Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Confession of a New York Times Junkie

It's true. I am, or I was. As quickly as I'll turn my nose up at cilantro, I'll readily reach for yesterday's edition of the New York Times. Some of that may be a result of hometown chauvinism, some of it may be because I secretly longed to be Cary Grant's Rosalind Russell in His Gal Friday (or was it that I wanted to be Cary Grant? probably both...), but mostly it's because IMO, there's no other paper that tops it in terms of content, variety and writing. I read it everyday, stay in bed with it on Sunday mornings, and have been known to pay three times the newstand price when I stray from NYC. I've stuck by it through Jayson Blair, its format changes, its lack of comics, the addition of color, even TimesSelect, and Lord knows I have gone to the mat for it singlehandedly on the pages of Heigh Ho.

But last week's discussion picked at one of its dirty little secrets that I thought I had forgotten but I remember now that I haven't: My revered paper, that herald of First Amendment rights, that bastion of all the news that's fit to print, sat on a "breaking news" story for a whole year--and most probably during a Presidential election-- before it decided to publish it. I realize this is not new news and, regretably, there are many more pressing and critical news stories looming but it still galls me. I still find this decision by my "paper of choice" down right stupefying, if not, unconscionable. Would Edward Murrow or Fred Friendly have allowed that to happen? Ben Bradlee? Jimmy Olson's Perry White? I dare say no.

I might be willing to give more credence to the paper's claims that it needed more time to fact check the story if in the same paragraph I had not read that it held off on publishing the story because the WH told the editors with whom it met that there was nothing to worry about: "a year ago," officials "assured senior editors of The Times that a variety of legal checks had been imposed that satisfied everyone involved that the program raised no legal questions." So the paper "agreed not to publish at that time" and continued reporting. But in the months that followed, Mr. Keller said, "we developed a fuller picture of the concerns and misgivings that had been expressed during the life of the program" and "it became clear those questions loomed larger within the government than we had previously understood."

Yeah, that's how I like my news served up: over easy with a side of "whatever you say, boss." Besides the outright hypocrisy of it all, and the fact that we all know now that it ran with the story because it was going to be scooped by one of its own reporters, I find it all the more disturbing when members of the 4th estate begin to sound like the Administration officials they are choosing to expose:

"There is really no way to have a full discussion of the back story without talking about when and how we knew what we knew, and we can't do that."

Thank you, Mr. Keller. Aren't you the same Bill Keller who sat on the Judy Miller/Chalabi Pas de Deux while she pimped the war? Yeah, I thought so.

Byron Calame, the New York Times' Public Editor, who rightly took his editors to task for the paper's stonewalling put 28 questions to his editor(s). I'll offer up one more: Does Karl Rove have pictures of you with either a live boy or a dead girl?

For sale: One partially-used subscription to TimesSelect. Cheap, in fact, its yours for the asking.

(Posted by Portia)

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Lions and tigers and a she-moose, Oh My!

And the great beasts came down from the mountains and crossed the seas and descended upon the cities — the hind and her fawn, leaping fences in the southeast Bronx; the black bear, stout but fleet of foot, stealing through the streets of Newark; the seals of the harbor sunning themselves by the score upon the hospital ruins of Staten Island. And the coyote prowled the West Side and took up quarters in Central Park. And the dolphin beached itself on the Turuks' sandy yard in Throgs Neck. And the she-moose, 21 hands high, strayed within 30 miles of the city gates. And the wise men stroked their beards and scratched their heads, and they finally declared, "This is not normal."

I'll say. There's a reason that some of us folks choose to live in the city, and it ain't to be closer to nature. Sheesh. If I need face time with wild animals I'll go to the zoo, or better still, head to the nearest pub and cozy up to a Moosehead...on tap.

(posted by "that's goes for you too, Bullwinkle" Portia)

Monday, May 29, 2006


In the middle of Belleau Wood the light fades quickly as evening falls. To my right the dank undergrowth stretches away from ground broken by distorted whorllike shapes . The centers are depressed and dark, but the edges are raised and gray, like scar tissue knitting around an old wound. These are the collapsed remains of German rifle pits. Beside them, black and silent, stands a line of elderly artillery pieces, some German, some French.

To my left the woodland rises in a gentle, swiftly darkening slope. And all around are the slender larches, straight, well-spaced trees, many with trunks grooved by bullets, sliced by shrapnel. My attention becomes fixed, though, on the monument.

It is dominated by the muscular back of a man, shown in strong relief. Cast in a creamy bronze, the figure moves away from the viewer, from right to left. From what can be seen of the face comes an impression not of individual personality but of implacable will. He wears the kettle helmet of World War One. In his strong hands he holds an Enfield rifle with bayonet fixed.

As the shadows deepen, the dark polished stone that holds this bronze relief shades into the middle distance. Gradually the marine seems to come alive, as if he has just emerged unscathed from the rifle pits behind him and is pressing on, deeper into Belleau Wood.

On battlefields around the world stand monuments that are anodyne or peaceful or plain absurd; monuments that are wrapped in longing or regret; monuments that are patriotic, religious or triumphant; and some that are decaying and neglected, as if they marked a secret shame.

The marine who lives in Belleau Wood is unique. He is stripped to the waist, his naked flesh exposed to the maiming and violent death, a raw expression of the savagery of hand-to-hand fighting. He is looking to kill or be killed.

Over the years I have visited more than fifty places where Americans have fought their country's wars: Wake Island in the shimmering heat...Shiloh in the summer rain...the Shuri line when the earth was still lumpy with unexploded ordnance...Omaha Beach...San Jacinto...Inchon...the Little Bighorn...the steep forest of the Argonne...Gettysburg...New Orleans...Guam...Put-in-Bay...Lexington Green... All different, all the same.

Different because each battlefield tells its own story. The same because at all of them the visitor feels the claim thay make on us, those men of the monuments. In Belleau Wood as evening darkened the ground where I stood while the sky overhead shone a bright silver and pearl-shaded blues, the breeze down the Valley of the Marne rustled the treetops. "Rappelez-vous... rappeleez-vous," the leaves seemed to murmer. "Remember...remember...."

-Geoffrey Perret, Introduction to "A Country Made By War," 1989.

Your sacrafice yesterday permits my gratitude today.
Thank you, you men of monuments.
I will not forget you.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Under Construction

I don't wish to detract from HH's extremely interesting dialogue concerning the the NYT, the NSA , or Bush (stay with me here....) and I mean that sincerely because I think the exchange here has been fabulous, and I will do my part to make sure it continues. But....

Butt [sic] as a guest blogger, and one who had a hand in crafting the questions to Sunday's poll, I am mindful of its results--as well as Pile On's needs--so I thought it would be benefecial to offer up results while I gather my thoughts, and craft my arguments in response to spd' s and Don's stinging "Truth and Consequences" retorts below.

Lest HH's current Management rap my knuckles (again) because it thinks I am pandering to its readership, or worse, its claim that Portia is delaying her "yet to be framed constitutional arguments," I say you're right. She is. I am. We are.

Heh. Therein lies the beauty of Amerika, folks, and all its, um, cheekiness. [Rim shot] Thankfully, we live in a country where Portia doesn't have to hesitate to publish four-color secrets about which the world should know, and which a handful may claim rise to the level of classified information, or worse, reveal National Pastime secrets (after baseball, of course.)

Is anybody listening to a freakin' word I'm saying????

Just as I expected:)

Note to Management: I promise to connect the dots between asses, freedom of speech, and iPods. Well...I promise to connect at least two our of the three. Stay tuned.

Now, where were we?

Truth and Consequences

As my doppelgänger here at Heigh-ho, Portia is given great latitude to bust my chops and she makes the most of it. In a fiery comment appearing in the post below, Portia takes me to task for apparently wanting to "gag" the press by entertaining the thought that the Times might well be prosecuted for its publication of state secrets damaging to national security. As always, she makes a great argument. And, as always, I keep coming back for more. So rather than just dump my reply in the comments section, I figured I'd put it up here to really tick her off.
Here goes!

Dear Portia,

Although I appreciate your ardor in preserving the freedom of the press, I will disagree with you that the Pentagon Papers case stands for the proposition that the press cannot be prosecuted for disseminating information harmful to the security of the nation. In that case, the administration sought to enjoin the Times from publishing the classified materials after the newspaper refused repeated requests to cease publication from the adminsitration. The Second Circuit COA granted the injunction. The Washington Post began publishing them, and the administration again asked the paper to cease doing so, and after it was refused sought another injunction. This time the D.C. Circuit C.O.A. refused, and the Supreme Court took the case on the fastest track ever seen.

New York Times Co. v. United States was far from a great victory for a "free press" immune from the law. The High Court 6-3 decision produced nine separate opinions that run the constitutional gamut, but its holding was simple: The U.S. failed to carry its burden to show that the danger to national security caused by the reporting of past incidents was sufficient to warrant the prior restraint of speech. That's a pretty far cry from what we've got here.
As Justice White (one of the two "swing votes" in this case) wrote:

I concur in today's judgments, but only because of the concededly extraordinary protection against prior restraints [p731] enjoyed by the press under our constitutional system. I do not say that in no circumstances would the First Amendment permit an injunction against publishing information about government plans or operations. [n1] Nor, after examining the materials the Government characterizes as the most sensitive and destructive, can I deny that revelation of these documents will do substantial damage to public interests. Indeed, I am confident that their disclosure will have that result. But I nevertheless agree that the United States has not satisfied the very heavy burden that it must meet to warrant an injunction against publication in these cases, at least in the absence of express and appropriately limited congressional authorization for prior restraints in circumstances such as these. [p732]

When the Espionage Act was under consideration in [p734] 1917, Congress eliminated from the bill a provision that would have given the President broad powers in time of war to proscribe, under threat of criminal penalty, the publication of various categories of information related to the national defense. [n3] Congress at that time was unwilling to clothe the President with such far-reaching powers to monitor the press, and those opposed to this part of the legislation assumed that a necessary concomitant of such power was the power to "filter out the news to the people through some man." 55 Cong.Rec. 2008 (remarks of Sen. Ashurst). However, these same members of Congress appeared to have little doubt that newspapers would be subject to criminal prosecution if they insisted on publishing information of the type Congress had itself determined should not be revealed. Senator Ashurst, for example, was quite sure that the editor of such a newspaper

should be punished if he did publish information as to the movements of the fleet, the troops, the aircraft, the location of powder factories, the location of defense works, and all that sort of thing.
Id. at 2009. [n4] [p735]
The Criminal Code contains numerous provisions potentially relevant to these cases. Section 797 [n5] makes it a crime to publish certain photographs or drawings of military installations. Section 798, [n6] also in precise language, proscribes knowing and willful publication of any classified information concerning the cryptographic systems [p736] or communication intelligence activities of the United States, as well as any information obtained from communication intelligence operations. [n7] If any of the material here at issue is of this nature, the newspapers are presumably now on full notice of the position of the United States, and must face the consequences if they [p737] publish. I would have no difficulty in sustaining convictions under these sections on facts that would not justify the intervention of equity and the imposition of a prior restraint.

There is no issue of prior restraint present in the instant matter. The information on the admistration's warrantless surveilance program is already out in the world. What damage, if any, the publication of information has done to our national security I can only guess at.

However, there is still a lingering question as to whether the Times broke the law in publishing that material. The Times may hold themselves out as being above the law, but that has yet to be determined by any court. Perhaps it will be, soon. That's how we do things around here.

Your pal,


P.S. I haven't been able to locate any pictures of naked women worthy of Heigh-ho yet, but I'll continue to search.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Calling the Kettle Black

The New York Times is the newspaper that brought both Jayson Blair and Judy Miller into the public eye in recent times. Therefore it comes as no suprise that the Times doesn't mind playing the "victim" card whenever it has to defend its actions. But I've never actually found the paper to be stupid. Liberal? Yes. Pretentious? Yes. Stupid. No. That's is, at least until today.

In an editorial this morning entitled "A Sudden Taste for the Law," the Times editorial staff weakly attempts to deflect the heat eminating from the Justice Department regarding the paper's recent revelation of classified information.

It's hard to say which was more bizarre about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's threat to prosecute The Times for revealing President Bush's domestic spying program [sic]: his claim that a century-old espionage law could be used to muzzle the press or his assertion that the administration cares about enforcing laws the way Congress intended.
In order to answer the Times' question as to "which was more bizarre," we'll need to examine each prong of this question indivdually. Prong One: "his claim that a century-old espionage law could be used to muzzle the press." (Translation: "We're not saying we didn't do anything wrong, we're saying that you can't touch us even if we did -nyah, nyah, nyah.")

But a quick look at The Times own story reveals that Gozalales claimed nothing of the sort.

Asked whether he was open to the possibility that The New York Times should be prosecuted for its disclosures in December concerning a National Security Agency surveillance program, Mr. Gonzales said his department was trying to determine the appropriate course of action in that particular case." "I'm not going to talk about it specifically," he said. "We have an obligation to enforce the law and to prosecute those who engage in criminal activity."
Does that sound like Gonzales was issuing a "threat to prosecute the Times," as the paper claims? Reads to me like a polite refusal to discuss the matter further vis a vis the Times or any other paper. If the Times broke the law, then the law will be enforced against the Times. Pretty straight forward, and hardly a "threat." But what law might the Time have broken? Here again is the editorial's version:

Mr. Gonzales seemed to be talking about a law that dates to World War I and bans, in some circumstances, the unauthorized possession and publication of information related to national defense. It has long been understood that this overly broad and little used law applies to government officials who swear to protect such secrets, and not to journalists.
Oh, I get it. If the law is older than I am and not enforced very often, then it isn't really a law. And even if it was a law, it doesn't apply to me, because that's the way its been "long understood." Although the Times apparently cannot bring itself to name the law that they might have broken either in its story or its editorial, that staunchly conservative broadsheet, The Washington Post, confirms the law has the word "espionage" in the title: "He was referring to the 1917 Espionage Act, which made it a crime for an unauthorized person to receive national defense information and transmit it to others." Uh oh. That doesn't sound good, Grey Lady. You received classified information, and you transmitted it to others. What do you have to say for yourself?

Those laws are the basis of a pending case against two lobbyists, but they have never been used to prosecute journalists.
Yeah, and Cardinal O'Connor has never been prosecuted for bigamy, either. But that doesn't mean that that law, as little used as it might be, wouldn't apply to him. And by the way "lobbyists" are not "government officials" so it would appear the application of the law is a bit broader than you would have us believe. What else you got?

Some legal scholars say that even if the plain language of the laws could be read to reach journalists, the laws were never intended to apply to the press. In any event, these scholars say, prosecuting reporters under the laws might violate the First Amendment.
Yeah, but even the First amendment permits "time, place and manner" restrictions to be placed on non-political speech. You're not claiming that revealing state secrets is "political speech," are you? And what did the Attorney General say about this? WAPO?

Yesterday, Gonzales said, "I understand very much the role that the press plays in our society, the protection under the First Amendment we want to promote and respect . . . but it can't be the case that that right trumps over the right that Americans would like to see, the ability of the federal government to go after criminal activity."
Sounds reasonable enough to me. Of course, a jury might think otherwise. But that's how we do things around here. In any event, the Attorney General's remarks were certainly not "bizarre" by any known definition of that word.

Normally, the inquiry should stop here, because the Attorney General's alleged "threats" to "prosecute the Times" and thus "muzzle the press" appear to be false. Thus "bizarre" never comes into the picture, much less "more bizarre." But in the interest of justice, let's move on to Prong Two of the Times' editorial: "his assertion that the administration cares about enforcing laws the way Congress intended."

Well? Even if that statement was true (and that is a f**king BIG "IF") so what? Here's how the Times segues from Prong One to Prong Two:

But in any case, Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Bush have not shown the slightest interest in upholding constitutional principles or following legislative guidelines that they do not find ideologically or politically expedient.
Ohhhhhhhhhh, I get it now! Because (in the Times' view) the administration doesn't care about enforcing the law as Congress intended, then the law should not be enforced against the Times. But what does the administration's attitude about enforcing laws the way Congress intended"have to do with whether the Times could be prosecuted for publishing state secrets under a validly enacted statute? Answer: zero.

This is a classic application of ad hominem tu quoque, or the "you too " fallacy. Pioneered by famed sophist Pee Wee Herman ("I know you are but what am I?"), the fallacy exisits where one defends himself by arguing that the other party does it too. Once criticized by the kettle, the pot calls the kettle black, and makes the kettle defend itself, when it is really the pot that is the object of the scrutiny.

The Times' defense is so plainly pathetic that I'm now thinking that the paper suspects that it might just have really done it this time, and that the ongoing legal expense is going to finally tick off the investors, and which raises a whole host of interesting questiions, none of which you'll ever encounter here.

In any event, if you are the Attorney General, this particular business has all the earmarks of a criminal case worth pursuing. If the government has no case, well then, by God, go home. If the government does have a plausible case against the Times for a violation of the Espionage Act, then let's get it on.

But if you are the Times....well... we all know what happened to Pee Wee, don't we?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monkey Say

I'm busy as hell these days, and even I wasn't, it'd be hard for me to top Portia's "Anti-Cilantro Resistance" post (below), which is no doubt a metaphor for her patently xenophobic stance on immigration reform.

But I digress.

What we have here at Heigh-ho today is a bunch of talking monkeys (that's right: two monkey posts in a single week! Where else are you going to get that kind of primate coverage?) Science now informs us that at least some of these monkeys can "talk" to their fellow monkeys and pass on vital survival information so that the stupid don't get eaten by eagles. Here is a story about monkeys that can speak words. Words, mind you, that only monkeys just like them can understand, but words nevertheless.

No, by "monkeys" I do not mean my readers. I mean the kind of monkeys that appear in The New York Times in places other than the editorial page, and perhaps even read the editorial page when they aren't speaking in strange tongues or picking lice off eachother. And how dare you insinuate that I'm referring to the the "angry left" either. I'm talking about real monkeys! Real talking monkeys. The kind that scratch their not-so private parts and go "ebba ebba ebba" before flinging feces at you. Those generic monkeys.*

Not to sound naive, but how could scientists tell whether "ebba ebba ebba" meant Curious George was shrieking "Holy shit! The Man in the Yellow Hat is gonna be P-I-S-S-E-D about me accidentally knocking out the power grid between Philadelphia and Boston with my stupid ballon ride" or "Hey look! I've got bugs on my ass!"

I'll leave that to you dear readers.

*Bite me camojack. Gorillas, monkeys, chimps and Mickey Dolenz are all "monkeys" in the common human vernacular, unless, of course, it's King Kong; in which case we mere primates take appropriate notice of the exception and address it as "Sir. Flying monkeys, on the other hand, are the single scariest thing in the entire world.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Animal Crackers in My Soup

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark
All the sweet, green icing flowing down
Someone left the cake out in the rain....

Wish I was a Kellogg's Cornflake
Floatin' in my bowl takin' movies,

I need a little sugar in my bowl,
I need a little hot dog, on my roll

Cheeseburgers in paradise.
Heaven on earth with an onion slice

I don’t want french fried potatoes
Red ripe tomatoes
I'm never satisfied
I want the frim fram sauce .....

Peel me a grape, crush me some ice
Skin me a peach, save the fuzz for my pillow

Ever think about how many songs mention food? Tons and tons. But here's something you probably never realized, nor even spent much time thinking about: Not one of the gazillion songs about food mentions cilantro. Nada, niente, nyet, zip, zero, zilch. Not even Simon & Garfunkle's wistful ode to my spice shelf dared mention it.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine.

And that's just fine with me. Why? Because I. Hate. Cilantro. Not just a little. A lot. A lot, a lot. How much? Enough to push away my dinner plate at the slightest sting of it on my salivating tongue. Enough to order Green Eggs and Ham rather then a parfait glass of untested cerviche. Enough to make me...well you get the picture. Some people turn their noses up at at the mention of sweetbreads, or Rocky Mountain Oysters and that's more than understandable given their original purpose before they landed on your plate. Not me. I've dined on brains and balls in my culinary travels and I'd gladly take both served over easy (with extra hot sauce for the "oysters") than have have one spoonful of a dish laced with cilantro touch my ruby lips.

I know you're thinking: Whassup with that? I realize that for most people, cilantro is a seemingly harmless, little green plant mentioned as a footnote in old Mexican and Chinese recipes. Replace it with parsley and no one will be the wiser, not even your great aunt from Guadalajara. People will tell you it's not like garlic that will seep through your skin 24 hours after eating it and noxiously inflitrate another's personal space like a bad dime-store cologne. It won't set your mouth on fire like a serrano pepper. Nor will it kill you like Fugu, Japan's lethal and oh so expensive (in more ways than one) delicacy.

So for years, and while cilantro remained below the radar screen of haute cuisine, I kept quiet about my loathing thinking it was some weird tastebud gene thingy or some repressed childhood trauma with a cilantro bush. I lived happily in my cilantro-free castle while my significant other, who is the best cook a girl could lasso, avoided the odious cuttings, preferring instead to sprinkle everything--including grapefruit--with healthy amounts of basil leaves from his native Italy, topped with Italian parsley for some extra color. Every once and a while when I came face-to-face with the hideous herb, I surreptiously would pick out the toxic leaves that garnished my gazapcho more for decoration than flavor, and carry on. Close friends in whom I confided knowingly avoided cooking with the dreaded cuttings when inviting me for dinner lest they hear another of my rants; even our dogs knew enough to steer clear when some unsuspecting acquaintance dared to mention the "C" word.

But something happened in the past 5 years or so. Cilantro has become the darling of trendy restaurants. It has become the "it" spice of the aughts. I'd happily blame it on the ginormous number of Mexican illegals piercing our borders but I've been to Mexico enough times to appreciate that even Mexicans don't pledge allegiance to cilantro. No, this was clearly a conspiracy by American chefs to make everything from pizza to sushi taste like doll hair, and it's enough to make this die-hard foodie cry. Meal after meal, I kept wondering: How did I veer so off course? How did I find myself sitting on the sidelines in the great banquet of life? And the most gnawing introspection of all: Was I the only one out of step?

So you can imagine my surprise and delight when a friend sent me this link about a grassroots organization whose sole mission is to ban cilantro and save the world from this scourge.

Who knew? Pickets, rallys, testimonials, even a pie chart of what people think it tastes like, e.g., soap, doll hair, dandelions, or my favorite, burnt rubber. Holy Bat Herb. Never mind, wiretapping, or rendidtion. Stop the proliferation of cilantro now, Hillary. Hallelujah! This is a cause I can get behind. This is right up there with learning that somebody gave Bush a blowjob in the Oval Office. So I say, let's get this party started.

Yes, I accept the fact that this may still be a weird Portia gene thingy or one of her leftover repressed boogeymen, but at least now I know I'm not alone. Now I can stand tall with my dsyfunction. Now I can look my waitperson in the eye and say I don't do cilantro. Suddenly, the world seems a leaf or two less hostile.

My name is Portia, and I'm a cilantro hater.


This has been a Public Service Announcement courtesy of a Heigh Ho guest blogger, and does not reflect the opinion of management. The map provided here is for illustrative purposes only, and is not intended to draw any nexus between the growth of cilanto and Bush's failing popularity. If you believe your rights have been violated, please contact your local IHC representative for further information. Help and support is only a phone call away. You need not suffer alone anymore.

Whether or not you are a cilantro hater, please make sure you cast your vote in the post below, and let management know that that you want Heigh Ho to keep its doors open so it can continue to bring you important messages like this.

(Posted by Portia, cilantro-hater and proud of it.)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

C'mon people, time's a wastin'

Should mr. rdr blow up Heigh Ho?
Yes, it's about time
No way. Stop with the drama
Still thinking, ask me again next week
Yes, but leave the pictures
No, but add more pictures of naked women
I don't think you really want to know
Free polls from

Update: Yesterday's 2 PM deadline has come, and gone. HH's loyal commenters hope to continue their less than good-faith collective bargaining efforts soon once we locate management. In the meantime, the polls will remain open until the issue is resolved, every hanging chad is counted or management turns out the lights, which ever happens last.

(Posted by Portia, who will tally the votes independently and without benefit of bribes or performance enhancing drugs, unless, of course, one or both are required.)

Friday, May 19, 2006


It'll be one year tomorrow since I last blew up Heigh-ho. Since then, exactly 366 posts have made their way onto my permanent record. (So much for brevity.)

I'm thinking fireworks, only less exciting and completely unnoticed.

Even better. I once partook in a ritual in rural Mexico -( many many moons ago, for those who are counting)- whereby following much ceremony the faithful circled a bonfire and passed a rope between them. As each person publically confessed some personal trangression occuring during the past year, the confessor would tie a knot in the rope, signifying that sin. Finally, the whole penitent bunch of us threw our confessions into the fire and proceeded to get loaded on cheap tequila. Note: I did not inhale.

Well, I can't describe the advantage of being one of two English speaking persons at this event - particularly as the other English speaking person could no longer speak English, thanks to not not inhaling. As I remember, I managed to cover about everything - up to and including that nasty business pertaining to ritual hammock abuse and ...

Hey, we'll just stop there.

Upon such reflection, I'm inclined to make such personal cleansing an annual event. (Or to make such annual cleansing a personal event. Think of it as an annual semi-intellectual enema. One quick flush and ... no evidence.

You've got exactly 24 hours to decide whether I blow Heigh-ho off the map or leave it as evidence for future custody battles. Either way, I'll be back.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Live Blogging - The Book Edition

I thank you all for so many wonderful suggestions as to what I might find interesting as my next pleasure-reading project. As it turns out, I've located an unread tome on the bookshelf that will nicely fill my needs. Doris Kearns Goodwin's "Team of Rivals: The political Genius of Abraham Lincoln." How this gem found its way into my library I haven't a clue (probably a birthday present). Nevertheless, this surprise provides me with an unprecedented opportunity to bore you to death while I attempt to read such a moving, and important history within your own lifespan.

According to my expert's review of the matter (in other words, he examined the little number on the bottom of the last page) this mother is about 754 pages long (not counting acknowledgements and citations). By my learned calculations, such stout and learned heft should supply me with sufficient inane material to last the next 18 months.

So be it, then.

Somebody's go to do it.

"What do I win" asks Portia in the comments below.

You lose.
Believe it.

How I Became A Creationist

Did you ever read something in the newspaper that you really wish you hadn't? Did you ever start a reading a story with wide-eyed anticipation and wind up instead with a sort of a "I really didn't need to know that" feeling? I'm not talking about the latest leak from the intelligence [sic] community, kiddies, I'm talking about Science. Permit me to share with you.

In today's edition of The New York Times there appears an article entitled "Two Splits Between Human and Chimp Lines Suggested." "Hmmmm," I hmmmmed to myself, "this looks interesting." And then it hit me in paragraph two:

A new comparison of the human and chimp genomes suggests that after the two lineages separated, they may have begun interbreeding.

Let that sink in for a moment. By examining DNA, scientists now believe that great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great Grandpa rdr liked to do the horizontal bop with monkeys! Hoo-boy...this is going to be hard to explain to the kids. "You want to know why Aunt Gladys has a hairy back? Well, a long, long, long time ago....."

I'm not the only one disconcerted with this news. The scientists themselves are a bit squeemish about the prospect that their ancestors took banana-peelers to the prom.

If the earliest hominids are bipedal, it's hard to think of them interbreeding with the knuckle-walking chimps — it's not what we had in mind," said Daniel E. Lieberman, a biological anthropologist at Harvard.
Me neither, Doc.

But wait, the story gets even grosser! Even though it has been scientifically proven that all men are pigs, it turns out that it wasn't Grandpa who wandered off the hominid plantation for a walk on the wild side.

Hybrid populations often go extinct because the males are sterile, Dr. Reich pointed out, so hybrid females may have mated with male chimps to produce viable offspring.
Oh Grandmother! How could you! With a chimp? Hand me the barf bag.

Adam and Eve is so much easier. So much less icky. Wham bam! Here's the human race! Get busy multiplying, kids, and leave them monkeys be!

And that's how I became a creationist.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Book Talk

I need a new book to read, and I want your help deciding which one will become my companion for, oh, the next six months or so.

You see, I've just finished reading "1776" by David McCullough, which is a terrific book that I highly recommend. The problem is that it took me almost as long to read the book as it took George Washington to live through. This is because, despite my blog moniker, when it comes to pleasure reading I am slow as mollasses in heels.

I'm not a slow reader because I have to move my lips or anything, but rather because every night I fall asleep after having scanned approximately two sentences. I then drop the book to the floor and lose my place, and am thus required to re-read entire chapters just to figure out where the hell I was. It's pathetic really.

Anyway, now that G.W. is safely on his way to turning the tide of the Revolutionary War, I have excess capacity, so to speak. Anybody want to recommend a good book? Mind you, I don't care much for fiction (and, yes, I am that mysterious "other person" that hasn't read "The Da Vinci Code") preferring history and biographies. Any period.

Give it a shot, won't you? I promise I won't ridicule any suggestion except for those which are plainly asking for it.

I look forward to your comments.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Happy Birthday Blog Princess

Heywood Floyd: Can’t you think of anything else you want for your birthday? Something very special?

“Squirt” Floyd: Yes.

Heywood Floyd: What?

“Squirt” Floyd: A bushbaby.

-2001: A Space Odyssey

Bushbaby or no, many happy returns of the day, Cassandra.
Thanks for bringing so much to our table daily, friend.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Bless Us All, Here's Another Lawyer

Ladies and Gentlemen :

mrs. rdr and I am pleased and proud to announce the birth of our eldest daughter, one m.j. o'rdr, esq. as a new member of the legal community.

We are so proud of her.

May she do good things, always.

Three cheers, baby. Well done.

A Mother's Lullaby

I wish you bluebirds in the spring
To give your heart a song to sing
And then a kiss, but more than this
I wish you love
And in July a lemonade
To cool you in some leafy glade
I wish you health
And more than wealth
I wish you love

Happy Mother's Day.
Miss you. Still

(Posted by Portia)

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Through the Looking Glass

Oh my. I read today that the Justice Department dropped its investigation into the NSA's domestic surveillance program because a NSA lawyer says that Justice Department lawyers don't have the necessary clearances to do an investigation.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Not so fast. Back up, and re-read that sentence. And then read it, again.

Translation: A secret government agency has told OUR Justice Department that it's not allowed to investigate it.

My bad. I need to stop analyzing utilization charts and start parsing Lewis Carroll so I can relish the irony of all this.

"I know what you're thinking about," said Tweedledum: "But it isn't so, no-how."

"Contrariwise," continued Tweedledum, "if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic."

Lewis Carroll, "Through the Looking Glass"

My advice: "Go ask Alice, I think she'll know...."
Better yet, go ask Qwest.

(Disclaimer: Posted by Portia...sans mushrooms)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Out of Nowhere

J. Michael Luttig Resigns From Appeals Court

May 10, 2006; 1:15 PM
Appeals court Judge J. Michael Luttig, a leading conservative jurist and a short-list Bush administration candidate for the Supreme Court, announced today that he is resigning from the bench to serve as senior vice president and general counsel of the Boeing Co.
Luttig, who sits on the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, wrote the most important appellate decision yet in support of the Bush administration's powers to detain individuals without recourse to ordinary legal protections. But he had a significant falling-out with the Justice Department late last year when he protested, in a follow-up opinion, what he suggested was the administration's inappropriate manipulation of the legal system in order to avoid a further Supreme Court test of the president's wartime authority.

Luttig is a good man and a fair jurist. The 4th Circuit is going to miss him.

Mama Told Me There'd Be Days Like This

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My Girlfriend's Back And You're Gonna Be Sorry

I just knew that if I left her link up on the sidebar long enough that she'd return.

Home girl "One L Michele" is back at "A Small Victory" and is serving up heaping plates of tasty stuff about cars, music, and whatever suits her. And everything's right with the world again.

Go get yourself some.

And welcome back, girlfriend.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Persistence of Memory

BOSTON (AP) -- Lillian Gertrud Asplund was just 5 years old when she and her family boarded the Titanic in Southampton, England, on their way back to Massachusetts.

That night in 1912, she lost her father and three brothers - including a fraternal twin - when the "practically unsinkable" ship went down in the Atlantic after hitting an iceberg.

Asplund, 99, the last survivor of the Titanic who remembered its sinking, died Saturday at her home in Shrewsbury, said Ronald E. Johnson, vice president of the Nordgren Memorial Chapel in Worcester, Mass.


Memory and forgetfulness are as life and death to one another. To live is to remember and to remember is to live. To die is to forget and to forget is to die. Everything is so much involved in and is so much a process of its opposite that, as it is almost fair to call death a process of life and life a process of death, so it is to call memory a process of forgetting and forgetting a process of remembering. There is never either absolute memory or absolute forgetfulness, absolute life or absolute death. So with light and darkness, heat and cold, you never get either all the light or all the heat out of anything. So with God and the devil; so with everything. Everything is like a door swinging backwards and forwards. Everything has a little of that from which it is most remote and to which it is most opposed and these antitheses serve to explain one another.

-Samuel Butler


Rest in peace, little girl.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Death and Taxes

VIBRATORS, whips and G-strings – who'd have thought tax could be so exciting?


I'm filing an amended return.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Just Desserts, Jeeves. Thank You.

As Edmund Burke once wrote: "A long exercise of the mental powers induces a remarkable lassitude of the whole body. "

You ain't kidding either, brother. But nowadays we call it "Happy Hour."

But while I've been busy unlanguishing in hopes of creating such lassitude, (and waiting for Portia to cook up something else interesting to keep the lights on around here), others have been busy busy busy, and just for the hell of it, too.

Fellow Scrappleface progeny and Blog Princess Cassandra (pictured at left) has totally kicked ass had one of her many daily insights awarded as the post of the week by Watcher of Weasels (where they come up with these names, I'll never know). Take a look at her competition, peoples, and tell me this gal ain't got it.

All kidding aside, congratulations, Cass, on once again stealing all of the traffic, awards, and advertising revenue that would be languished* upon Heigh-ho except for the fact that you exist and write tentimes5o times a million times a whole bunch better than I do, and you mostly get your grammer/spelling thingy going a lot more better.

Good for you, girl.

*Two Blogger points for the use of "languish" in the same post without inducing snores; extra points for making readers look up word only to blast you for totally, totally, misconstruing the verb. Hey. You read the small print. I'm a lawyer. Fuggetabouit.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Curse This

As loyal Heigh-Ho readers know well, mr. rdr is a die-hard Red Sox fan, and Portia is loyal to the Evil ones who play in the Bronx. We have lots of fun ridiculing each other's teams, taking aim at current standings and best of all, throwing salt on once shining moments [read: Bucky "eff'n" Dent.] We've been following our respective teams for decades no matter where we lived, and have been more than willing to do our part to continue the ages-old rivalry between the RSN and the Bronx Bombers. Other teams may best one of us at the end of a season, and it'll hurt, maybe even hurt bad like when we lost to the Diamondbacks in 2001, but come Spring Training the slate is more or less wiped clean and we go back to worrying about the Red Sox bull pen, or Yankees line up than what's up with the team that whipped our asses in last year's match-ups.

Which is why I find it my reaction to the fact that Johnny Damon was nothing more than a "Yankee-in-waiting" all the more curious. I mean the guy played for the Red Sox! He was responsible for the grand slam in the 7th game of the 2004 series that sent the Yanks packing, and now he plays for the Evil Empire? Oh, sweet Mother of God, how rich is that? That's like hearing that R.H. Macy crossed the street to go work for Gimbel's. Doesn't get much better than that, huh? Bound to make a Yankee fan grin from ear to ear, right? Well maybe for some, but not for this Yankee fan. I think it stinks.

Sure, "landing" Damon served its purpose last year by allowing us to "stick it" to the Red Sox-- neener, neener, neener-- but in the long run--and in our cold, cynical New York hearts--most of us think it was a pretty slimy thing to do. Most of us are still scratching our heads wondering how a Red Sox becomes a Yankee. Because we know that the short, simple answer is you can't. We couldn't. Ruth tried and it took 80 plus years to unwind that mess. Clemens too, but at least he stopped in Toronto on his way to New York. Besides he's fat, and ornery.

So when Damon signed on with the Yankees last year, he did something that no Red Sox fan or Yankee fan could ever imagine doing: he left Macy's and and went to work for Gimbels. He could have signed on with any other AL or NL team, and not delivered anywhere near the blow* he did with that trade. His decision to switch camps laid bare the ugly truth that despite what may flow in our veins, and our hearts, baseball nowadays is just a Monopoly game with owners/players trading bats on Yawkey Way. All that RSN chauvinism, all that cowboy up!, all that "there's no way I can go play for the Yankees" went poof with the stroke of a pen, and a paycheck. He chose the dollars over the dugout. He sold out. We now know the answer to the question "what would Johnny Damon do?"

Yes, we understand that baseball is just a "game" blah, blah, blah but the rivalry between Red Sox and Yankees has always been much more than that. It's about good vs. evil. It's about being born a Red Sox or Yankee fan, and rooting for the same team as your father or grandfather did. It's about waking up in the morning and knowing which team you hate before you look at the box scores just as sure as you know the sun will rise tomorrow.

After Monday night's game when fans were booing Damon and throwing fake dollars at him, he glibly said "I felt like I had to salute the fans because they were always great to me here and I know now they're just booing the uniform," Wrong Johnny. They were booing the uniform, and you.

So when you play the Red Sox in New York next week Mr. Damon, stop with the "I'm so honored to wear the Pinstripes" schtick. A year ago you were honored to play for the Red Sox. We know it wasn't true then, and we know it's not true now. Mostly, we know that just wearing Pinstripes doesn't make you a Yankee, and tipping your cap to Red Sox fans doesn't make you a Ted Williams. Just shut up and play the game. Oh, sure, we'll cheer you when you're up at bat, or catch a fly ball in center field--heck, we do want to win--but don't ask us to love you along the way, and don't expect any slack when your arm gets tired. We'll trade you in a New York minute.

There's another word that we like to use in Brooklyn. It's Mensch, and in my book, Damon is no mensch.
*Pedro left for the Mets, and I bet that hurt too, but everybody knows the Mets ain't the Yankees.

(posted by Portia)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Baseball Season Officially Open

Hello Johnny,
Yes hello Johnny,
It's so nice to see you going

I see the fans yelling,
Red Sox pride swelling,
cause they know the big man's 'bout to swing and
slam the door

I feel the stands swaying
hear that tune playing
Oh yes I love that Dirty Water
our vic'try song!

So, get a clue, Johnny,
we never gonna forgive you, Johnny

Red Sox Nation's out to win,
Grab that Big Ring once again,
Johnny you'll never know the thrill