Saturday, January 08, 2005

On 70th Birthday, Elvis Still Hot

On 70th Birthday, Elvis Still Hot


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Would the pompadour be gray? Would arthritis have stilled the swiveling hips? Would the lip now curl above false teeth? If he were still alive, Elvis Presley would have turned 70 on Saturday.

But old age and the unfortunate problem of being deceased haven't slowed down the King.

``There's no age to him,'' said Jerry Engelby, one of 800 or so fans gathered on Graceland's front lawn for a cake cutting and ``Happy Birthday'' sing-along. ``He's just Elvis.''

For the faithful, with ``Good Rockin' Tonight'' blasting from a pair of speakers, Elvis was as hot (or as cool) as ever.

That he was born in 1935 and died in 1977 did little to tarnish the fans' memories of a rock 'n' roll rebel or bespangled superstar.

``In the movies we're watching, he's still just Elvis. The songs we're hearing, he's still just Elvis,'' said Engelby, 62, of Jefferson City, Mo., who wears pink and black to Graceland because Presley favored those colors early in his career.

That career, which began in 1954, is still strong, too, with Presley's run as a star lasting longer after death than in life. And now, at 70, Elvis may be on the cusp of a whole new phase in his career.

Elvis Presley Enterprises, the business arm of the estate, brought in $45 million last year, making Elvis one of the top earning dead entertainers in the world.

Since his death, the estate, including the rights to his name and image, have been solely owned by his only heir, daughter Lisa Marie Presley.

But now, Robert F.X. Sillerman, the founder of music and sports promoter SFX Entertainment, is in the process of buying 85 percent of the estate's assets. He plans to take the business public and look for new markets for Elvis ventures - perhaps shops, museums or other attractions elsewhere in the United States or abroad.

Lisa Marie Presley will keep title to Graceland itself and the house will generally remain unchanged.

While Graceland draws 600,000 visitors a year, thousands of them from other countries, the estate has focused most of its business in the United States.

``The demand for Elvis is already in place and strong in all kinds of places all over the world: Australia, Japan, Asia, Europe,'' said Jack Soden, Graceland's top executive. ``This gives us more resources to do more things, bigger things and to do them sooner.''

Many in the birthday crowd at Graceland were from abroad, including several hundred in a tour group from Great Britain.

Ester Blajer, 59, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, said she believes Presley would have turned more to gospel music had he not died young.

As a teenager, Blajer wrote to a celebrity magazine's pen pal page and began corresponding with other Elvis fans around the world.

``One pen pal, we have been writing for 42 years,'' Blajer said. ``I just spent Christmas and New Year with her in Madison, Wisconsin.''

After singing ``Happy Birthday,'' the fans packed in around an outdoor stage to cheer the cutting of a white and yellow birthday cake with Presley's image outlined in icing. Most also paid visits to Presley's grave in a small garden beside Graceland, many leaving flowers, teddy bears or other small tributes.

A birthday dance, featuring a band playing Elvis music, was scheduled Saturday night at a hotel near Graceland and The Official Elvis Presley Fan Club of Great Britain planned a brunch and disco party on Sunday.

Word that new owners are taking over Graceland's business affairs and will control how Presley is marketed has some fans apprehensive.

They want Elvis presented to the world the way they still remember him.

``That's good if it's done in a positive way, the way that Elvis would have wanted it,'' said fan Engelby. ``You have to always think of what would Elvis want. He would want us to love each other, bond together as a family and be kind and giving. We're Elvis family, not just fans.''

On the Net:

Elvis Presley Enterprises:

01/08/05 16:13

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Friday, January 07, 2005

Pity Party in the Making

I was listening to "The Dom Giordano Show" (1210, WPHT-AM, Philadelphia, PA), and I heard something that, in my opinion, is extremely absurd. Yes, it sounds like one of those "only in New Jersey" stories.

Apparently, the Buena Regional School District, located in Atlantic County, NJ, is considering having an episode of "The Simple Life" filmed at one of their schools. The school board will be holding a meeting this coming Tuesday night, January 11, beginning at 7:00 PM. I am sure that this will be hot topic on Jim Gearhart's morning show on New Jersey 101.5 FM (WKXW, Trenton, NJ) at some point next week.

The school board sent permission slips home with the students, discussing the situation. They set out to talk about things like decorum, potential topics of discussion, as well as lessons that the students that they may get out of this experience. I am sure that they said that it is all well-intended for the children.

Also, they are going to let both Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie teach a class at the Cleary Middle School. This is great (sic). What could they have to offer to these heads full of mush? Maybe I am better off not going there. Besides, it is like the boys will be paying attention anyway, if you catch my drift. It is bad enough that some of these schools look as if the inmates run the asylum, in the first place.

Here is the intention of the school board. They are hoping to use this as a way to show the national viewing public just how hard teachers have it. I am not undermining that teachers have the country club lifestyle, because A lot of them are very passionate at what they do. By doing this, they are hoping the residents living in this school district will vote for a new school referendum.

To me, this sounds nothing more than a pity party on behalf of the school board members. Besides receiving some money from the bigwigs of "The Simple Life", they want to exploit the students at the expense of their wish to get a new school. How could they stoop to this low? I guess that when it comes to getting their palms greased, they will do anything, just like being on "Fear Factor".

In closing, I hope that there is a huge stink made this coming Tuesday. Where do we draw the line? I hope that the residents not only reject the referendum, but also GRIP (Get Rid of Incumbent Politicians) the entire school board for being as asinine as Delaware Senator Joseph Biden (D) during the Alberto Gonzales confirmation hearings on January 6. I suppose that only time will tell. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 06, 2005



Fri Dec 24,12:02 AM ET

By Ann Coulter

Since the attack of 9/11, we've won two wars, liberated millions of people from monstrous regimes, presided over one election in Afghanistan (news - web sites) and are about to see elections in Iraq (news - web sites) and among the Palestinian people. Focusing like a laser beam on the big picture, liberals are upset that, during this period, the secretary of defense used an autopen.

An autopen is a mechanical arm that actually holds a pen and is programmed to sign letters with a particular person's precise signature. Imagine a President Al Gore (news - web sites), with slightly more personality, signing all official government letters -- that's an autopen. (You can relax now, there will be no more exercises imagining a President Al Gore.)

There are 300 million Americans who have a constitutional right -- an actual right, not a phony one invented by Harry Blackmun -- to write to government officials. Every government office you've ever heard of in Washington, D.C., uses autopens with abandon.

As president, Clinton sold burial plots in Arlington Cemetery and liberals shrugged it off. What really gets their goat is the autopen. Evidently, the important thing was that every one of those pardons Clinton sold for cash on his last day in office was signed by Bill Clinton (news - web sites) personally.

It occurred to someone (who obviously has the best interests of America at heart!) that among the letters Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sends out there must be condolence letters to the families of servicemen who died for their country. So liberals are in a lather that those letters were signed by autopen.

On the bright side, this is the first war America has been in where the number of casualties is small enough that it would even be theoretically possible for a Defense secretary to sign each condolence letter personally. When Democrats were running the Vietnam War, letters of condolence often began, "To whom it may concern" and were addressed to "occupant."

Most politicians were mum about Autopen-gate, inasmuch as they respond to letters from constituents with dying children in letters signed by autopen. Not Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record), D-Neb. He criticized Rumsfeld for the autopen, saying: "My goodness, that's the least that we could expect out of the secretary of defense, is having some personal attention paid by him."

It would save everyone a lot of trouble if The New York Times would just go ahead and put Hagel on the cover of the Sunday magazine with the headline: "COURAGE." Even now, Hagel can apparently count on no reporters dropping by his office to investigate whether he uses an autopen.

I've been so damn upset that Rumsfeld uses an autopen that I've barely had time to enjoy the "Giving Tree" season. Actually, I think it's time to come clean with my readers and admit that I belong to a small religious cult that celebrates the birth of Jesus this week. So things have been a little hectic.

And if the best liberals are going to give me to argue about this week is Autopen-gate, then: (1) I shall sleep well knowing that the secretary of defense has made so few mistakes for the past four years that liberals are reduced to carping about his autopen, and (2) I'm going to re-gift one of my interviews not published in the United States so I have time to buy more Ann Coulter action figures for Christmas, or as the Blue States call it, "December 25."

Interview by Carlos Baroni, Oriana d'America, Italy, October 2004

Q: Many liberals are rich, come from the East Coast, are white, studied at the Ivy university. You are rich (I hope), come from Connecticut, are white and studied at Cornell. Why do you hate the liberals?

A: Because I know so many of them. Liberals are clueless, amoral sexual degenerates, communists and pacifists -- no offense to you or your readers intended, of course.

Q: You said the USA's worst enemy are the liberals.

A: So what's the question? The enemy within is often far more damaging than the enemy outside. Does the name "Mussolini" -- great believer in extensive government direction of the economy, just like the Democrats -- ring a bell?

Q: Why do Europeans prefer liberals than conservatives?

A: Because you're all a bunch of atheists, humanists and moral relativists. Love the food, though! And don't get me started on the shoes you wonderful people make! They're to surrender for!

Q: Do Europeans love Kerry more or hate Bush more?

A: Hate Bush. No one loves John Kerry (news - web sites), including John Kerry. Europeans are wrong on policy, not clinically insane.

Q: Who will win the elections 2004?

A: That's for the Supreme Court to sort out, you ignorant foreigner.

Q: If Kerry should win, what will the changes in the USA be?

A: He's got this exciting new plan for Iraq I think you Italians may have heard of. It's called "unconditional surrender." Today, Christianity is legal and gay marriage is illegal. If Kerry wins, these will be reversed.

Q: And the world?

A: That will be up to the United Nations (news - web sites)

Q: Is it right, the Iraqi conflict?

A: No, it's wrong. The rabid savages who are fighting American troops should give up immediately.

Q: What's your opinion about the U.S. media? Are they actually free?

A: Pravda had certain shortcomings in Soviet days, but at least it was honest enough to admit being a Communist Party newspaper.

Q: Our American image comes from movies. But Hollywood isn't the real America ...

A: The real America is Hollywood, Fla.

Q: Does tolerant Islam exist or not?

A: If it does exist, it's keeping an extremely low profile.

Q: Is it possible to export democracy?

A: Yes. Ever heard of "Italy"?

Q: Who are the three best U.S. presidents of the century? And the three best in any time?

A: Century: Reagan, Coolidge, Harding. Ever: Washington, Reagan, Lincoln

Q: What is your opinion about the center-left leader in Europe? Zapatero, Blair, Schroeder?

A: Zapatero is Spanish for "Chamberlain." I would campaign for Blair for U.S. president. Schroeder -- what is the Italian word for "scumbag"?

Q: And about center-right? Berlusconi, Chirac?

A: Chirac is center-right? Better lay off the grappa, Primo. Berlusconi: LOVE him!!

Q: Your last book is called "How to Talk to a Liberal." With which words?

A: A baseball bat is best. But if you absolutely must use words, something like: "Grow up."



Ann Coulter




Wed Dec 8, 8:21 PM ET

By Ann Coulter

Still furious about the election, liberals are lashing out at blacks. First it was Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites). But calling a Ph.D. who advised a sitting president during war "Aunt Jemima" apparently hasn't satiated the Democrats' rage. Even the racist cartoons didn't help.

So this week, they've turned with a vengeance to Clarence Thomas (news - web sites). Only the Democrats would try to distract from their racist attacks on one black Republican by leveling racist attacks against a different black Republican. If Democrats don't nip this in the bud, soon former Klanner and Democratic Sen. Bob Byrd will be their spokesman.

In the past few weeks, there have been nasty insinuations all around about Condoleezza Rice's competence for the job.

Democratic consultant Bob Beckel -- who demonstrated his own competence running Walter Mondale's campaign -- said of Rice, "I don't think she's up to the job."

Joseph Cirincione, with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (so you know they don't have an agenda or anything), said Rice "doesn't bring much experience or knowledge of the world to this position." This was reassuring, inasmuch as that was also liberals' assessment of the current president before he took office and he, to put it mildly, has been doing rather well.

The Kansas City Star editorialized that Rice "has not demonstrated great competence in the last four years," which is to say, Dr. Rice failed to be sufficiently clairvoyant to predict the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

Columnist Bob Herbert sneered of Rice's nomination in The New York Times: "Competence has never been highly regarded by the fantasists of the George W. Bush administration." For example, these are the bumbling nitwits who conquered Afghanistan (news - web sites), the "graveyard of empires," and toppled Baghdad in less time than your average Jennifer Lopez marriage lasts. (Wait, I can't remember: Was it the Bush administration that hired Jayson Blair?)

So far Dr. Rice has demonstrated her abundant competence only in academia, geopolitics, history, government, college administration, classical music and athletics. I eagerly await the Bob Herbert column in which he lists the subjects and pursuits he's mastered. If only Rice talked about her accessorizing like Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (news - web sites), she might impress the sort of fellow who writes for The New York Times.

Liberals at least give white Republicans credit for being evil. Rumsfeld is a dangerous warmonger, Paul Wolfowitz is part of an international Jewish conspiracy, Dick Cheney (news - web sites) is "Dr. No." But Dr. Rice? She's a dummy.

In fact, after spending the last four years telling us that President Bush (news - web sites) was an empty suit, a vessel for neoconservative fantasies of perpetual war, liberals have now found someone who is Bush's puppet: the black chick.

It's all so eerily familiar.

The late Mary McGrory, a white liberal, called Scalia "a brilliant and compelling extremist" -- as opposed to McGrory herself, a garden-variety extremist of average intelligence. But Thomas she dismissed as "Scalia's puppet," quoting another white liberal, Alvin J. Bronstein of the American Civil Liberties Union (news - web sites), to make the point. This is the kind of rhetoric liberals are reduced to when they just can't bring themselves to use the n-word.

Most recently -- at least as we go to press -- last Sunday Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, had this to say about Justice Clarence Thomas: "I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written." You'd think Thomas' opinions were written in ebonics.

In the same interview, Reid called Justice Antonin Scalia (news - web sites) "one smart guy." He said that although he disagreed with Scalia, his reasoning is "very hard to dispute." Scalia is "one smart guy"; Thomas is the janitor. If Democrats are all going to read from the same talking points, they might want to get someone other than David Duke to write them.

On the Sean Hannity radio show, Democratic pundit Pat Halpin defended Sen. Reid's laughable attack on Thomas by citing Bob Woodward's book "The Brethren," which -- according to Halpin -- vividly portrays Thomas as a nincompoop.

I return to my standing point that liberals don't read. Harry Reid clearly hasn't read any of the decisions Justice Thomas has written, and Pat Halpin clearly hasn't read "The Brethren."

"The Brethren" came out a decade before Thomas was even nominated to the Supreme Court. The only black Supreme Court justice discussed in "The Brethren" is Thurgood Marshall. That's one we haven't heard in a while: I just can't tell you guys apart.

How many black justices have there been on the Supreme Court again? Oh yes: two. It's one thing to confuse Potter Stewart with Lewis Powell. After all, there have been a lot of white guys on the court. But there have been only two black justices -- and Democrats can't keep them straight. Two! That's like getting your mother and father confused. I can name every black guy on a current National Hockey League roster: Is it asking Democrats too much to remember the names of the only two black Supreme Court justices?

In "America (The Book)," by Jon Stewart and the writers of Comedy Central's "Daily Show," the section on the judiciary describes how to make a sock puppet of Clarence Thomas and then says, "Ta-da! You're Antonin Scalia!" On grounds of originality alone, Mr. Stewart, I want my money back.

But reviewing the book in The New York Times, Caryn James called the sock puppet joke one of the book's "gems of pointed political humor." Funny how the liberal punditocracy all parrot this same "sock puppet" line about Thomas year after year, almost as if they were sock pu-- oh, never mind.

Curiously, of all the liberals launching racist attacks on black conservatives I've quoted above, only two are themselves black: the two who write for The New York Times. So I guess there are still a couple of blacks taking orders from the Democrats. Isn't there an expression for that? I think it begins with "Uncle" and ends with "Tom."



Wed Jan 5, 7:59 PM ET

By Ann Coulter

Even the United Nations (news - web sites) sponge who called the United States "stingy" immediately retracted the insult, saying he had been misinterpreted and that the U.S. was "most generous." But The New York Times was sticking with "stingy." In an editorial subtly titled "Are We Stingy? Yes," the Times said the U.N. sponge "was right on target." This followed up a patriotic editorial a few days earlier titled "America, the Indifferent."

America's stinginess is a long-standing leitmotif for liberals -- which is getting hard to square with their love for America. When it comes to heaping insults on America, U.S. liberals are the nation's leading donors.

In 2003, the Center for Global Development -- funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, despite the fact that it could have used that money on future tsunami victims -- concluded that the U.S. ranked 20th out of 21 nations in helping poorer nations. This came as a surprise, inasmuch as the U.S. gives the highest absolute amounts of foreign aid to the developing world.

But as the study explained, the center "assesses policy effort rather than impact." As any liberal can tell you, it's not results that count, it's intentions! In other words, the CGD discounted some countries' foreign aid because the CGD decided it was the sort of aid that wouldn't work -- even if, in the end, it did work.

The CGD's evaluation of "effort" somehow managed to bump U.S. contributions from the No. 1 spot to second-to-last. Sending the military to liberate millions of people from ruthless dictators, for example, did not count as "aid," whereas sending in peacekeepers afterward did.

The U.S. did not merely write a check to help the oppressed people of Afghanistan (news - web sites) and Iraq (news - web sites): The U.S. did most of the fighting and liberating as well as a significant share of the dying. Where's Michael Moore with that up-to-the-minute body count of U.S. soldiers when you need him?

But in the words of the CGD, military aid doesn't count because "one country's security enhancement is another's destabilizing intervention" -- you know, the way U.S. soldiers "destabilized" France in 1944. (My guess is, Presbyterian missionaries in the jungle don't get as many points as U.N. seminars on condom use either.)

Consequently, in 2003, Norway got 7.1 points for "peacekeeping." Denmark got 7.4 points. France got 5.2. The country that dispatched the Taliban and Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) -- and, before that, ensured that the above countries would not be speaking German or Russian -- got 1.5 points for "peacekeeping."

But at least we beat Japan! Except in other studies by liberals -- who certainly do love their country -- that claim Japan beats the U.S. in foreign aid donations.

Among Al Franken's proofs that Bill O'Reilly is a "liar" -- in addition to his jaw-dropping revelation that O'Reilly's former TV show won a "Polk" and not a "Periwinkle" Award -- Franken attacked O'Reilly for having the audacity to say the U.S. gives more foreign aid than any other country in the world.

Responding to this outrage, Franken writes: "Japan gives more. Not per capita. More." (And Franken is the world's largest donor of mentions of his own USO tours.)

I guess there are as many ways to calculate "aid" as there are to calculate "love of country." According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in 2003, the U.S. gave $37.8 billion out of a total $108.5 billion in foreign aid from the world's major countries -- notable for being more than three times the amount from the next largest donor, the Netherlands, clocking in at $12.2 billion. Americans make up about 5 percent of the world's population and give about 35 percent of the aid.

So it's interesting that a great patriot like Al Franken -- who goes on USO tours regularly, in case he hasn't called you at home in the last 10 minutes to remind you -- would choose the method of calculating foreign aid most disparaging to his country and call O'Reilly a "liar" for using a different calculus.

At a minimum, in order to discount the largesse of the United States, one must carefully exclude gigantic categories of aid, such as military aid, food aid, trade policies, refugee policies, religious aid, private charities and individual giving.

However "aid" is calculated, it is not that hard to calculate someone's affection for their country based on their propensity to tell slanderous lies about it.

Let's review.

The New York Times calls the U.S. "stingy" and runs letters to the editor redoubling the insult, saying: "The word 'stingy' doesn't even come close to accurately describing the administration's pathetic initial offer of aid. ... I am embarrassed for our country."

Al Franken flies into a rage upon discovering that O'Reilly imagines the U.S. is the most generous nation in the world.

The Washington Post criticizes Bush for not rushing back to Washington in response to the tsunami -- amid unfavorable comparisons to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who immediately cut short his vacation and returned to Berlin. (Nothing snaps a German to attention like news of mass death!)

The prestigious Princeton "ethicist" Peter Singer, who endorses sex with animals and killing children with birth defects, says "when it comes to foreign aid, America is the most stingy nation on Earth."

And has some enterprising reporter asked Sen. Patty Murray (news, bio, voting record) what she thinks about the U.S.'s efforts on the tsunami? How about compared to famed philanthropist Osama bin Laden (news - web sites)?

In December 2002, Murray was extolling Osama bin Laden's good works in the Middle East, informing a classroom of students: "He's been out in these countries for decades building roads, building schools, building infrastructure, building day-care facilities, building health-care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. It made their lives better." What does Murray say about bin Laden's charity toward the (mostly Muslim) tsunami victims?

Speaking of world leaders admired by liberals, why isn't Fidel Castro (news - web sites) giving the tsunami victims some of that terrific medical care liberals tell us he has been providing the people of Cuba?

Stipulating that liberals love America -- which apparently depends on what the meaning of "love" is -- do they love America as much as they love bin Laden and Castro?



Fri Dec 31,12:02 AM ET

By Ann Coulter

The single biggest event of 2004 was the Election Day exit poll, which, like John Steinbeck's "The Short Reign of Pippin IV," made John Kerry (news - web sites) the president for a few moments. But in a move that stunned the experts, American voters chose "moral values" over an America-bashing trophy husband and his blow-dried, ambulance-chasing sidekick.

The second biggest event in 2004 came on Sunday, Dec. 26, when The New York Times referred to an organization as a "liberal research group." (I think it may have been the Communist Party USA, Trotskyite wing, but, still, it's progress.)

CBS eminence Dan Rather was driven off the air in disgrace after he tried to take down a sitting president by brandishing Microsoft Word documents he claimed were authentic Texas Air National Guard memos from the '70s. By liberals' own account, the pompous blowhard was exposed by people sitting around their living rooms in pajamas.

John Kerry's meal ticket, Teresa Heinz, continuously made remarks that were wildly inappropriate, such as when she strangely referred to the "seven-year itch" in relation to herself and John Kerry, creating at least three images I didn't want in my head. On the other hand, for any voters who considered the most important campaign issue to be whether the first lady was an earthy, condescending foreigner who had traveled extensively and spoke several languages, Teresa was a huge asset.

Surprisingly, Teresa never became a major campaign issue. It turned out that supporters of a phony war hero who preyed on rich widows were also OK with the notion of a first lady who might use the F-word during Rose Garden press conferences. By the same token, anyone who was put off by the not-so-affable Eva Peron of American politics already didn't like John Kerry -- thanks largely to John O'Neill and the Swiftboat Veterans.

Like the archers of Agincourt, John O'Neill and the 254 Swiftboat Veterans took down their own haughty Frenchman.

Meanwhile, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom is nipping at O'Neill's heels as the man second-most responsible for Bush's re-election. Thanks largely to Newsom's hard work, gay marriage was big news all year.

In retrospect, the Democrats would have been better off if they had found every gay guy in America who actually wanted to get married and offered each one a million dollars in exchange for the Democrats not having to talk about gay marriage. (Finally -- a problem that could have been solved by throwing money at it!)

On the basis solely of media coverage, Abu Ghraib was the biggest story of 2004, maybe the biggest story ever. And for good reason: An American soldier was caught on film not only humiliating Iraqi prisoners -- but smoking!

The New York Times even had to drop its coverage of Augusta National Golf Course to give Abu Ghraib due prominence. Only the Rumsfeld autopen scandal was big enough to knock Abu Ghraib off the front page.

I personally haven't been so singularly disturbed by an atrocity since I had to sit through all of "The Matrix: Reloaded."

By contrast, the least important story -- again, judging by media coverage -- was the peculiar development of a Clintonite caught trying to get into his own pants. Sandy Berger was spotted by National Archives staff repeatedly stuffing top-secret documents into his undergarments in preparation for defending the Clinton administration's record on fighting terrorism before the 9/11 Commission. If you happened to take a long nap the day the Berger story broke, you would have missed it entirely.

On the bright side, The New York Times has adopted an all-new standard for covering the extramarital affairs of public figures. With no fanfare, the Times quickly abandoned its earlier position that a U.S. president molesting White House staff -- including while on the phone discussing sending troops into battle -- is not news. The new rule rolled out for Bernie Kerik makes extramarital affairs major front-page news deserving of nonstop coverage, even after the public figure has withdrawn his name from consideration for any government office.

American hero Pat Tillman won a Silver Star this year. But unlike Kerry, he did not write his own recommendation or live to throw his medals over the White House fence in an anti-war rally.

Tillman was an American original: virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be. The stunningly handsome athlete walked away from a three-year, $3.6 million NFL contract with the Arizona Cardinals to join the U.S. military and fight in Afghanistan (news - web sites), where he was killed in April.

He wanted no publicity and granted no interviews about his decision to leave pro football in the prime of his career and join the Army Rangers. (Most perplexing to Democrats, he didn't even take a home movie camera to a war zone in order to create fake footage for future political campaigns in which he would constantly palaver about his military service and drag around his "Band of Brothers" for the media.)

Tillman gave only an indirect explanation for his decision on the day after 9/11, when he said: "My great grandfather was at Pearl Harbor, and a lot of my family has gone and fought in wars, and I really haven't done a damn thing as far as laying myself on the line like that." He said he wanted to "pay something back" to America.

He died bringing freedom and democracy to 28 million Afghans -- pretty much confirming Michael Moore's view of America as an imperialist cowboy predator. There is not another country in the world -- certainly not in continental Europe -- that could have produced a Pat Tillman.

On the anniversary of D-Day, as Americans like Pat Tillman risked their lives to liberate 50 million Iraqis and Afghans, in a year when Americans poured into theaters to see a movie about Christ and reaffirmed their support for moral values at the polling booth, America's greatest president died. Ronald Reagan (news - web sites) appealed to what is best about America and so transformed the nation that we are now safe to carry on without him.

Toilet Brush Warning Wins Consumer Award

Bill's Comment: Toilet Humor, Part II

Toilet Brush Warning Wins Consumer Award

Thu Jan 6, 7:31 AM ET

By DAVID N. GOODMAN, Associated Press Writer

DETROIT - The sign on the toilet brush says it best: "Do not use for personal hygiene."

That admonition was the winner of an anti-lawsuit group's contest for the wackiest consumer warning label of the year.

The sponsor, Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch, says the goal is "to reveal how lawsuits, and concern about lawsuits, have created a need for common sense warnings on products."

The $500 first prize went to Ed Gyetvai, of Oldcastle, Ontario, who submitted the toilet-brush label. A $250 second prize went to Matt Johnson, of Naperville, Ill., for a label on a children's scooter that said, "This product moves when used."

A $100 third prize went to Ann Marie Taylor, of Camden, S.C., who submitted a warning from a digital thermometer that said, "Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally."

This year's contest coincides with a drive by President Bush (news - web sites) and congressional Republicans to put caps and other limits on jury awards in liability cases.

"Warning labels are a sign of our lawsuit-plagued times," said group President Robert Dorigo Jones. "From the moment we raise our head in the morning off pillows that bear those famous Do Not Remove warnings, to when we drop back in bed at night, we are overwhelmed with warnings."

The leader of a group that opposes the campaign to limit lawsuits admits that while some warning labels may seem stupid, even dumb warnings can do good.

"There are many cases of warning labels saving lives," said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy in New York. "It's much better to be very cautious ... than to be afraid of being made fun of by a tort reform group."

The Wacky Warning Label Contest is in its eighth year.

Nine-Year-Old Boy Fascinated by Toilets

Bill's Comment: Toilet Humor, Part I
Nine-Year-Old Boy Fascinated by Toilets

Tue Jan 4, 9:15 PM ET

MASSILLON, Ohio - Nine-year-old Joey Sinay is so interested in how toilets work that he wrote a letter to a toilet maker asking if they would produce a clear commode.

"He thought it would be neat to have a clear toilet in his house, so he can see how it works," said Joey's father, Nick Sinay.

The letter to Kohler, a Wisconsin-based plumbing product company, sent last year when Joey was 8, caught the company's attention.

"It's pretty unusual to get a letter like that from an 8-year-old," said John Bashaw, the company's custom service director.

A clear toilet wasn't doable. But officials at Kohler wrote back twice. "We were so impressed by the fact that he took the time to write us a letter," Bashaw said.

In December, the little plumber from Massillon got a present from Kohler — a state-of-the-art bulk flush toilet.

Joey, who keeps a toolbox under his bed, was nearly speechless. A local plumber agreed to help the boy install his dream gift.

"When we built our home, we would come over a lot when they were building it, and he followed the plumber around. He would just watch," said Michelle Sinay, Joey's mother.

With Dennis Potter of Ohio Spa & Parts taking the lead, Joey helped remove the old upstairs bathroom toilet and install the new one.

Potter taught the youngster how to install a toilet. He gave him tips and quizzed him on the many functions. By the end, Joey was working on it by himself.

Among his duties, Joey disconnected and carried out the old toilet tank. He unwrapped the new toilet seat, screwed it onto the bowl and discarded the product sticker.

Joey, smiling the entire time, was eager to learn from a real life plumber.

"Plumbers are guardians of the nation's health because they take care of everything," Potter told his apprentice.

For Joey, it wasn't all that deep.

"It was just fun to put it together," he said.

Five for '05

Five for '05

Tue Jan 4, 9:34 PM ET

Duncan Currie

Washington (The Daily Standard) - WHO WILL MAKE the biggest political splash of 2005? Will it be an Indian-American Rhodes Scholar from Louisiana? Or the star of the Democratic convention? Or maybe a conservative Republican winning the New Jersey governorship? Who knows. But here's a list of five politicians to keep an eye on during the coming year.

RICHARD BURR. Few Senate candidates--from either party--ran a shrewder, more effective campaign than North Carolina congressman Richard Burr. The GOP nominee trailed his Democratic opponent, ex-Clinton chief of staff Erskine Bowles, by double digits for months. As late as mid September, one poll gave Bowles a 10-point lead. But Burr was patient. His campaign had judged North Carolina voters to be late-deciders. In the end, Burr's strategy paid off. He unleashed a surge of TV and radio ads after Labor Day. In particular, Burr targeted the so-called Jessecrats--conservative Democrats in eastern North Carolina who are the perennial swing voters in statewide elections. He soon overtook Bowles and never lost ground. On November 2, Burr won by five points--a veritable landslide given where he stood just seven weeks earlier. The senator-elect is attractive, well-spoken, and relatively conservative. GOP pollster Frank Luntz calls Burr "one of the best five communicators that the Republicans have in Washington." He's a former college football player (from Wake Forest) to boot.

KEN SALAZAR. How "red" is Colorado? Not red enough to pull Republican Senate candidate Pete Coors past Democrat Ken Salazar. Coors, the beer baron, had the obvious advantages of his name recognition and personal fortune. But Salazar, the Colorado attorney general, brandished 18 years of public service and a centrist reputation. He also claimed humble, rural roots and a productive relationship with Republican governor Bill Owens. Salazar's record will instantly make him one of the more conservative Democrats in the Senate. He is pro-death penalty, moderately pro-gun, anti-gay marriage, tough on crime, and a deficit hawk. He supported the Iraq (news - web sites) war and once backed a pilot school voucher program for Denver. "We have to beat him now so we don't have to deal with him in the future," Governor Owens told National Review reporter John Miller before the election. No such luck for Republicans. Salazar's star is rising. He's now won three statewide races in Colorado--a state George W. Bush carried handily in 2000 and 2004. Look for Salazar, Colorado's first Hispanic senator, to fill outgoing Louisiana Democrat John Breaux's role as a bipartisan dealmaker.

BOBBY JINDAL. Republicans rave about Bobby Jindal, the incoming representative from Louisiana's first district. And why not? It isn't every day Republicans get to boast an Indian-American Rhodes Scholar and health care policy whiz as president of the GOP House freshmen. Jindal, 33, is only the second Indian American ever elected to Congress. Shortly after he won his seat--with 78 percent of the vote--House majority whip Roy Blunt tapped him for assistant whip. Jindal, a deeply religious Catholic conservative, barely lost the 2003 Louisiana governor's race. He's now one of the Republicans' brightest young lights.

BARACK OBAMA. Has any politician ever entered Congress to such ubiquitous fanfare as Barack Obama? Probably not. Will he measure up to the hype? We'll soon find out. No question Obama gave a wonderful speech at the Democratic convention. It's hard to imagine another liberal Democrat, let alone Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton (news - web sites), delivering it. But make no mistake: Obama is indeed a liberal. Consider his record as an Illinois state senator. Obama has supported strict anti-gun measures, promoted universal health care, defended racial preferences, opposed tough-on-crime legislation designed to thwart gang violence, and voted "present" on an Illinois partial-birth abortion ban. He also spoke out against President Bush (news - web sites)'s tax cuts and the Iraq war. (At an October 2002 antiwar rally, Obama called the anti-Saddam buildup a cynical ploy cooked up by Karl Rove to "distract us" from domestic problems.) Obama's lofty, unconventional rhetoric made him a star at the convention. But he'll need more than words to distinguish himself in the U.S. Senate.

BRET SCHUNDLER. Were former Jersey City mayor Bret Schundler a stock, it would be possible to chart his price fluctuations over the years. In 1999, William F. Buckley Jr. wrote of Schundler, "Look for him in 2008" (as in the 2008 presidential race). Schundler hit an all-time high in June 2001, when he won New Jersey's Republican gubernatorial primary against congressman Bob Franks, the heavy favorite. But then Schundler lost badly to Democrat Jim McGreevey in the general election. With McGreevey now disgraced and gone, and many Garden State voters still seething over his conduct, Schundler has a real shot to capture the governorship in 2005. It's his best chance yet--and probably his last chance, should he lose. But the conservative ex-mayor first has to fend off Republican Doug Forrester, among others, in the primary. Lined up for the Democrats is New Jersey senator Jon Corzine, the so-called human ATM, who spent some $60 million on his successful 2000 Senate run. New Jersey, of course, is a solidly "blue" state. So Schundler faces an uphill battle. But he's learned from his mistakes in 2001. And he has a compelling three-pronged campaign message: lower property taxes, spending caps, and anti-corruption reform. These are salient issues for all New Jerseyans. (For that matter, roughly half of all registered voters in New Jersey are independents.) Should Schundler--a pro-life, Reaganite conservative--win, it would be a victory of titanic proportions for Republicans. And maybe--just maybe--it would produce another contender for the 2008 (or 2012) GOP presidential nomination.

Duncan Currie is an editorial assistant at The Weekly Standard.

Creator of Popular Bundt Pan Dies at 86

Bill's Comment: I wonder what the official cause of death will be?

Creator of Popular Bundt Pan Dies at 86

Wed Jan 5, 2:05 PM ET

EDINA, Minn. - H. David Dalquist, creator of the aluminum Bundt pan, the top-selling cake pan in the world, has died at 86.

Dalquist, who died at his home Sunday of heart failure, founded St. Louis Park-based Nordic Ware, which has sold more than 50 million Bundt pans.

Dalquist designed the pan in 1950 at the request of members of the Minneapolis Chapter of the Hadassah Society. They had old ceramic cake pans of somewhat similar designs but wanted an aluminum pan. Dalquist created a new shape and added regular folds to make it easier to cut the cake.

The women from the society called the pans "bund pans" because "bund" is German for a gathering of people. Dalquist added a "t" to the end of "bund" and trademarked the name. So all Bundt pans and Bundt cakes stem from Dalquist.

For years, the company sold few such pans. Then in 1966, a Texas woman won second place in the Pillsbury Bake-Off for her Tunnel of Fudge Cake made in a Bundt pan. Suddenly, bakers across America wanted their own Tunnel of Fudge cakes.

The Bundt pan is the biggest product line for Nordic Ware, which sells a variety of pots and pans and other kitchen equipment. More than 1 million Bundt pans are sold each year.

Dalquist founded Nordic Ware after returning from duty with the Navy during World War II. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in chemical engineering.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Margerite Staugaard Dalquist, four children and 12 grandchildren.

Jailed Man Sentenced for Cheese Sandwiches

Jailed Man Sentenced for Cheese Sandwiches

app. 1/5/05.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A man serving a life sentence for murder was sentenced to three additional years in prison for passing out cheese sandwiches while in jail.

Douglas Eugene Wilson, 45, pleaded guilty Monday to possession of contraband and was sentenced by District Judge Thomas Kane.

Prosecutors said Wilson had the sandwiches while in jail awaiting trial on the murder charge and he tried to give them to other inmates, which is a violation of jail rules.

A sheriff's deputy testified at a hearing in May that they warned Wilson not to pass food to other inmate then shocked him with a stun gun when he ignored them.

Wilson was tackled and handcuffed after he reportedly charged a deputy. Second-degree assault and attempted second-degree assault charges against Wilson were dropped in exchange for the contraband guilty plea.

"Why are the taxpayers paying the judiciary to hold this hearing on some contraband sandwiches?" he said in a telephone interview with the Gazette of Colorado Springs. "Taxpayers want to know where their money is going — there it is."

Wilson was convicted last month of first-degree murder in the strangling death of Liza Chavez, 37.

Jimmy Carter Urged to Give Fish a Chance

Bill's Comment: All we need now is for John Lennon to rise like Lazarus, so that he could sing, "Give Fish A Chance".

Jimmy Carter Urged to Give Fish a Chance

Tue Jan 4,10:08 AM ET

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A prominent U.S.-based animal rights group urged former President Jimmy Carter on Monday to give up fishing on the grounds that the activity was inconsistent the Nobel peace laureate's humanitarian efforts.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals made its appeal in a letter faxed to Carter's non-profit Carter Center on Monday. The group said the letter was prompted by Carter's recent appearance on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.

Carter, who served as president from 1977 to 1981 and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, told Leno of the pain he suffered when he accidentally hooked himself through the face on a fishing trip.

"We're asking President Carter to think this through and to grant fish peace by leaving them in the water where they belong," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a press release.

A Carter Center spokesman said the center does not comment on Carter's private correspondence.

Man Registers Deadly Blood-Alcohol Level

Bill's Comment: Even the Kennedy's envy this man. I read in a book recently that the late Andre the Giant once drank 104 beers one night at a bar. Have one on me!

Man Registers Deadly Blood-Alcohol Level

Tue Jan 4, 5:11 PM ET

SOFIA, Bulgaria - Incredulous doctors made five blood tests on a drunken man to confirm he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.914, far above the usual life-threatening range, police and doctors said Tuesday.

The 67-year-old man, whose name was not released, was hospitalized Dec. 20, when a car knocked him down on a street in the southern Bulgarian city of Plovdiv.

A breath test showed high blood alcohol level, but police officers thought the result was inaccurate, because the man was conscious and talked with them, said Col. Angel Rangelov, head of police in Plovdiv.

Laboratory analysis of five subsequent blood samples taken the same day confirmed that the man had had a 0.914 blood alcohol content, Rangelov said. An 0.55 blood-alcohol level is usually considered as life-threatening.

Dr. Svetlan Dermendzhiev of Plovdiv's University hospital told state news agency BTA he had not seen such a high level.

The man was reported in stable condition after treatment for head injuries.

Brainy women face handicap in marriage stakes: British survey

Bill's Comment: I just think that smart inidivduals, in general, have a harder time, as well as those that are considered very good looking. Just my opinion.

Brainy women face handicap in marriage stakes: British survey

Sun Jan 2, 3:43 PM ET

LONDON (AFP) - A high IQ is a hindrance for women wanting to get married while it is an asset for men, according to a study by four British universities published in The Sunday Times newspaper.

The study found the likelihood of marriage increased by 35 percent for boys for each 16-point increase in IQ.

But for girls, there is a 40-percent drop for each 16-point rise, according to the survey by the universities of Aberdeen, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

The study is based on the IQs of 900 men and women between their 10th and 40th birthdays.

"Women in their late 30s who have gone for careers after the first flush of university and who are among the brightest of their generation are finding that men are just not interesting enough," said psychologist and professor at Nottingham University Paul Brown in The Sunday Times.

Claire Rayner, writer and broadcaster, said in the article that intelligent men often prefered a less brainy partner.

"A chap with a high IQ is going to get a demanding job that is going to take up a lot of his energy and time. In many ways he wants a woman who is an old-fashioned wife and looks after the home, a copy of his mum in a way."

Tickle: Matchmaking and Online Dating

Source: Tickle: Tips & Advice

Write an eye-catching headline

Our profile headline is your chance to quickly tell other Tickle Matchmaking members who you are, what you're looking for, or why you'd be great for them. Your headline is the first thing people will read about you - so it's important to spend a some time really thinking about how you want to come across to others. Here are a few tried and true tips for writing a great headline:

Be original. Stay away from over-used, generic headlines such as "I'm the One" or "Looking for Love". Instead, think about why you are the one or why you're looking for love - such as, "I'd make you the best peach pie you've ever eaten."

Be you. What makes you unique? Your headline should play up the parts of your personality that give you character. Be honest about what you like about yourself. Think about compliments you've received from friends and how they would describe you to others.

"Smart, sophisticated, and mellow" is clear and to the point.

"Grounded Brit loves talks and teatime" tells you what this person likes to do.

"I eat endorphins for breakfast" - enough said.

Or, take Tickle's Ultimate Personality Test and get a fun and accurate analysis of your personality. Then use what you learn about your personality to help you write a headline that is truly you.

Be concise. The best headlines are 3 - 6 words long and send a message that others can quickly and clearly understand.:

Be clear. It pays to be clever, but you don't want to lose or confuse people with headlines that assume a certain sense of humor or make references to obscure books, movies, or events. Save chats about obscure topics for your first email or a face to face conversation.

Be positive. Stay away from using words that set you in a negative or pessimistic light, like "Lonely" "Desperate", and "Discouraged". Even if you are feeling this way, most people aren't looking for people who are lonely, desperate, or discouraged.

Be fresh. It's a good idea to update your headline every once in a while to show people you're still out there - and to see if you get more or less attention depending on the message your headline is sending.

Write a profile they can't ignore

Often, the hardest part of creating your profile is describing yourself to others. Tickle Matchmaking gives you the freedom to define yourself so you can put your best foot forward. Here are a few suggestions for getting started:

Think about what sets you apart. How are you different? What gives you your unique character? If your friends were describing you, what would be the three things they would all say about you? These are good questions to ask yourself as you get ready to write your profile.

Another fun way to present yourself in a fresh light is to take one or more Tickle tests and write about what your test result says about you. To take a Tickle test, click here.

Be honest. Honesty is taken seriously at Tickle Matchmaking and it's the single most important thing to remember when writing a great profile. It's much easier to write about yourself if you are honest about who you are. It prevents you from having to spin ways to best sell yourself or guess at what you think other people want to read.

A big part of being honest is not misleading people down the road. People will assume that what you write is true — and you don't want to set people up for a surprise later by stretching the truth in your profile. For example, if you hate camping, don't say you love it just to grab the eye of an outdoorsy type.

Show, don't tell: The best profiles show, don't tell, who you are at your best. If you are known for being funny, try explaining how or why you are funny - such as, "I've been known to show up to a party in a wig", instead of "I have a good sense of humor." Paint a picture in their minds of the kind of person you are.

Be open and conversational. Leave formality at the door and write your profile like you are talking to a good friend. Of course, there are some things you might tell a good friend that you probably don't want to include in your profile. It's a good idea to avoid mentioning past relationships and exes, or discoursing on being lonely or desperate. Be optimistic!

Include a photo: Your smile, the background that you're photographed in, what you're wearing, they all paint a picture of what you're truly like. And including a recent photo will get you 10 times the attention.

Check your spelling and grammar. Check your profile for typos and spelling mistakes before you submit it. Show you spent time thinking about and writing your profile.

Update your profile. Keep your profile fresh. Every now and then, go back to your profile and update it to let people know you're still out there.

Photos that get noticed

A recent and honest picture of yourself is probably the most important part of your profile. And Tickle Matchmaking members who include a photo with their profile get 10 times the attention! Here are some pointers on how to select a photo that will stand out from the rest:

Honestly you. An honest picture of yourself will also draw the right people to you. Whether it's your smile, the background you are photographed in, what you are wearing - your photo should show off who you are now.

The best pictures are ones that really look like who you are today - and not what you looked like 10 years ago at your high school graduation.

So, choose a recent, true-to-life photo of yourself that captures your unique spirit. It will keep you from having to own up later to a photo that isn't you or that shows you at a different time in your life.

Go solo. Your primary photo should feature YOU (not you with a group of friends). Save pictures of you with your family or dog for your second and third photo positions.

Face shot. Make sure the picture you choose for your primary photo is large enough to see your face. A picture of a miniature you scaling an enormous mountainside does a good job of showing your adventurous side, but isn't the best choice to include with your profile. A close-up works much better.

Lighting. Photos taken outdoors, with natural lighting are often the best quality. Also, try taking or selecting a black and white photo, as they tend to be more flattering and less common than color and stand out because they are less commonly posted.

Go candid. A posed shot is great, but a candid photo usually captures the more genuine you.

Keep your photo fresh. New haircut? A great tan? Updating your photo once in a while keeps your profile fresh and lets people know you are still out there.

Click here to add a photo now or to read our photo submission guidelines.

Write a message that grabs their attention

What to say? If you find yourself asking this question, you've come to the right place. Here are a few tips on how to write a great message:

Greet by name. First things first — greet the person you are sending a message to by their Tickle Matchmaking user name. This shows them that you know who you are writing to — and adds an immediate personal touch to your message.

Read their profile. Tickle Matchmaking profiles reveal a lot about a person. So, before writing someone for the first time, you should spend a few minutes reading about their likes and dislikes, and what they're looking for in another person. When contacting someone, it helps to mention specific things they wrote in their profile. This shows that you have taken the time to learn a little about them before contacting them.

Personalize your message. Take this advice to heart: don't send form letters. A good message is one that is as unique as the person you are contacting. It's easy to spot a message that has been cut and pasted from one person to the next. If you want someone to respond to you, return the favor: show that you have spent the time to respond to them.

Ask a question. A nice way to add a personal touch to a message — and to gently encourage the person you're contacting to write back — is to include a question to them (preferably related to something they wrote in their profile) in your message.

Ask them to take a Tickle test. Tickle Matchmaking members say they have never had so much fun finding out about themselves and matching up with other members based on Tickle test results. So, invite someone to take a Tickle test and see how you match up!

State your intentions. If this is your first contact with this person, be sure to tell them why you decided to write them. Never send a blank email with just a link to your profile. Be honest with them about why their profile caught your eye. Was it their photo, a common interest, or the way in which their profile was written? Let them know why you picked them.

Also, tell them what you are looking for. Are you looking for a new friend to go hiking with or a long-term relationship? If you let them know now what your expectations for writing them are, you may be preventing potential disappointment later. Remember, there is good chance you could end up meeting this person!

Short and sweet. You shouldn't feel like you have to tell someone your life story the first time you contact them. Keep your message short and sweet and share only enough information for the other person to determine if you're the type of person they're looking for.

Keep in mind, too, that comments about what you do on the weekends, and where you live might give away more about your true identity than you'd like.

Include a photo. If the person you are contacting has included a photo with their profile, it's fair game that you include one in yours before contacting them. If you don't want to include one in your profile, offer to send them one via email - don't make them feel uncomfortable by having to ask you for one.

The sign off. Before signing off, let the person you're contacting know what you'd like to happen next. It's okay to ask them to check out your profile or to send you a message.

How you close your message is entirely up to you. But keep in mind that you might scare people off if you sign your message with romantic sayings such as "Yours Truly", "Fondly", or "Thinking of You". Tickle Matchmaking members often include their first name when signing off - but again, only share information about yourself that you're comfortable with sharing.

Check for typos. Before hitting the "Send" button, give your message the once over for typos and spelling mistakes. You don't want to come across as being sloppy or hurried while writing your message.

Respect their boundaries. If the person you are contacting is interested in meeting men between the ages of 20 and 35, and you are 45 year old male, don't contact them. It's that simple.

Keep your identity private. You should avoid revealing your true identity when contacting someone. Never give out your last name, email address, phone number, or street address.

Getting a response. Tickle Matchmaking members aren't obligated to write back, so don't take it personally if the person you contacted doesn't respond right away. If someone writes back to say they are not interested, don't write them again. Just move on to the next profile and start the excitement all over again!

A safe and fun first date

You've swapped messages, gotten to know each other, and now you're ready to meet face to face. Here are a few things to keep in mind when preparing for a first date:

Where to go. When choosing a place to meet for that exciting first date, it's best to pick a public place. A busy restaurant or coffee shop is a good choice. Another good choice is to plan a daytime date - such as going to a baseball game or playing a round of mini-golf. Here are a few other popular suggestions for a safe and fun first date:

· A picnic in the park
· Strolling around a museum
· A matinee showing of a movie or play
· An outdoor music festival
· Attending a sporting event - such as a baseball or football game
· Coffee date at a popular coffee shop

You might also want to meet someplace other than your favorite spots to hang out - or at least not mention that the meeting spot is someplace you frequent often. That way, you'll maintain control. If this person is eager to see you again, they might come looking for you in the same location if they know it's one of your favorites - whether you want them to, or not.

How to get there. When meeting someone for the first time, be sure you meet them at your designated date location. Never have them pick you up - as you'll then need to reveal your street address or general neighborhood location. If you aren't driving, arrange for a friend to drop you off, or take a cab. But if you take a cab, be sure at least one friend knows the details of where you're going and at what time. Also be sure to carry enough cash to grab a cab ride home after the date if you need to.

What to talk about. Break the ice by paying the other person a genuine compliment, or asking them more about details from their profile. Everyone likes to be flattered, and everyone likes to know that you've taken the time to get to know as much about you as they could. A sincere compliment, and we stress sincere, is a great way to jumpstart a conversation. If that doesn't feel natural, think about what attracted you to them, and take it from there.

Lots of people feel nervous until they've had a chance to warm up and get a read on the situation. If you're feeling tongue-tied, why not ask them their opinion on a current event? Listening to their thoughts on the subject will give you time to get over your initial shyness, as well as stall so you have a chance to pull yourself together and feel comfortable.

Use your instincts to stay safe. Any date you go on should be voluntary — from beginning to end. Even if you're date has rearranged their schedule, paid for everything and gotten a parking ticket just to be with you on your date, you don't owe them anything. And don't let them tell you otherwise. They can yell, they can pout, they can stamp their feet. But if your gut says you're uncomfortable, you don't trust them, you just feel weird but can't put your finger on it, you can excuse yourself, thank them for the evening and walk away. When in doubt, trust your gut and pay attention to any red flags.

Sometimes it's easy to get caught in the moment of being with someone, especially if you're dazzled by certain charms - their looks, their smile, their job, their charisma. But if this person is truly your Mr. or Mrs. Right, you'll have plenty of opportunities to find out in future dates. Be secure enough to know that if this date doesn't work out, there are others just waiting for you around the corner.

If at any point you feel in physical danger, diffuse the situation, involve others around you, call a friend to come get you, get out of there, or even call the police if warranted. Better safe than sorry. No one can blame you for looking out for yourself. And there's no reason to feel embarrassed or worry about what your date will think, or say to you if you "escape" them and an uncomfortable situation. Remember you've known yourself a lot longer than you've known them. Trust yourself, not them. Your safety and comfort level are more important than other's people opinions of you.

Be particularly careful in unfamiliar places. If you're out of your element, be particularly cautious. Whether you're meeting your date in a new part of town, or a different town all together, you want to make sure you set up contingency plans in case something goes wrong. To prepare yourself, always make your own arrangements - even if your date offers you a place to stay or to make hotel or travel reservations for you. Keep it completely in your control by arranging things yourself and keep the relevant information to yourself so that at any point in your date, you have the power to leave without them knowing where you are headed or how to get in touch with you.

If you arrive at the designated date meeting place, and you don't feel comfortable there, either apologize and excuse yourself from the date, or suggest that you go to a different place that you select. Better yet, do your research before you meet your date. If you live in the same city, grab a friend and swing by the intended establishment - both during the day and at night. Remember that the feel of many areas changes once it's dark outside. If you don't like the vibe of the establishment or a neighborhood, reschedule your date and propose an alternative destination.

Online dating safety - general guidelines

You're in control. The beauty of meeting and relating online is that you can collect information gradually, later choosing whether to pursue the relationship in the offline world. You never are obligated to meet anyone, regardless of your level of online intimacy. And even if you decide to arrange a meeting, you always have the right to change your mind. It's possible that your decision to keep the relationship at the anonymous level is based on a hunch that you can't logically explain. Trust yourself. Go with your instincts.

Here are some guidelines for how to date safely - both on and offline:

Remain anonymous. Don't put your last name, email address, phone number, street address, or place of work in your profile or in any messages you send to other Tickle Matchmaking members. Remember, when sending a message to another member, to turn off your automatic signatures.

If someone is trying to pressure you into giving them personal information, either blatantly or through trickery, you should immediately stop communicating with them.

Once you're ready to share your email address with a member outside of the Tickle Matchmaking service, you may want to think about setting up an email address through a free email provider like Yahoo or Hotmail so that you don't reveal your home or work email address.

Go slowly. Set your own pace for getting to know someone. Spend time communicating through email until you feel comfortable enough to actually meet them. Don't be coerced into meeting someone you're not ready to meet — and definitely put the brakes on communicating with someone who makes you feel uncomfortable. Trust your instincts.

Use caution and common sense. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Watch for any instances of odd behavior or displays of anger or extreme frustration. You should immediately stop communicating with someone who tries to control or pressure you, makes disrespectful comments, or exhibits sexually or physically inappropriate behavior.

To report behavior like this to Tickle Matchmaking, please visit our feedback page.

Warning signs to keep in mind. When you meet your date, do they look like their photo on Tickle Matchmaking? It's possible that your date isn't very photogenic and looks quite different in real life. But if they look too different, if you notice birthmarks or features that seem different from the photo you are accustomed to, be on guard.

Other red flags include:

· Are they getting their stories mixed up? If your date starts giving you conflicting information, or stutters or seems hesitant to answer certain reasonable questions, be one guard
· Are they willing to speak on the phone after emailing for a while and before meeting in person?
· Does anything about their email, or phone manner seem strange or out of place to you?
· Do they change the subject, act suspiciously or not answer your questions directly? That is the sign of someone who has something to hide.
· Do they seem completely different on the phone than they were over email? Do they seem different in person than they did on email or on the phone?
· Are they controlling? Always trying to set the plans, direct the conversation?
· Once you've met, do they introduce you to friends or family, or are the resistant to meeting your friends and your family?

Tickle Matchmaking takes dishonesty and inappropriate behavior seriously. Please notify us on our feedback page if you feel someone at Tickle Matchmaking has misrepresented themselves.

Talking on the phone. The great thing about dating online is that you get to control the speed and intensity of your relationship. If you think you want to take your email relationship to a phone relationship, you should wait a few days and see if the feeling remains - and get to know each other just a little bit better online. It's sometimes a good idea to let the other person bring up talking on the phone first. That way, if you're ready, too, you know you are on the same page.

If they ask for your phone number and you're not ready to give it out, say "No," but ask them for a number you can call when you're ready. If you do decide to call, pay attention to who answers the phone and the background noises you hear.

When you are ready to share your phone number, give them a cell phone number or use a local telephone blocking techniques to prevent your phone number from appearing in Caller ID. Only give out your phone number when you feel completely comfortable with doing so.

Meet ONLY when YOU are ready. You are not responsible for what your date is like or how they behave. But you are responsible for getting as much information as you need about this person to feel confident that you can handle any situation that comes your way. Do your research, do everything you can to make sure your meeting will be safe.

This includes:

· Making sure you're comfortable in the neighborhood, and with the venue you select
· Making sure at least one, responsible friend knows where you are headed, with whom and when
· Making sure you look for odd signs of behavior from your date before you meet
· Making sure you listen to your gut about any strange feelings.
· Making sure you don't ignore warning signs when they present themselves - no matter how well you think the date is going.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

How To Set Up Your Friends (without Losing Them)

Source: The N

How To Set Up Your Friends (without Losing Them)
by Mary Chen

When you're not on a dating show like Best Friend's Date (where the whole thing becomes literally a spectator sport) matchmaking your friends might seem deceptively simple. If you think it's just a matter of, "Hey, those two would be so awesome together. Therefore, I shall make it happen!" -- trust me, hon, it CAN go wrong. But if you keep some stuff in mind, maybe it won't. Stuff like:

Do It for Them, Not for You:
If you're just setting up your friend because it's convenient for you -- as in you're sick of them either being a third wheel or complaining about you spending so much time with your bf/gf -- probably it's a good idea to stop right here. The ultimate set-up is done out of love and generosity, not annoyance.

Listen to Your Target's Heart, Not Your Own:
Maybe there's someone your friend is already kind of into, but they're just having trouble making a move. You could help out there, no sweat. Or if not, there is probably a set of characteristics that they're looking for, which you could listen to very carefully. Basically, you don't want to make the mistake of setting your friend up with someone YOU would be into, rather than someone right for them.

Be a Secret Silent Cupid Agent:
When you make an obvious ploy to set two people up, you're making some pretty huge statements to both of those people -- about who you think they're into, who you think they "deserve," and how you envision their love life. And sometimes, completely without meaning to, you can insult them. One way to avoid that is to never be obvious about the fact that you're even trying.

Just get both people into the same place under totally friendly circumstances, perhaps throw in a casual mention of their singleness, and see what happens. Maybe the sparks will fly (the good kind of sparks) and those two will take care of the rest on their own. Or, if they're too shy for that, they'll at least tell you afterwards that they felt some internal sparks. That way, if you help things along, you're not setting anyone up! You're just helping nature take its course!

But there's a crucial other side to that equation: What if they're NOT expressing any spark sensations? You could very carefully ask what they thought of the other person. But if they're not forthcoming with the crush gush at that point, that's when you have to have the strength to step away from the train wreck. Just let the whole thing die and no one will ever be the wiser.

How to Play Cupid

Source: Relationships - How to Play Cupid: Tips for Matchmakers

How to Play Cupid
Tips for matchmakers.

Lambeth Hochwald

Some people were born to play Cupid. Adrienne Arieff, 30, a San Francisco–based public relations director, has been setting up people since high school. Arieff, who met her fiancĂ© through a setup, swears by the low-key approach of inviting two people she thinks would hit it off to group events. "At my birthday party this year, I invited two friends who are both sporty, insanely good-looking and 'players,'" she says. "Within seconds of being in the same room, they were talking. Now, three months later, they're totally in love." Would you, too, love to find your friends matches made in heaven? Before you pick up your love-dipped bow and arrow, consult our successful matchmaker do's and don'ts.

Matchmaker Do's
DO look for a good fit. Bring together people who have things in common — the fact that two people are single is not a good enough reason to set them up! Look to connect individuals with compatible personalities (for example, a go-getter might not be right for a couch potato), similar values (they're both very family-oriented, say), and who are both available and ready to meet someone (make sure they're not entangled with an ex). "Really good matchmakers know to look for two people with similar lifestyles, education and age," says Nina Atwood, a psychotherapist and author of "Be Your Own Dating Service." "You also want them to be at the same place. If one person is more emotionally available than the other, it's going to be a bad match."

DO go with your gut. If you have a strong sense that two friends are going to get along, arrange for phone numbers to be swapped, says Sarah Norton, a professional matchmaker in Dallas who has been in the love-connection business for more than a decade. "If you have a gut feeling your friend is really good for another friend, there's probably something to it, especially if you know both people well," she says.

DO consider appearances. It's naive to think that looks don't matter. A good match usually involves two people who are equally attractive or even have similar physical attributes. "I have this funny theory that people who belong together look alike," says Myreah Moore, a dating coach and author of "Date Like a Man to Get the Man You Want." "Many couples almost look like brother and sister, or at least share some similar features. I don't think that's a coincidence." There's no rule that says an individual can't be attracted to someone who looks markedly different than himself or herself, but large disparities in weight, athleticism and even personal style can make the already difficult business of connecting with a complete stranger even harder.

DO share your insights. Give both of the people you're setting up enough details about the other person so they're not completely lost when they actually meet. Paint a basic picture of each person, recommends Norton, including where he or she grew up and what his or her favorite pastime is. "The more information you share with your people, the more they'll have to talk about," says the professional matchmaker. "Sharing some salient details takes away some of the anxiety of not knowing what to expect; it can help the date go better."

Matchmaker Don'ts
DON'T give the hard sell. If you don't want to set your friends — and yourself — up for disappointment, avoid overselling prospective matches. "You have to walk a fine line," says Lisa Ronis, a professional matchmaker in New York City. "You should tell someone enough about the person you're setting them up with so that they are excited and want to meet them, but you shouldn't talk [him or her] up so much that any mere mortal would be a letdown. Try not to say things like 'She's been described as spectacular-looking' or 'He's the funniest man alive.'" Make sure you're not overstating someone's qualities, even if he or she is a person whom you adore.

DON'T place them in the spotlight. Some people may feel more comfortable being set up in a group situation such as a dinner party or a bar outing, but in order for a match to stand a chance, it's essential that the two people have an opportunity to talk to each other face-to-face. "It's weird when everyone in a group knows two people are on a blind date," says Ronis. "You don't want the people to feel as if they're being watched." To help the potential partners feel more at ease, introduce them and let the evening take its course without too much intervention on your part. Try to give them opportunities to be alone for a while, whether it's asking them to go make coffee or steering the crowd away from them.

DON'T push for a second date. After the first date has gone down, let nature take its course. "Most people know on the first date whether they're interested in seeing a person again," says Slotnick. "The very worst thing you can do as a matchmaker is push two people to go out again if the first date was lousy." Nagging two people to go out a second time if they made only a lukewarm love connection the first time is a surefire way to make them feel bad about their prospects — and resentful of you.

DON'T get too involved. Always remember that despite your best intentions, the two people you set up might not hit it off. Don't invest so much in the match that you'll be devastated if it doesn't pan out. Once you've given both parties phone numbers or e-mail addresses and a brief-but-informative description, back off. "The most successful matchmaker makes the match and then stays out of the way of the natural process of two people getting to know each other," says Slotnick. "The last thing you want to do is get sucked into a he said/she said kind of thing." After all, you don't want other people's love lives to take over your own life.

Lambeth Hochwald is a lifestyles writer in New York City.

Cornyn's view

Source: Washington Times - Inside Politics by Greg Pierce January 5, 2005

Cornyn's view
"At every new year, Americans traditionally reflect on the past, identify problems that need fixing, and adopt New Year's resolutions," Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, writes at National Review Online www.national
"In that same spirit, the Senate needs a New Year's resolution to fix its broken process for considering the president's judicial nominees. To do so, however, we must first recognize that liberal interest groups in Washington have prevented the Senate from confirming several of this president's judicial nominees for one simple reason: They just don't want judges who will just apply the law as written," Mr. Cornyn said.
"These liberal interest groups want judges who will redefine marriage and condemn the Boy Scouts, expel the military from college campuses and purge the public square of expressions of faith. They want courts to ignore the three-strikes-and-you're-out law and give lenient sentences to convicted criminals, block school-choice programs designed to expand educational opportunities to minority communities, and require better treatment for terrorists than for ordinary Americans accused of a crime. They want judicial activists who believe that our civil rights are violated anytime a public-school teacher recites the Pledge of Allegiance, a county clerk issues a wedding license only to the union of one man and one woman, a terrorist is denied access to cookware or athletic equipment, or a Boy Scout troop is allowed onto a military base.
"These groups want judges who will impose their agenda on the nation by judicial fiat — regardless of what the American people have said at the ballot box. And they will do anything to oppose judges who will not blindly rule in their favor.
"The commencement of a new Congress this week provides the perfect opportunity for senators to resolve to reform the judicial-confirmation process. An important first step in reform, however, is recognizing that these liberal interest groups have invented a series of double standards to defeat this president's judicial nominees. The Senate must resolve to reject these absurd double standards and restore fair and traditional standards in the coming year."

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Joke: The Democrat Teacher and Republican Student


The Democrat Teacher and Republican Student

A first grade teacher explained to her class that she was a liberal Democrat. She then asked her students to raise their hands if they were liberal Democrats, too. Not really knowing what a liberal Democrat was, but wanting to please their teacher, hands exploded into the air like fleshy fireworks.

There was, however, one exception. A girl named Lucy had not gone
along with the crowd. The teacher asked Lucy why she decided to be

"Because I'm not a liberal Democrat," Lucy said.
The teacher asked, "Then what are you?"

"I'm a proud conservative Republican" said the little girl.
The teacher, a little perturbed & red-faced, asked Lucy why she was a
conservative Republican?

Lucy proclaimed, "Well, I was brought up to trust in myself and freedom, instead of relying on an intrusive government to care for me and do all of my thinking. My Dad and Mom are conservative Republicans, and I am a conservative Republican too."

The teacher calmly pointed out, "That's no reason. What if your Mom
and Dad were both morons? What would you be then?"

Lucy answered, "Then, I'd be a liberal Democrat."