I love a story like this

How hip-hop saved the cognac industry. See? There’s hope…

Rappers’ adoption of cognac, the storied French spirit, as their preferred party booze has been a godsend for Louvet and her fellow farmers.

Five years ago, the region surrounding the small town of Cognac in southwestern France was on the brink of ruin. An economic crisis had sent consumption of the brown liquor plummeting in Asia, its No. 1 market.

In 1998, furious grape growers blockaded the town for four days after cognac makers slashed grape orders.

These days, the cognac industry is thriving – thanks to America, not Asia. Exports of cognac to the United States have nearly tripled over the past 10 years, and last year Americans spent an estimated $1 billion on Napoleon’s nightcap.

Behind this trend are the likes of Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Snoop Dogg and other rappers who have embraced the pricey brandy with the 300-year history as a status symbol. That has spawned a cult cognac following among young urban black people, who mix the liquor in new cocktails with names like “Thug Passion” and “French Connection.”

Ya learn something new every day, huh?

Trying to keep my head up

in the face of news like this is almost more than I can do…

In 1992, Tonya Stewart left the Army after serving 13 years in uniform, believing her service to her country was over.

Now, 12 years later, she’s been recalled to active duty.

“I leave for an 18-month tour of duty in two weeks,” the 43-year-old Hellam Township resident said. “And that’s about all I really know.”

Stewart, visiting her sister’s family for Thanksgiving dinner along with her boyfriend and 9-year-old daughter, said she had received letters and phone calls from the military since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 warning her that she may be recalled.

“But to be honest, I never really thought they’d do it,” Stewart, who works for Susquehanna Communications, said with a laugh. “I’m a little too old to be running around diving in the sand.”

“I’ve been saying this for a while that a real draft is coming,” she said.

TBogg thinks this is their plan to preemptively evict the elderly from social security before they live long enough to qualify…

can’t take any more today

that’s it. I’m going to lunch.

Is it dark in here? Or is it just me?

Of all the revelations that have rocked the Israeli army over the past week, perhaps none disturbed the public so much as the video footage of soldiers forcing a Palestinian man to play his violin.

The incident was not as shocking as the recording of an Israeli officer pumping the body of a 13-year-old girl full of bullets and then saying he would have shot her even if she had been three years old.

Nor was it as nauseating as the pictures in an Israeli newspaper of ultra-orthodox soldiers mocking Palestinian corpses by impaling a man’s head on a pole and sticking a cigarette in his mouth.

Out of the Closet

And into the streets…

Win an election, then show your true colors…

The Fuhrer was G Gordon Liddy’s first political hero. Liddy was a sickly, asthmatic child when he grew up in Hoboken, New Jersey, in the 1930s. The town was full of ethnic Germans who idolized Hitler. Liddy was made to salute the Stars and Stripes Nazi-style by the nuns at his school; even now, he admits, “at assemblies where the national anthem is played, I must suppress the urge to snap out my right arm.” His beloved German nanny taught him that Hitler had – through sheer will-power – “dragged Germany from weakness to strength.”

This gave Liddy hope “for the first time in my life” that he too could overcome weakness. When he listened to Hitler on the radio, it “made me feel a strength inside I had never known before,” he explains. “Hitler’s sheer animal confidence and power of will [entranced me]. He sent an electric current through my body.” He describes seeing the Nazis’ doomed technological marvel the Hindenberg flying over New Jersey as an almost religious experience. “Ecstatic, I drank in its colossal power and felt myself grow. Fear evaporated and in its place came a sense of personal might and power.”

from Greg at The Talent Show, via eponymous.

Sucked in by a banner ad

I almost never click through those things, but I finally succumbed. This one said, simply, “Canada’s looking pretty good now, eh?”

No shit.

It clicked through to the Amazon page for this book:So, You Want To Be Canadian: All About The Most Fascinating People In The World And The Magical Place They Call Home.

Readers who bought this book also bought Immigrating to Canada and Finding Employment: A Do-It-Yourself Kit for Skilled Workers under the Latest Immigration Policy. A Step-by-Step Settlement & Job Search Guide – A 3 in 1 Publication, Revised Edition

Good tea, socialized medicine, hockey and education they do really well. Concise book titles, not so much…

Plame Case update in the WaPo

I should care more about this than I do. I still don’t understand why Robert Novak isn’t in jail. Maybe it’s because his high, thin voice adds some nice color on that last chorus of “Deutchland Über Alles.”

I mean, this article focuses primarily on the issues facing other reporters involved in the case and their reluctance to reveal their sources, which is something I have to support, even if one if them is Judith Miller (who still thinks she was “fucking right.”), but Robert Novak needs to be in court, perhaps in jail.

I mean, shouldn’t he?

Abrams, however, argues that reporters should have the right to protect sources no matter what kind of leak they publish.

“If Novak were before the court, too, there couldn’t be a different result for him,” Abrams said.

But Novak is not before the court, and a key question in the case is why he is not, because he presumably knows the identities of the original leakers.

Neither he nor Fitzgerald has been willing to say whether Novak has even been subpoenaed or, if so, whether he has cooperated.

We got a complaint

Here at the helpdesk, we sometimes get odd calls. We got one that the photo on the login page of for the webmail was “ugly.”

Here’s that photo:

But see, that guy? That’s Roland. He used to work here. We like him. They asked us to change the photo. So, um… we did….
[Read more…]

It just takes a second

And you could maybe save a life. From Norbizness who is doing his penance for being from Texas:

Another female death row prisoner scheduled for execution that our Republican governors can mock. Unlike Karla Faye Tucker, however, this one maintains her innocence, had a lawyer who did absolutely no lawyering in her case under the old, shitty indigent defense system, and has been tied to the murder only with outdated tests from a crime lab that’s a disaster area. Some highlights from the linked article (Newton is the prisoner, Mock was her criminal defense attorney):

•Newton said that, in the months leading up to the trial, Mock rarely spoke with her about her case. In a court hearing shortly before the trial, Mock said he had not filed any motions, spoken with any witnesses or submitted a list of possible witnesses to subpoena.

•Mock told her he had thoroughly investigated the physical and scientific evidence in the case, but later admitted he had not.

•Mock has been barred from accepting court-appointed capital cases since 2001, when state legislators enacted landmark reforms in the way indigent legal defense is handled in Texas.

•Court records show that tests also found traces of possible gunpowder on the dress Newton wore. But her attorneys say that may have been garden manure, which, like gunpowder, has nitrates and can trigger a false positive test result. Initial tests on Newton’s hands on the night of the crime found no evidence that she had fired a gun, court records show.

•Prosecutors have opposed requests for new testing on the dress, despite new technology that could differentiate between gunpowder and manure.

Those Texas pro-lifer republicans just LOVE killing folks. What’s up with that?

The [Good/Bad] Old Days

I was talking to one of the guys that I work with this morning and was reminded of something that happened when I was 20 and a starving musician. Now, understand that when I use the word “starving” that it’s a bit of an exaggeration, but only a BIT… I made a decision when I left college to be a musician that I wasn’t going to ask my family for help. Full Stop. So, there were some lean times, and eventually, when things got a little better for the band, I did take some help here and there from the fam, but this was still when I was in my principled and hungry stage, where I was eating once a day (if that) and living on coffee and cigarettes.

SO… the drummer for the Dashboard Saviors and I were sharing a room (not a house, a ROOM) on Meigs Street here in Athens, and he had a job at Wendy’s, so he was eating at least something each day, and bringing home the oddest stuff, like a stack of cheese slices or some buns. But that’s how we were eating, y’know, a little here, a little there…

I remember one morning, it was like 3 am, and I woke up to John kicking my bed and (happily) shouting “Wake up! Wake up!”

I sat up in bed, and he was standing there in the semi-dark with two big trashbags. “What, John, what?”

“I just left Dunkin Dounuts. They were going to throw these out!”

“John,” I said, “those are 35 gallon trash bags.”

“And,” he said, “they’re full of donuts!”

“I’ll make some coffee.”

Oh, that was a fine night. I still can’t look at anything with apple filling. It was so nice to finally be full, though.

The Kleptones

Just go find “Night at the Hip-Hopera.” The guys that brought you “Yoshimi Battles The Hip-Hop Robots” (a hip-hop mashup of Flaming Lips songs.) (Dude! Pass that bowl!) now bring you the positively mind-altering mashup of Queen songs and hip-hop. The mashup of “The Game” and “(I Want to Take You to a) Gay Bar” by the Electric Six is as brilliant as it is side-splitting. Additionally, who knew that “Bicycle” and “Slim Shady” would sound so good together?

Since it’s a mash-up of a hundred different copyrighted materials, you’re going to have to go off-the-radar to put your hands on it. I think it blows the Gray Album out of the water.

Thanks to e p o n y m o u s for the heads up on that one.