Conceived above a saloon, delivered into this world by a masked man identified by his heavily sedated mother as Captain Video, raised by a kindly West Virginian woman, a mild-mannered former reporter with modest delusions of grandeur and no tolerance of idiots and the intellectually dishonest.


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Friday, June 06, 2003

Updated Pledge

I pledge allegiance to and wrap myself in the flag of the United States Against Anything Un-American and to the Republicans for which it stands, two nations, under Jesus, rich against poor, with curtailed liberty and justice for all except blacks, homosexuals, women who want abortions, Communists, welfare queens, treehuggers, feminazis, illegal immigrants, children of illegal immigrants, and you, if you don't watch your step.
Matt Groening, Life in Hell, 12/16/94

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Sunday, June 01, 2003

Homeland Stupidity

(AP) Small towns across America could be without fireworks this Fourth of July if federal agencies can't settle on new homeland security restrictions on shipments by train.

"It's getting stupid. Do they really think a terrorist will use a firecracker to blow up a building?" said Don Lantis, of North Sioux City, S.D., whose family-owned pyrotechnics company puts on 300 to 400 shows around the country every Independence Day.

Because of uncertainty over how to comply with the government's anti-terror laws, railways have refused to handle fireworks since early this year, cutting off the main method of transport for shipments arriving at West Coast ports from China and other Asian countries. On May 5, the government issued regulations on fireworks transport by air, water and truck but has yet to decide on new guidelines for trains.

On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., wrote the secretaries of Justice, Transportation and Homeland Security, urging them to quickly come up with interim rules to comply with last year's passage of the Safe Explosives Act.

"The lack of action on rail transport threatens to prevent the delivery of fireworks for the Fourth of July in many areas of the country," he said.

"We are working diligently to get a rail explosives notice," said Blain Rethmeier, a spokesman for the Justice Department. He said the effort was still in the draft stage awaiting agreement by the involved agencies.

Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, said the biggest worry is that companies putting on fireworks shows, while able to satisfy their larger customers, will lack the supplies to carry out performances in smaller communities.

"It's been crippling for the fireworks industry," she said. "The concern is that we are way behind in getting products" because of backlogs at the ports.

She said her association, which represents some 260 pyrotechnics companies, has found only two truck lines willing to carry their products because of the increased security and insurance costs. Trains actually are the safest and most secure way of moving fireworks, she said.

The industry is close-knit, she said, and better-situated companies will help their competitors with supply shortages.

But "it's now or never," she said of the need for new rail transport rules before Independence Day. "We are most renowned for lighting up the skies to show the country's greatness. We aren't associated with terrorism."

Lantis, whose Lantis Fireworks company has been in business since 1945, said it will cost his firm an extra $4,000, more than double current rates, to move a shipment of fireworks from the West Coast by truck rather than train.

He said his company of about 40 employees will have to pay $5 million this year in insurance, and that under new rules everybody in the industry will have to undergo background checks. In the past, he said, the company's Salt Lake City branch hired "shooters" from Australia because of their skills, but prohibitions on foreigners will make that impossible this year.

"It's foolish," he said. "Fireworks don't do anything, they make colors."

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Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The kgb@kgb.com e-mail address is now something other than kgb@kgb.com saga.
kgbreport.com used to be kgb.com until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up kgb.com and adopting kgbreport.com created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the kgb.com domain name in 1993, and had since that time used kgb@kgb.com as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that kgb@kgb.com was no longer kgb@kgb.com but rather kgbarkes@gmail.com which is longer than kgb@kgb.com and more letters to type than kgb@kgb.com and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than kgb@kgb.com but actually just as functional as kgb@kgb.com? I sent e-mails from the kgb@kgb.com address to just about everybody I knew who had used kgb@kgb.com in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the kgb@kgb.com change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which kgb@kgb.com was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for kgb@kgb.com would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that kgb@kgb.com no longer is the kgb@kgb.com they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. kgb@kgb.com. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...

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As a matter of fact, I *am* the boss of you.
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I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.


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Flies spread disease. Keep yours zipped.


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If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions.


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