic tax money, but push one thing one way, and another moves in the opposite, you get what I mean.) And moreover, we protect its right to administer its school in a fashion reflecting Catholic values and dogma.

All you other American style libertarians (I know your there, don’t deny it) are right now shouting “separation of church and state!”, and I whole heartedly agree. It’s a shame that we don’t have such a rule as an essential part of our legal framework in this Province, but instead choose to foster so called “religious freedom” by supporting the biggest church, instead of just leaving all religious institutions alone. The province of Ontario has been both protecting, and funding the right of one religion to discriminate, to the exclusion of all others. It’s a wonder that such a powder-keg of human rights law has gone relatively unscathed until now, yet at the same time, there is something very appropriate about this issue coming to bare over such a relatively mundane issue- a high school prom.

When the injunction came through yesterday afternoon, it was praised as a victory for human rights by Hall’s Lawyer, and criticized as “bad law” by the school board. The fact is, however, that it was both. While it was undeniable the correct decision to protect Marc Hall’s right to take his boyfriend to his prom, it does not change the hopelessly flawed legal structure it was based on. The ruling essentially said that Hall’s human rights trumped the Catholic School Boards religious freedom – a conflict that should never have existed in the first place. Had Ontario not insisted on funding a Catholic School Board, and protecting its right to administer in accordance with Catholic rules, the this case of who’s more entitled to their rights then who would never have come to pass. But in true Canadian fashion, our Bill of Rights wants it both ways - freedom from discrimination for individuals and religious freedom for institutions. It is this contradiction that, while occasionally protecting our rights, will always create bad law.

May 09, 2002

Terror suspects can come here: PM (National Post)

Our fearless leader is at it again, Prime Minister Chrétien has offered “sanctuary” to 13 suspected terrorists, currently holed up in the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but can anyone conceive of anything less productive to the war on terrorism then to let 13 suspected terrorists into Canada, so as to “end the standoff”? I thought we were in Afghanistan, fighting and dying, to keep these bastards out of our country, not aiding their escape.

These men are wanted for acts of terrorism. The barricaded themselves inside a church (some might say the church) and took hostage priests and nuns, and have somehow persuaded the media they are “under siege”. If Israel were attempting to storm the walls of the church, kill all those inside, and burn it down – then they would be under siege. As it stands, they are simply resisting capture by taking civilian hostages - something which I believe is considered a war crime. I don’t want them here, and I don’t want then getting into the United States through here.

May 06, 2002

---This diatribe spurred by Happy-Fun Pundit---

Being half-American in Canada is a little weird at the best of times, but every so often, little things pop up that set my nature at war with itself. Case in point: Canadian Snipers.

Two snipers participated in several extremely dangerous operations, drew fire to themselves, obtained the longest confirmed kill in history, and several other superhuman sniperly feats. They are both heroes, and uber-badass soldiers. To reward their skill and courage, (they also saved the lives of several American soldiers) the United States military wants to give them a bronze star. No shit, they deserve it right?

Well not so fast there, it turns out, at some point, one of these snipers may have made a mean statement in the general direction of a Chaplain. That’s right, the dreaded F word. such crass, boorish language certainly has no place among Canadian soldiers right? What would it saw about our country when our finest trained killers, while at war, use dirty language? It would be so… un-Canadian. So instead of rewarding our heroic soldier, the Canadian government wants him (wait for it…) court marshaled.

I’ll pause here to allow for a collective “You gotta be fuckin’ kidding me.”

Yes, gotta indeed.

This is, perhaps, the best parable of Canadian vs. American culture ever to grace the newspapers. If it didn’t actually happen, somebody would have invented it. Observe:

America: Sniper’s saved our guys – they killed people from record distances, they drew fire to themselves, they caused havoc among the enemy, cool. Let’s give them medals, make a big showy celebration of their valor and skill. They deserve it, and people love this kind of thing.

Canada: Our snipers hurt people – bad people, people they were supposed to hurt - but still people. We can’t reward, celebrate even, this sort of behavior can we? It would be so violent, so self-congratulatory, so American. Not only that, but they used dirty language – they said mean things towards a Chaplain, a Chaplain. Well that settles it – throw the book at him. We won’t have any mean, dirty talking killers in our army, no sir.

Sometimes, I truly loath this country.

May 04, 2002

Action is his reward...

Spider-man is pure comic movie goodness. It's challenging Batman's previously unquestioned supremacy in my mind as best-comic-movie ever, but not quite.
If you haven't seen it, you better be dead or in jail.

And if you’re in jail - break out.
What’s next? Airport Screeners foil terrorism?

In a coincidence of quantum-physical proportions, has published a cartoon that actually reflects the truth!

The really interesting part about this is that Arafat’s two-faced lying has reached the point where the Arab states no longer bother to deny it (and these guys can deny just about anything), so instead they turn to making light of it in their usually horrific-beyond-belief “political” cartoons.

If even the grotesque, hate-monger cartoonist at acknowledges the state of Arafat’s hypocrisy, how can any rational person believe that he can be dealt with as a “peace broker”? I know - it’s too bad we don’t have any rational people in charge. Isn’t there a blogger out there who could run for some form of office? Your country needs you. [Note: this post has been sterilized of all links to the offending news outlet, for your protection –Ed.]

UPDATE: It occurs to me that this cartoon appeared in a paper billed as "Saudi Arabia's First English Language Daily". Can the cartoon then be construed as an admission of false reporting on the part of the paper itself?

May 03, 2002

Fukuyama-Your Mama

With the Input of Dan at Happy-Fun Pundit, Fukuyama-rama has now gone nuclear.
As Requested, the eminent William Quick has obtained the address of today’s Bane of My Existence: (I smell a regular feature here…) the individual responsible for the design of the National Post’s website. I think they employ the “Thousand Monkeys” school of design over there.

As someone who regularly pays his hard earned 25 cents (Canadian dollar, no less) for the paper, I feel entitled to better than that miscarriage of web design, but then again, I feel entitled to a lot of things. Go figure.

Direct tirades in the direction of:

Design Director
Gayle Grin

May 02, 2002

On Massacres, or the lack thereof

In more ways then I would care to admit, the “Jenin Massacre” is a lot like the “Boston Massacre” and I’m sure I’m far from the first person to notice it. Both were by and large inventions of the media - while popularization of the Boston Massacre owes most of its success to the now famous engraving by Paul Revere, the source of exactly who turned the Jenin “battle” into the “massacre” is unsure. (Although my finger is waving somewhere in the direction of Kristina Amanpour)

Also like the Boston Massacre, the coverage of the event has very little to do with accuracy, and everything to do with the need for a tangible example of the oppressive, murderous enemy. In the 1770’s, a drunken fight between a few angry townspeople and some British soldiers resulting in the death’s of five people was transformed into a hapless slaughter of innocent American colonists by the Imperial Army. Just as today, the deaths of (so far) 56 people, in a pitched battle between IDF forces and known terrorists and guerilla fighters has been transmogrified into something resembling the sacking of an entire town, complete with pillaging, burning, and maybe a little rape for good measure.

We can only hope that mythical interpretation of what happened in Jenin doesn’t have the same P.R. affect Mr. Revere’s work did back in the good old days, but I worry it already has.
I hate the National Post's main page. I mean, I loath it with a passion that burns with the fire of a thousand suns. A shiny hyperlink to the man who brings me the head of their web-designer.
From the Guardian:
Arafat Leaves Headquarters for the First Time in Months

What caught my attention here was this little bit:

Arafat smiled as the crowd chanted: "With our spirit and our blood, we will redeem you, oh Arafat."

Pardon me, but What the Fuck? He’s been locked up for months, he hasn’t been assassinated, so why does anyone need to “redeem” him “with blood”? This is the state of Palestine today (pun intended) – violent mobs are just itching for any reason to kill themselves and/or others over just about anything:

Yasser finally got let out of his room? Redeem him with Blood! Kill the infidels to make him look good! Do you think can just lock him up, then let him out, and then expect people not to be killed for besmirching his image?

I mean, fuck - if Israel reacted to everything this way, by now they would have already marched across the Middle East, salted the earth, and strung every Arab up by their genitals. Hundreds of Israelis are murdered by a steady flood of suicide bombers, and they go to the place where the bombers are made to put a stop to it. But when the Palestinian leader is let out of his confinement, they promise to redeem him with blood. Fine, good. As long as it’s your own.
Jonah Goldberg scores a major slam dunk on this one:

The "Arab street," after all, refers to the poorly dressed and unwashed throngs of semi-literate, anti-American, and Jew-hating Arab fanatics who daily burn American and Israeli flags along the boulevards of Cairo and Beirut.

The "European street," meanwhile, tends to be better dressed.

Read more.
The last five Google searches that directed people here were:

1) “Seed Package Poems”
2) “Aaron brown” “drudge”
3) “Amish Tech Support”
4) “Aaron Brown + CNN + Drudge”
5) “Blogging and Related Theories”

Fascinating. I hope everyone found what they we’re looking for.

May 01, 2002

French poetry mania sweeps blogosphere: news at 11.

The poetry contest has inspired Happy-Fun Pundit to write his own quasi-villanelle. Check it out here
Ok folks, you know what day it is: Poetry Day!

Not only that, but it is also the end of the First Annual Warblogger Stupid French Poetry Contest!

As I’ve already said, the submissions I received were brilliant. I was stunned, humbled, and entertained by all the entries – which number four. Four poems - it may not sound like much, but rest assured it is. Those who wrote them, you understand the sadistic nature of the villanelle, a poetry style so devious in construction it’s very existence is a monument to France’s hatred of the rest of the world. But enough preamble, lets get to the submissions:

From the Yasser Arafat Category, we have this untitled work from File13’s Laurence Simon:

lie as much as you want don't you think we can tell
there was once hope for peace you chose carnage instead
you can laugh all you want when you're burning in hell

i can't think which is worse: what you say or your smell
as you sit in the dark with a price on your head
lie as much as you want don't you think we can tell

you won't tell them to stop you just rant and you yell
but the fools that still follow you all turn up dead
you can laugh all you want when you're burning in hell

they will crack your foul spirit like a nut in a shell
with hot pokers and rods they will sear your flesh red
lie as much as you want don't you think we can tell

either leave here for good or you'll rot in a cell
with the dark as your prison and cold stone for your bed
you can laugh all you want when you're burning in hell

you can stock up with lies but with us they won't sell
now you must pay the price for the life you have led
lie as much as you want don't you think we can tell
you can laugh all you want when you're burning in hell

Next up, is the first of two submissions on the subject of Suicide Bombers:

"Ode to a Suicide Bomber"
by Barry D. Wood

You go ahead and light your little fuse,
O troglodyte of Arab savagery;
You’re still a century behind the Jews.

The Israel you and your ilk abuse
Will outlast you and your barbarity;
You go ahead and light your little fuse.

Despite the guff your state-run media spews,
And all the chanting crowds in Araby,
You’re still a century behind the Jews.

It’s Palestine your terror-bombing screws,
Your children you condemn to misery;
You go ahead and light your little fuse.

Your clinging to your dark and hateful views
Has kept you stagnant, stupid, and unfree;
You’re still a century behind the Jews.

How long will it be before you choose
To join with Israel in being free?
You go ahead and light your little fuse;
You¹re still a century behind the Jews.

The second entry under the Suicide Bomber category comes from my very own mother, and warmonger in training – Mrs. Elizabeth Kirby:

The Package
By Beth Kirby

My daughter, my daughter, you ask what I need
Take this package to market, a gift for another
Listen to your father as he bids you to lead

With years of my hatred I’ve planted the seed
Take this package held tight, a debt for your brother
My daughter, my daughter, you ask what I need

There’s hope for our future if you do as I plead
Take the package to market for the sake of your mother
Listen to your father as he bids you to lead

My hatred, my vengeance, off this you must feed
Don’t linger, don’t ponder, don’t think of your lover
My daughter, my daughter you ask what I need

When passing the checkpoints my daughter take heed
Your youth and your smile will provide you some cover
Listen to your father as he bids you to lead

Our future, our children require your deed
How can you ask how much you must suffer
My daughter, my daughter you ask what I need
Listen to your father as he asks you to lead.

Last but not least, a little piece regarding some of the fascinating qualities of European “culture”:

By Rami Genauer

Must every European hate the Jews?
Absurd some say but how absurd, who knows?
If not, though, why is that what they all choose?

You'd think that after World War II they'd lose
Their spite for Jews, but in their veins it flows
Must every European hate the Jews?

Their poll results do nothing but confuse
Israeli acts, by law, they must oppose
If not, though, why is that what they all choose?

But worse, damage accompanies their views
An ember from a synagogue still glows
Must every European hate the Jews?

The worst, the French, might make designer shoes
But force the masses to eat escargots
If not, then why is that what they all choose?

But jokes aside, the problem continues
Their rhetoric sounds like the P.L.O.'s
Must every European hate the Jews?
If not, then why is that what they all choose?

That’s it, a fantastic turnout if I do say so myself. I never really gave much thought to how, if at all, I was going to judge or award prizes to the winner of the contest, (one reader suggested a reward in the form of permalinks from someone like Instapundit, something which, were it in any way within my power, would already have been used for evil) but the best I can offer is a semi-permalink at the top of my own modest blogroll. I’m loath to have to choose one work over another, but this is a contest after all, and if I don’t offer something, nobody will play next time, and my traffic generating scheme will fall apart. To that end, I choose none other then Mister Laurence Simon as this year’s winner – congratulations, and everyone reward him by visiting his blog: File13’s Amish Tech Support.

Laurence wins mainly by virtue of having a blog to link to, not being my mother, and shamelessly linking to your truly already. I know, I’m as corrupt as a French Skating Judge, but what do you expect in such a contest?