Joshua Norton, Emperor of These United States

From Wikipedia:

Joshua Abraham Norton (c. 1819[2] – January 8, 1880), also known as His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, was a celebrated citizen of San Francisco, California who proclaimed himself “Emperor of these United States”[3] and later “Protector of Mexico” in 1859.[4] Born in London, Norton spent most of his early life in South Africa; he emigrated to San Francisco in 1849 after receiving a bequest of $40,000 from his father’s estate. Norton initially made a living as a businessman, but he lost his fortune investing in Peruvian rice.[5]

After losing a lawsuit in which he tried to void his rice contract, Norton left San Francisco. He returned a few years later an eccentric and apparently mentally unbalanced man, claiming to be the emperor of the United States.[6] Although he had no political power, and his influence extended only so far as he was humored by those around him, he was treated deferentially in San Francisco, and currency issued in his name was honored in the establishments he frequented.

Though he was considered insane, or at least highly eccentric,[7] the citizens of San Francisco celebrated his regal presence and his proclamations, most famously, his “order” that the United States Congress be dissolved by force (which Congress and the U.S. Army ignored) and his numerous decrees calling for a bridge and a tunnel to be built across San Francisco Bay.[8] On January 8, 1880, Norton collapsed at a street corner, and died before he could be given medical treatment. The following day, nearly 30,000 people packed the streets of San Francisco to pay homage to Norton.[9] Norton’s legacy has been immortalized in the literature of writers like Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson who based characters on him.

Bush Bombs at the United Nations

Be honest, how many of you read the title and thought it said “Bush Bombs the United Nations”?

Certainly not an earth shattering headline, but disturbing nonetheless. The lack of love between George Bush and the United Nations is an old “dog-bites-man” story. Having put haters like John Bolton at the helm of the U.S. delegation, Bush’s in your face “go fuck yourself” hostility to all things UN is no secret.

But today’s performance in New York set a new low even for the Bush Administration. Except for tepid applause when Bush was introduced and when he left the podium, no one clapped. Not even our allies. The world has caught on to the George Bush propaganda game and declines to show him a modicum of respect.

Bush’s efforts to wrap himself in the aura of AIDS prevention, feeding hungry children, rescuing refugees in Darfur, and restoring freedom in Myanmar fell flat. There was a time when the United States could stand proudly before countries like Cuba, Myanmar, Sudan, and Iran and lecture them on human rights and democracy. But in the wake of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, secret renditions and kidnappings of innocent Arab men, flaunting the UN Declarations on Human Rights, the creation of a million plus refugees in Iraq (and the deaths of hundreds of thousands), and the suspension of habeus corpus America has pissed away its credibility.

America’s moral authority is gone. Our credibility in talking about foreign threats and the need to respect human rights is zippo. What is truly appalling about this development is that we have aligned ourselves in practice with those very regimes we so vigorously condemn. In the past, authoritarian regimes like the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba, would justify their right to detain people without worrying about due process because they defined those individuals as terrorists who threatened the state and the security of their people. From their standpoint, all was fair when it came to protecting the nation. Security of the people was paramount, and human rights and civil liberties be damned in the face of perceived threats.

The Top Ten Strange and Unusual Japanese Chewing Gums


These Ten Strange and Unusual Japanese Chewing Gums are really not bad as chewing gum goes – some are actually quite good!

Japanese chewing gum differs from American chewing gum in many ways, and that probably is a result of the practical way Japan looks at chewing gum. Since it’s merely chewed for a while and then disposed of, it just makes sense for chewing gum to serve some function, ANY function before being spat out. This way of thinking can produce some VERY strange and unusual types of chewing gum, and from them we’ve assembled this Top Ten list! Now then, let’s get down to the good, the bad and the sticky!