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Saturday, June 12, 2004

:: Pip 11:20 AM

*Ø* Please bury Ronnie soon, it's embarrassing

Jeez. If they don't plant the old guy soon he'll go off like a bucket of prawns. What can they be thinking? He's been dead for about a month already.

All I know is that I'm glad that I've chosen the road most travelled, the path of mediocre achievement. I don't want to lie in state, not in summer, anyway. And I'm sure my rello's wouldn't want it either. I've asked my friends to do something funny with my corpse, but hopefully not let it bloat up like someone from Jonestown or an American TV audience.

One idea I suggested years ago to Mr Peg and Baz le Tuff is to put my carcase in a trick coffin, one that's just held together with a few small nails or some Blu-Tak (TM), and get the hearse to do a roaring wheelie around Woolworths corner in Sydney at lunchtime, making sure that Wilson skittles a dozen or so office workers and unsuspecting shoppers. And chuck some pig offal into the casket beforehand, just for that Ed Wood-meets-Mel Gibson effect.

The other plan was to get hoisted at half-mast up a flagpole. And maybe ceremoniously bury a flag at the foot of it. Peg and Baz respect me, I'm sure, but I don't know if they would honour me that way. They're both pretty slack. And it could be pushing the friendship a bit far, but I have a feeling they'll actually do it. I've known them both to do sillier things over the past 43 years. One day I might tell all. Remind me to mention the cut-up Picasso stunt. "Subdivision art," Mr Peg called it.

The weather here in summer is probably why we don't make politicians lie in state in Australia. (Apart, of course, from the fact that we hate the lot of them.) We have too many blowflies, and it's just plain too warm most of the time, in most parts of the continent. It's even unwise to eat anything at a barbecue that you haven't actually seen taken from a freezer less than 10 minutes before burning. That includes lettuce, which I'm told harbours a great many micro-organisms. We lost a prime minister who ate a warm kebab once, which is why ever since, it's uncool to be an Arab here. And we certainly didn't stick him on a plinth in the hot sun so he would pong like Danish blue cheese. Must be an Old World thing, i.e, American.

Obsequies from the obsequious
Or maybe we don't honour our pollies the way the Yanks apparently do because we reckon our so-called leaders have done enough lying in state already and it'd be kinder to everyone to get them six foot under pushing up the daisies rather than take the risk that they're just pretending, or in a coma or something. I believe there was some doubt about that with the former US president.

However, our American cousins love a parade and any chance to get out those 300 million plastic flags. And 300 million obsequies about an old man who was either the greatest leader and nicest bloke in God's favourite hemisphere, or a cretinous, cruel bastard who oversaw the deaths of 100,000 Central Americans, depending on which bullshit website you trust.

I do give Reagan due credit for helping to end the Cold War (it's just the way he did it that makes me feel like dropping him off at Woolworths corner), but perhaps the commentators might like also to mention Gorby, who could be said to have had a teensy weensy bit to do with it as well. Although, according to Sakharov, one of the main factors in Gorbachev's backdown was that he was convinced that Star Wars would work, despite the frantic propaganda to the contrary that his KGB and Western friends of the USSR promulgated in the 1980s like a gaggle of disingenuous pre-schoolers pretending they aren't hiding anything behind their backs.

Vale, Ronald Wilson Reagan. Loved your hair. Just don't mention your middle name at the Pearly Gates.

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:: Pip 11:17 AM

*Ø* Funniest fukn thing I've heard on radio for years

Home handyman talkback show, this morning:

First handyman: Rhonda from Westmead's on the line. Rhonda wants to know how to drill a hole in a teddy bear. Unhappy childhood Rhonda?
Second Handyman: 357 Magnum.

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Friday, June 11, 2004

:: Pip 6:00 PM

*Ø* 1964 John, Paul George and Jimmy

June 11, 1964 The Beatles arrived in Australia at Darwin airport at the beginning of their 'down under' tour.

An enterprising Australian promoter had booked them some time prior to their major international success, at a price that by this day had become ludicrous. However, Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, was a true gentleman and honoured the contract to bring the Fab Four to the antipodes, despite the fact that they made no money on the tour and could easily have paid out the contract.

Much to the fans' disappointment, Ringo Starr wasn't there, but at home in London hospital with a bad case of tonsillitis. The band hired Jimmy Nicol as a stand-in for Ringo. He only played a few shows before Mr Starkey arrived on June 14. A press typo at the time had fans believing the Beatles' drummer had had his 'toenails' removed. Their opening act was Kiwi rocker, Johnny Devlin.

World record crowd in 'the City of Churches'
The next day, the Fab Four hit Adelaide, South Australia. There, even though it was a working day (Friday), not a weekend, an estimated 350,000 to 400,000 people – out of a population of fewer than 900,000 – lined the streets to see the band. Very few crowds in history, it’s been said, had been bigger anywhere – Gandhi’s funeral being a notable exception with about one million. Big stars had rarely been to Adelaide before, but the Beatles' amazing success there helped put the town on the world entertainment map and must have contributed to the small city’s current standing as one of the cultural centres of Australia.

Australia was Beatle crazy, and the Mop Tops said they were overwhelmed by the size of reception in each Australian city they played: Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, larger than the crowds in any country.

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date when you're there.

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:: Pip 12:26 PM

*Ø* Fair trial? Hicks's military lawyer has doubts

This army man must have balls of steel: Major Michael Mori, American military lawyer for Australian POW David Hicks (left), has bravely expressed his reservations that Hicks will get a fair trial from the Americans.

"The defence team intends to fight these allegations, and that's all they are is allegations, to the fullest extent that we're allowed to and the resources that are provided to us," Major Mori told Reuters.

"It's unfortunate these allegations will never be tested in a fair and established justice system. There's just a complete lack of the independent judiciary and the independent appeals process that are the backbone of any criminal justice system we're used to. It's such a departure from fundamental fairness."

US denies flouting the law following leaked torture memos
US torture policy: "It's not rotten apples, it's at the top of gov't" – lawyer
CCR Files Lawsuit Against Private Contractors For Torture Conspiracy
CCR Obtains Internal Pentagon Report Outlining Framework For Use Of Torture

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:: Pip 7:39 AM

*Ø* USA to charge 42 million with war crimes

Now that Australian David Hicks has been charged with war crimes, plans are afoot in the US administration to charge retrospectively every soldier who has ever been in an army that was an enemy of the United States.

Mr Donald Rumsfeld told a packed press conference in the White House's Eva Braun Garden that the Hicks case had inspired a general feeling of "yeah, we can do this" in the White Bunker. "We used operate on this narrow notion that a war crime is when you go into a village and kill all the babies. You know, like we did at My Lai. And all those rinky-dink countries. But we define that as psyops now. Then that Aussie punk comes along, and Ashcroft says to me, 'Hey, if that Aussie guy can be charged with war crimes just for training in an enemy military camp, it should be a walkover to charge the Japs for World War Two.' The Germans and Italians was my idea. We almost forgot the Ruskies but that one was the President's."

Apparently the idea of retrospectivity can also be attributed to the Hicks case. "You can thank Lynnnnndddie ... I mean, Condolleeeezzzza for that," Mr Rumsfeld giggled. "The President was concerned that there was no precedent for charging the British for fighting us so long ago, till I pointed out that the Aussie has been more than two years in detention and no one cared, in fact we have shitloads of prisons full of war criminals over there in Cuba and Eye-raq, so ... retrospeckshmivity."

"It's just a shame that we let all those soldiers in the past go free after their terrorist actions, but they won't get away with it for much longer", he added.

When asked how the United States could possibly charge every service man and woman in the world, and through all history, with war crimes, and carry out prosecutions, Mr Rumsfeld replied that the concept that the USA can not do anything at all does not make grammatical sense and asked for the sentence to be re-worded.

An order for 42 million orange jump suits and 84 million testicle electrodes has been placed with a corporation jointly owned by the White House, Standard Oil, Enron and Halliburton.

No word has been heard of the other Australian, Mamdouh Habib, believed to be being held in the Colored Guys section of Guantanamo Bay, from which no one has ever emerged.

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Thursday, June 10, 2004

:: Pip 6:54 PM

Pinocchio Watch
*Ø* Bush's comment was a set-up

A few days ago, US President Bush outraged a great many Australians, probably a majority, by stepping over a conventional line, into Australian domestic politics (as posted here on Friday June 4). A lot of commentators made it seem like it was just a throw-away line. It was not.

Now veteran and highly respected Australian journalist Alan Ramsey tells the background story in an article One question makes it all worthwhile at the Sydney Morning Herald. Australia's Prime Minister, John Howard, was with Shrub in the Rose Garden for a media conference, and when the conference was about to close, Howard made sure that a Rupert Murdoch journalist (Steve Lewis from Murdoch's The Australian newspaper) put the clincher question to the Prez.

Read on for what really happened:

"The locals' two questions showed no interest in Bush's visitor. The first Australian question asked when the incarcerated [Australian citizens] David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib, buried alive in Guantanamo Bay for 2 years without charge, would face trial. Bush mumbled a non-reply about 'the case proceeding'. The second Australian question incited Howard. As an American reporter tried to grab the last opportunity, Howard interjected: 'Mr Lewis, Steve Lewis, The Australian.'

"Lewis, taking his cue: 'President Bush, if I could ask a question?' Bush, scanning the media gaggle: 'Where are you?' Lewis: 'Just here. Thank you.' And then the Murdoch press gallery journalist from Canberra asked the question his Prime Minister had gone half round the world to get answered, out loud, for his election campaign ads.

"Lewis: 'Mr Howard and yourself reaffirmed the commitment to stay the course in Iraq. Are you aware the alternative prime minister in Australia, Mark Latham, has promised to withdraw Australian troops by Christmas if he wins the election? What signal would that send to the Iraqi people and the other members of the coalition of the willing?'

"Bush obliged, fully and freely, what his script writers had failed to deliver: 'I think that would be disastrous. It would be a disastrous decision for the leader of a great country like Australia to say, "We're pulling out". It would disspirit those people who love freedom in Iraq. It would say the Australian government doesn't see hope of a free and democratic society leading to a peaceful world. It would embolden the enemy, who believe they can shake our will. See, they want to kill innocent life, because they think the Western world, the free world, is weak. That when times get tough, we will shirk our duty to those who long for freedom, and we'll leave. And I, anyway - [to clamouring reporters] no, you can't [ask] any more. Thank you all for coming.'

"John Howard, beaming: 'Thank you.'

"And thank you, oh thank you, Steve Lewis."

Aussie cultural cringe Vs. Helping the USA get rid of Dubya

Lewis's question was a Dorothy Dixer, as we call them in Oz: a set-up question. Note the way he asks "What signal would that send to the Iraqi people and the other members of the coalition of the willing?" He served it to the Shrub on a plate.

Australians will be going to the polls soon, at a date yet to be set but quite likely before the US election. No wonder Howard was beaming. Like Bush, he lives in the socks drawer of Rupert ("I no longer call Australia Home") Moloch.

If Mark Latham's Labor Party wins power and pulls Australian troops out of Iraq, it will be a bigger slap in the face to Shrub than most Aussies realise, and at a very important time. It will definitely harm Shrub's campaign as American electors get further confirmation of disapproval of his policies from allies in the world.

Australians typically underrate their country as a world power, because we are smaller than Britain and the USA, our main cultural influences. We shouldn't. That cultural cringe should have died 40 years ago. We have the world's 12th largest economy out of 190 nations. In most fields of endeavour, be they cultural, scientific, political, sporting or whatever, we punch well above our weight in the international arena. We have more international clout that we credit ourselves with.

We should remember this, I feel, when we enter the polling booths in a few months time. Bush wants our votes real bad. This is why people as high in the US administration as Powell and Armitage have also been mouthing off about Latham's plan to exit Iraq. They've been as noisy as a chookhouse full of goannas. It will be a bigger blow to Shrub than when Spain vamoosed. We should shoot through like a Bondi tram, and help the dinkum Seppos get rid of Bush, an' I tell ya that fer nuthin.

Normally, I reckon ya wouldn't lay a bait for most Labor pollies, but I'll be votin for them this time. Even though Peter Garrett, who joined Labor yesty, now says that we should keep Pine Gap, the American spy station we host here. As he once sang,

Power and the Passion Lyrics
Artist: Midnight Oil

Sunburnt faces around, with skin so brown
Smiling zinc cream and crowds, Sundays the beach never a cloud
Breathing eucalypt, pushing panel vans
Stuff and munch junk food
Laughing at the truth, cos Gough was tough til he hit the rough
Uncle Sam and John were quite enough

Too much of sunshine too much of sky
It's enough to make you want to cry

Oh the power and the passion, oh the temper of the time
Oh the power and the passion
Sometimes you've got to take the hardest line

I see buildings, clothing the sky, in paradise
Sydney, nights are warm
Daytime telly, blue rinse dawn
Dad's so bad he lives in the pub, it's a underarms and football clubs
Flat chat, Pine Gap, in every home a Big Mac
And no one goes outback, that's that
You take what you get and get what you please
It's better to die on your feet than to live on your knees

Oh the power and the passion ...

Now back to our overseas commentary, after this important word from our sponsor.

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:: Pip 2:24 PM

*Ø* US "not founded on Christianity": Washington

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion, – as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims], – and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
Treaty between USA and Libya, proclaimed by George Washington, the first President of the United States, June 10, 1797

More at the Scriptorium: Was the USA founded on Christianity?

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date when you're there.

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:: Pip 2:00 PM

*Ø* The madness of King George W

Bush's Erratic Behavior Worries White House Aides

"President George W. Bush's increasingly erratic behavior and wide mood swings has the halls of the West Wing buzzing lately as aides privately express growing concern over their leader’s state of mind.

"In meetings with top aides and administration officials, the President goes from quoting the Bible in one breath to obscene tantrums against the media, Democrats and others that he classifies as 'enemies of the state.'

"Worried White House aides paint a portrait of a man on the edge, increasingly wary of those who disagree with him and paranoid of a public that no longer trusts his policies in Iraq or at home.

"'It reminds me of the Nixon days,' says a longtime GOP political consultant with contacts in the White House. 'Everybody is an enemy; everybody is out to get him. That’s the mood over there.'"
Source: Capitol Hill Blue via our link partners, Stage Left

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:: Pip 1:50 PM

*Ø* Blair as tragic figure

From a provocative new Atlantic article, 'The Tragedy of Tony Blair'

"From an American perspective, it may be worth asking whether at this moment, in the extraordinary new unipolar world with the United States as an unrivaled military hyperpower, America needs an unquestioning and uncritical supporter. Mightn't something be said for a candid friend, brave and clear-eyed enough to tell the all-powerful one when it is in error? Not very long ago America took Blair to its heart. Now the Washington war party comes close to treating him as a 'useful idiot,' and Americans opposed to the war are bitterly disappointed in him. As for the liberal hawks, they must surely grasp the hideous paradox Blair embodies: in order that democracy hypothetically or in theory be brought to the Middle East, it has actually and in practice been very gravely damaged in Europe, above all in the country that used to be called the mother of parliaments.

"At a time when representative government is not looking in good shape in America (or so many Americans evidently think), and when much of the world is dismayed by the path America is taking, Blair could have offered an alternative vision of political honesty, domestic accountability, and international humility. Instead the man who not so long ago seemed a new ideal in himself now stands alone, truly a great tragic figure."
Source: The Atlantic

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:: Pip 1:46 PM

*Ø* No-CARB diet for USA election

Have you heard this one? the No-CARB diet is

No Cheney
No Ashcroft
No Rumsfeld
No Bush

And absolutely no Rice.

I saw it at ResourceFull, another cool blog and one of our link partners.

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:: Pip 1:12 PM

*Ø* Genital Cutting Losing Favour in Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya: "Slowly, genital cutting is losing favor. Parliaments are passing laws forbidding the practice, which causes widespread death and disfigurement. Girls are fleeing their homes to keep their vaginas intact. And the women who have been carrying out the cutting, and who have been revered by their communities for doing so, are beginning to lay down their knives."

I got this from Metafilter. I've had this great blog linked in the Planet Directory for more than a year, but today was the first visit I've made in that time. What an excellent community blog! I'll be visiting more regularly from now on.

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Wednesday, June 09, 2004

:: Pip 11:05 PM

*Ø* Midnight Oil frontman for Oz Parliament

Garrett has mixed feelings
"Peter Garrett has mixed feelings about his move to federal politics, but was taking the step because of his commitment to the nation, a friend said.

"Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) executive director Don Henry said the former rock star had told him he was resigning as president to join the ALP and run for parliament.

"In the first hint of Mr Garrett's mindset since speculation erupted about the move, Mr Henry said the singer appeared to have mixed feelings about his transition to politics but was nonetheless calm."
Source: AAP
Peter Garrett and the best of both worlds

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:: Pip 7:46 PM

*Ø* Bad day at Myall Creek

1838 Myall Creek Massacre, Australia

On Saturday, June 9, 1838, twelve European stockmen rounded up approximately 20 Kwiambal people at Myall Creek (a branch of the Gwydir River), and killed them with knives and guns. The stockmen, who had accused the Aboriginal people of pilfering, were acquitted at a trial on November 15, but faced trial again on November 29 and were found guilty. Seven of the twelve murderers were executed under Governor Sir George Gipps’s authority.

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date when you're there.

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:: Veralynne 3:58 PM

*Ø* Leo Strauss, the neo-cons, and Iraq

In case you missed it:

Noble lies and perpetual war:
Leo Strauss, the neo-cons, and Iraq

By Danny Postel

Are the ideas of the conservative political philosopher
Leo Strauss a shaping influence on the Bush administration’s
world outlook? Danny Postel interviews Shadia Drury – a
leading scholarly critic of Strauss – and asks her about the
connection between Plato’s dialogues, secrets and lies, and
the United States-led war in Iraq.

What was initially an anti-war argument is now a matter of public record. It is widely recognised that the Bush administration was not honest about the reasons it gave for invading Iraq.

Paul Wolfowitz, the influential United States deputy secretary of defense, has acknowledged that the evidence used to justify the war was “murky” and now says that weapons of mass destruction weren’t the crucial issue anyway (see the book by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber, Weapons of Mass Deception: the uses of propaganda in Bush’s war on Iraq (2003.)

By contrast, Shadia Drury, professor of political theory at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, argues that the use of deception and manipulation in current US policy flow directly from the doctrines of the political philosopher Leo Strauss (1899-1973). His disciples include Paul Wolfowitz and other neo-conservatives who have driven much of the political agenda of the Bush administration.

If Shadia Drury is right, then American policy-makers exercise deception with greater coherence than their British allies in Tony Blair’s 10 Downing Street. In the UK, a public inquiry is currently underway into the death of the biological weapons expert David Kelly. A central theme is also whether the government deceived the public, as a BBC reporter suggested. [Emphasis added. -v]


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:: Pip 10:48 AM

*Ø* East coast koalas could die out

"The Federal Government has been asked to list Australia's koalas as a vulnerable species, with new research showing the animals could be extinct in the eastern states within 15 years.

"The Australian Koala Foundation has been conducting surveys of 1,000 sites along the east coast and says the population is being decimated by urban sprawl, roads through the middle of koala habitat and dogs."
Source: ABC [Oz] News

There are many places I've lived where I've been tempted to erect a billboard: "Welcome to [name of town or suburb], where we prefer dogs from Europe to native koalas". Grrrr

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:: Pip 8:55 AM

*Ø* Islamophobia pervades UK - report

"Persistent and untackled Islamophobia in the UK could lead to 'time-bombs' of backlash and bitterness, according to a major report.

"Findings by a national commission into Islam in Britain found the aftermath of the 11 September attacks has made life more difficult for Muslims.

"It criticised public bodies for failing to address institutional Islamophobia.

"But it said schools and hospitals had become much more sensitive to the religious needs of Muslims ..."
Source: BBC News

"It is not racism, it is hatred of the religion" (Video, requires Real)

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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

:: Pip 8:57 PM

*Ø* Israel kills 34 Americans on US ship

Remember this from school? No, I didn't think so.

1967 Israeli attack on USS Liberty: in a little-known incident of aggression, during Israel's ‘Six-Day War’, the NSA intelligence ship USS Liberty was attacked on the boundary line of Sinai Peninsula's international waters north of El-Arish, by Israeli fighter planes and torpedo boats.

In all, 34 American servicemen were killed and 172 wounded in the attacks, or more than two-thirds of the Liberty's 295 crew.

The action included rocket fire, machine-gunning, napalm bombing and torpedoing for more than two hours. Israeli fighter jets machine gunned life-rafts as American crewmen put them in the water. A ship was forbidden to go to Liberty's assistance.

The incident was downplayed by the government, and the media reported that the incident lasted only five minutes and consisted of a single torpedo attack ...

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date when you're there.

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:: Pip 6:55 PM

*Ø* Reagan no B-actor

He was a long-term friend of my uncle (photo), and I remember the Christmas cards from Ron and Nancy each and every Christmas, so I've naturally long had an interest in the late Ronald Reagan.

Reagan has a stigma. I doubt that, apart from within my family circle, in the countless times I've heard Reagan's name mentioned over the decades, it has ever been without either rancour or mirth.

I've also noticed that he is almost invariably referred to as a 'B-movie actor'. The term 'B-movie' denotes a particular kind of studio production, and I don't believe Reagan's extensive filmography supports this assertion. Australia's 'Mr Movies', Bill Collins, a brilliant walking encyclopaedia of film, says that Reagan was an A-movie actor first and foremost, and who am I to disagree with Collins? Certainly during Reagan's career, he was not seen as a 'B actor', either, regardless of the studios' nomenclature of the films he was in. He was hugely popular in his day, and he didn't 'appear' in movies, he usually starred in them. I haven't seen him on screen much, but I don't think he was too bad, against the background of his era.

I see that Bill Collins is backed up by none other than Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia:

"He had a pleasant screen presence, and was by no means as bad an actor as his detractors would have one believe. Nor was he strictly, as the press would have it, 'a B-movie actor'.
Ronald Reagan bio at IMDB

So, whatever one thinks of the late Ronald Reagan's politics or character, maybe the B-actor moniker can be seen as questionable at least.

As for his intellectual capabilities, I just can't accept that an idiot can get to be President of the Screen Actors' Guild, Governor of California and especially President of the USA. George W Bush notwithstanding – as much as I, like most people, like to ridicule Bush, I think he is more wily than he is stupid. Too many smart and ruthless men vie for the White House, for its resident to be a bumbling fool.

I think.

Let's put politics aside for a moment (and I'm no Reagan apologist): Ronald Wilson Reagan also had a sense of humour, and I like that. I have at hand a copy of a letter he wrote to my Uncle Fred a few years ago, congratulating him on the "37th anniversary of your 39th birthday". Now, that's pretty good and I wish I'd thought of it.

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:: Pip 4:18 PM

*Ø* Viking pillage of Lindisfarne

June 8 is, rather perversely, one might say, celebrated by Odinists (worshippers of Odin, the Norse god).

Odin is the supreme deity of the old religion of Norway, eldest of all the gods in the Nordic pantheon and leader of the race of gods known as the Aesir, they who live in Asgard. Odin is called All-father for he is father of all the gods.

It is the day that in 793 Vikings raided Lindisfarne, the holy island off the coast of Northumberland. The Vikings hacked the monks to death or dragged them into the sea where they drowned them. The chapels and monastery were looted of the riches they contained, much of which had been derived from the payment by the common folk for their indulgences – monetary payments to safeguard them from the torments of hell. The treasure included gold, silver, jewellery, ivory coffins and much beside.

It was not the first violent encounter between Vikings and the people of the British Isles – in 789 the crews of three Viking vessels landed at the present site of Portland, near Weymouth, England ...

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date when you're there.

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Monday, June 07, 2004

:: Pip 10:01 PM

*Ø* Taj Mahal love story

June 7, 1631 While on a campaign with her husband (Shah Jahan, Mughal Emperor of India), Mumtaz Mahal died.

The Taj Mahal, described by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore as "a tear on the face of eternity", is often said to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, and is her tomb.

The grand Taj Mahal stands as a monument to the love of a man for a woman. As she lay on her deathbed, it is said that Mumtaz whispered to Jahan a dying wish for him to build a monument that would express the beauty of their love for each other. Stricken with grief, Shah Jahan remained indoors for a week; when he emerged his hair had turned white, his back was now bent, and his face lined with despair ...

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date when you're there.

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:: Pip 9:56 PM

*Ø* Marital bliss: Proof required

The Dunmow Flitch, ancient custom of marital bliss

This quaint ancient ceremony is an annual event in Little Dunmow, Essex, England, which died out in 1772 but has been revived at various times.

A married couple would present themselves to town authorities for the trials; if they could prove that they had lived for twelve months without ever wishing, either awake or asleep, that they weren't married, they would receive a gammon or flitch of bacon – half a pig, also known as a side of bacon ...

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date when you're there.

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Sunday, June 06, 2004

:: Pip 11:37 PM

*Ø* Fake terror – the road to war and dictatorship

Thanks to Michael Rivero at What Really Happened website, I've obtained reprint rights to a stimulating article that has already appeared on many sites.

Although it's been read by many before, I thought it was well worthwhile adding Fake terror – the road to war and dictatorship to the list of more than 115 pieces in our Articles department. Check it out.

Thanks, Mike!

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:: Pip 7:49 PM

*Ø* D-Day crossword coincidence

June 6, 1944 D-Day: the biggest invasion in world history began – more than one million men from 4,000 ships landed on beaches in northern France, beaches codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The day had been set for June 5, but was postponed due to impossible weather conditions.

It was a coincidence, officer ... honest!

Poor old Leonard Sidney Dawe. All the English schoolmaster wanted to do was produce a good crossword puzzle for London's Daily Telegraph as he did each day in 1944.

Little did he expect to be raided by secret agents of MI5, Britain’s spy agency. On May 2 of that year, one of the clues in the Telegraph's crossword was 'One of the U.S.' This gave the answer 'UTAH'. On May 12, one of the solutions was 'OMAHA'. On different days throughout May and early June, Dawe's puzzle solutions included the words 'OVERLORD', 'MULBERRY' (May 31), and 'NEPTUNE' (June 2).

So why were the British spooks interested in Mr Dawe? A remarkable coincidence had occurred in his innocent crossword. 'Overlord' was the Allies' codename for the entire Normandy invasion that was planned for June 6 – D-Day as we know it now. 'Utah' and 'Omaha' were ciphers for two of the beaches on which the Allies would be landing. 'Neptune' was code for the naval part of the operation, and 'Mulberry', the artificial harbour which would be put in place after the landing. Dawe had unwittingly stumbled into one of history's great coincidences, his pen being mistaken by MI5 as a likely tool of German espionage ...

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date when you're there.

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:: Pip 7:41 PM

*Ø* Venus transits, then and now

June 6, 1760 The transit of Venus over the Sun.

Transits of Venus are rare, coming in pairs, 8 years apart, separated by approximately 120 years. The next such transit, on June 3, 1769, was observed at Tahiti by a party led by legendary mariner Captain James Cook (October 27, 1728 - February 14, 1779), on a voyage on which Cook claimed the continent of Australia in the name of King George III of Britain.

Almaniac Mary Anne Sabo informs me that the next one will be June 8, 2004. Click the link, it's a very cool page.
James Cook and the transit of Venus
History of Venus transits

This is just a snippet of today's stories. Read all about today in folklore, historical oddities, inspiration and alternatives, with more links, at the Wilson's Almanac Book of Days, every day. Click today's date when you're there.

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