Monday, March 07, 2005


Stork Reality

While looking for some pictures of the amazing shoebill (don't ask), I came across this story about a similar bird, the marabou stork:
Marabous can become rather tame and will stand with a few feet of workers cleaning carcasses, patiently waiting for scraps. A Marabou in Kenya swallowed an entire bloody butcher knife that had been set down momentarily by an abattoir worker. The spotlessly clean knife was found a few days later where the stork had apparently regurgitated it in the same manner it would indigestible natural foods.
Question: where did the legend come from that a relative of this bird delivers babies?

Saturday, March 05, 2005


Friendly Fire?

The abuse of language has reached a new abyss with reporting on the death of Nicola Calipari, who threw himself over newly-released hostage Giuliana Sgrena to protect her from being killed by US soldiers at a checkpoint near Baghdad. I was watching MSNBC this morning and listening to WCBS radio and both called the incident "friendly fire". When I searched google news for "friendly fire" and "Sgrena" there were 566 stories with both search elements.

"Friendly fire" is the euphemism used when military personnel are killed in combat by their own forces. Do they call the frequent killing of Iraqi civilians at checkpoints and elsewhere "friendly fire"? I don't get the impression that Silvio Berlusconi considers it friendly.

Friday, March 04, 2005


The Law of Averages

I was reading a story on about today's jobs report from the Labor Department and I came across this quote:
Economists had forecast the economy created 225,000 new payroll jobs last month, according to a survey by However, privately, some economists were looking for a number well above the consensus.
Um, last time I checked, a consensus forecast was composed of forecasts that are, by definition, above (and below) the consensus.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


Abizaid Goes "Extreme"

General John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command in the Middle East, makes a strong contribution to the ongoing Pentagon effort to spread the "extreme" meme. In a 16-minute interview with Jim Lehrer on last night's NewsHour, he managed to use the term "extremist" 11 times! Meanwhile, he only referred to "terror" or "terroists" five times. He even manages to slip in a "struggle against extremists", one of my personal favorites. A fine showing, General!


The New Afghanistan

Juxtapose this:
Karzai Names Strongman Dostum His Chief of Staff
with this:
The United Nations is investigating claims that General Abdul Rashid Dostum, an Afghan warlord and a key US ally during the war against the Taliban, tortured witnesses to prevent them from testifying against him in a war crimes inquiry.
For more background on the war crimes allegations, read the Newsweek article "The Death Convoy of Afghanistan", archived here.

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