“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Are you a diamond in the rough? Getting stoned in the after life.

Father returns as a diamond to accompany his daughter down the aisle

By Martin Beckford The Telegraph
Last Updated: 8:32am BST 29/03/2007

A woman had the ashes of her late husband turned into a diamond so he could accompany their daughter down the aisle at her wedding.

Susan Egan came up with the unusual memorial to her husband of 30 years, Mick, after he died of a brain haemorrhage last year.

She found an American company which was able to extract carbon from Mr Egan’s ashes before heating it to extreme temperatures to convert it into graphite.

The rough diamond crystal was then cut to her specifications after being created in special presses.

The synthetic stone took 24 weeks to create but arrived the day before the wedding of the Egans’ daughter Celeste, just in time for her to carry it down the aisle.

Celeste, from Blackpool, told the BBC: “It was emotional but it was nice emotion because I was pleased that it had happened and that I could have something of my Dad to take down the aisle with me.

“It seemed like the right thing to do for us as a family and for my Dad - we think he would have loved the idea.”

Her mother added: “We had to have a blue one because my husband’s eyes are blue. I never visualised that it would be so beautiful until it arrived.

“He is my diamond geezer now."


  1. Terrorists Targeting Students: The Kids are not alright.

    Just months after 9/11, videotapes were confiscated in Afghanistan showing al-Qaeda terrorists training to takeover a school. Six months later, spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheith boldly declared al-Qaeda's "right" to kill 2 million American children.

    This is one reason I favor levelling major Islamic cities.

    If they're going to sanction this then why wait , it's just another of many reasons to do away with about 75-100 million of 'em.

    Targeting Our Children

  2. Softball diamonds are a dyke's best friend.

  3. Bernard Lewis, A Gem, 2007

    "Let me turn to the question of assimilation, which is much discussed nowadays

    I mentioned earlier the important difference in what one means by religion. For Muslims, it covers a whole range of different things--marriage, divorce, and inheritance are the most obvious examples. Since antiquity in the Western world, the Christian world, these have been secular matters. The distinction of church and state, spiritual and temporal, lay and ecclesiastical is a Christian distinction which has no place in Islamic history and therefore is difficult to explain to Muslims, even in the present day. Until very recently they did not even have a vocabulary to express it. They have one now.

    What are the European responses to this situation? In Europe, as in the United States, a frequent response is what is variously known as multiculturalism and political correctness. In the Muslim world there are no such inhibitions. They are very conscious of their identity. They know who they are and what they are and what they want, a quality which we seem to have lost to a very large extent. This is a source of strength in the one, of weakness in the other."

  4. Let's not forget Angelina Jolie's necklace with a vile of her ex-husband's, Billy Bob Thornton's, blood in it.
    Biological Jewelry, what a concept.
    Earings made of real ear wax could be the next big thing.

  5. Tater: If they're going to sanction this then why wait , it's just another of many reasons to do away with about 75-100 million of 'em.

    Quite possibly there are a few undecideds out there looking at different blogs, so they surf to Daily Kos and see a few F words sprinkled here and there, I hate Bush this, I hate Cheney that, but when they surf to the war analysis blogs and see someone calling for the incineration of tens of millions of people, that's just gonna throw them over into the other camp.

  6. SlimSlow: Earings made of real ear wax could be the next big thing.

    I thought human skin lampshades, human hair mattresses, and human fat bar soap went out of fashion in 1945.

  7. "We Free Them or They Destroy Us"


    It may not be suitable for those with Adult ADD.

  8. Ms. T

    You are the quintessential passive agressive.

  9. Stand by your man, unless he's losin', then cut and run. Lessons learned from DC.

    More than two years after losing his bid for the White House, Democratic Sen. John Kerry exacted a measure of revenge against his political foes Wednesday by helping derail the diplomatic nomination of a Republican fundraiser.

    President Bush withdrew the nomination of St. Louis businessman Sam Fox to be ambassador to Belgium after Democrats denounced Fox for his 2004 donation to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

    The group's TV ads, which claimed that Kerry, D-Mass., exaggerated his military record in Vietnam, were viewed as a major factor in Kerry losing the election.

    Bush's action was announced quietly minutes before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was to have voted on the nomination.

    "His nomination would not have passed today if the vote had been called up," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

    During a confirmation hearing last month, Kerry grilled Fox about why he had given $50,000 to a group that was "smearing and spreading lies" about him. Kerry seemed to be seeking an apology but Fox didn't budge, saying he simply gave when asked.

    "Sam Fox had every opportunity to disavow the politics of personal destruction and to embrace the truth," Kerry said Wednesday. "He chose not to. The White House made the right decision to withdraw the nomination. I hope this signals a new day in political discourse."

    When JFKerry praises White House actions whose cause was advanced by those praised actions?

    But then again, when Mr Bush describess Teddy Kennedy as "one of the best", just whose cause is the White House really trying to advance.

    Don't worry, be happy.

  10. but when they surf to the war analysis blogs ....

    they don't stop here.

  11. FROM THE ..DAILY KOS ...

    Cancer: You Can't Fight a War Without Propaganda

    When I was a teenager in the 1970s, about the same time I was diagnosed with "poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma of the nasopharynx," I read somewhere that the War on Cancer had been characterized as "the medical Vietnam."

    The analogy was, a probably still is, valid for a number of reasons. The "war" seems to go on forever. Promising new strategies often appear to succeed at first, only to prove untenable as time passes. Radiation and chemotherapy destroy human tissue like napalm strikes or carpet bombing. The "enemy" is cells that are often all but indistinguishable from the "friendly" healthy cells (poorly differentiated, that is). Sometimes doctors have to "destroy a village to save it."

    And as an Associated Press story reminds me, there are the bungled news reports from the battlefield, often tainted with propaganda meant to win hearts and minds, promising both the troops in the field and their families at home that the fight is not in vain.

    The headline says "Edwards’ saga shows ‘new face’ of cancer."

    "Just two decades ago," the article begins, "a breast cancer diagnosis was something a patient likely wouldn't share beyond close family and friends. Even the word ‘cancer’ was barely spoken out loud. And no wonder: It raised immediate thoughts of a death sentence."

    "Two decades ago" was 1987. Writer Jocelyn Noveck is off by at least 10 years, I’d say. Recall that President Reagan was nearing the end of his second term. Anyone who was paying attention to the news would remember his colon cancer scare, which required a colonoscopy and removal of polyps. All this was covered thoroughly in newspapers and TV, along with drawings to graphically illustrate the uncomfortable surgery the commander in chief was subjected to. (He reportedly joked that if the surgeon probed any deeper into his colon they’d have been able to shake hands.)

    Colon cancer was being widely discussed then, and breast cancer was a cause celebre even earlier. It was probably the first "trendy" cancer, to the point that it drew public attention away from the more obscure neoplasms.

    So, for the record, there absolutely was no need to whisper about cancer in 1987. When I was being treated in the mid-’70s, a certain reticence remained, but even then I recall being bombarded by less-than-straightforward assurances that cancer wasn’t a "death sentence" anymore.

    "So," Noveck continues, "when Elizabeth Edwards greeted the waiting media with a smile, a frank account of her worsening illness and a declaration that her life would go on exactly as before, it was an important reminder to many in the cancer community of how far things had come — and how people like Edwards are representing a new face of the disease."

    Wrong. Elizabeth Edwards, with all due respect, is just reading from the script. She’s not putting on a "new face," it’s the same brave face that I wrote about in my first diary. (And by no means am I the first to make this point.)

    I’m not criticizing Edwards, because she has little choice in the matter. The public expects to see her exactly as she is. And the reason the public expects that is because the propagandists in the War on Cancer have decided that (warning, another military reference coming) the public "can’t handle the truth."

    And what is this garbage about "the cancer community"? Do we all move to a neighborhood called Cancer Town?

    In the first place, every human being is a member of "the cancer community."

    When I was in college I took a few classes to try to better understand cancer. One of my professors spoke about the concept of "the inevitability of cancer."

    Cancer, grossly simplified, results from a breakdown in the immune system, when the body fails to recognize and destroy malformed cells. The immune system, as a general rule, breaks down with age. And aging is inevitable.

    Again, simplifying for the sake of brevity, if nothing else kills you first, eventually you will probably be diagnosed with some kind of cancer. Everyone reading this could have cancerous cells in their body now. As I understand it, it’s a shockingly common phenomenon even in healthy people. Whether those cells survive and spread long enough to make you sick depends on how well your immune system is working. It’s probably working just fine, so don’t worry.

    In the second place, major segments of the "cancer community" never get a chance to sound off in the media. There are, for instance, members of the "cancer community" who’d take issue with the distressingly predictable comments in the article from the president of the American Cancer Society who says Edwards "will have a very important impact for many individuals.... She can offer hope and courage to others facing more advanced disease."

    This is the same boilerplate happy talk that always appears in any media discussion of cancer. You see it popping up reflexively in the recent reports that presidential spokesman Tony Snow has also had a setback in his cancer case.

    For one thing, the fact that so many celebrities have gone public with all the details of their cancer battles means that Elizabeth Edwards is just another voice in the chorus. The "important impact," if such a thing exists, has already been felt.

    As far as the "hope and courage" goes (not very far), the Pollyannas in the alleged cancer community grossly overstate the positive effects of seeing another cancer patient healthier than oneself. Some patients will be uplifted, others will despair and wonder why they’re still stuck in bed and feeling like hammered dog poop in the rain. When third parties point to Edwards’ shining example, the subtext is "What’s your problem? Why can’t you be stop feeling sorry for yourself and be like her?"

    I hate to be crass and cynical, but I firmly believe the "hope and courage" that comes out of a bottle of Ativan or Valium is often a great deal more helpful. Some grunts sweating and bleeding in the booby-trapped jungles of the medical Vietnam will just never be able to pull off that happy-go-lucky attitude. They probably wish the propagandists in their safe, air-conditioned offices would shut the hell up

  12. ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (Associated Press) -- A woman kidnapped by female seminary students and accused of running a brothel was freed Thursday after a hard-line cleric forced her to repent in public _ an episode in vigilante justice that shows the boldness of Islamic extremists in Pakistan.

    Students in black burqas had seized the woman and several of her relatives from her home late Tuesday during an anti-vice campaign in the capital, taking the law into their own hands and embarrassing President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's military-dominated government.

    The students are disciples of Abdul Rashid Ghazi, vice principal of the Jamia Hafsa seminary and a cleric at the adjoining Lal Masjid mosque. The mosque has a reputation for preaching hard-line Islam as well as links to an outlawed militant group accused in sectarian attacks on Shiite Muslims.

    With no sign of police intervention to force her release, the woman, known as Aunty Shamim, was presented to reporters at the Jamia Hafsa seminary in Islamabad to meet Ghazi's demand that she stop "spreading obscenity" in return for her freedom.
    The actions of the seminary students in Islamabad is "evidence of growing Talibanization in the country," the liberal daily paper The News said in an editorial Thursday. "What's disturbing is that this isn't happening in some remote tribal region, but in the heart of the federal capital."

    Where are those functional Islamic nuclear weapons?


    No More Power Grabs!

    Another attempted power grab by the Bush administration comes in the form of the Legislative Line Item Veto Act of 2006. This bill would give the president ‘rewrite authority’ on appropriations and entitlement bills, allowing him to unilaterally slash funding for education, healthcare, the arts, and services and programs for low-income Americans.
    Hold Bush Accountable: Demand a Special Prosecutor to Investigate the White House

    People For the American Way

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  15. Socialist Party Statements: US Out of Iraq
    By Eric Chester, International Commission Chair

    President Bush's declaration that he intends to send an additional 20,000 combat troops to Iraq represents yet another step further into the quagmire. The United States had no legitimate reason to invade Iraq in March 2003, and there is no justifiable ground to prolong the occupation now.

    The United States is not occupying Iraq to free the Iraqi people or to somehow impose a non-sectarian regime in a country deeply divided by religious and ethnic enmities. These are just pious platitudes intended to cover the true goals of U.S. foreign policy. Already, the U.S. backed government is preparing to open Iraqi oil fields, among the richest in the world, to private investment. Oil giants such as Exxon will be granted thirty-year leases to restore production, thus enabling them to reap bonanza profits. The lives of our young men and women are once again being sacrificed to the rapacious greed of the wealthy few.

    Iraq was cobbled together by British colonialists in the aftermath of World War I, with its boundaries set by the British to maximize the control of valuable oil fields. From the start, Sunnis were set against Shias and Arabs against Kurds. Given this historical context, a centralized Iraqi state is not a viable option. A loose federation of the three major groupings, Shia, Sunni and Kurds, could provide the basis for an end to the current wave of sectarian violence. Three-sided negotiations would be needed to establish boundaries that result in an equitable distribution of oil fields among the three autonomous zones, with the understanding that the rights of all citizens, no matter their ethnicity or religious preference, would be respected. Although the international community may be able to facilitate such negotiations, ultimately only those living in Iraq can resolve the current impasse. In any case, none of the colonial powers, specifically neither the United States nor Britain, can positively contribute to this process.

    As the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, and the war has become increasingly unpopular, Democratic Party politicians have been calling for a phased, strategic withdrawal of U.S. troops. Recently the Iraqi Study Group has put forward a plan that has gained the support of many Democrats, as well as some Republicans. This would replace U.S. combat troops with Iraqi soldiers. U.S. troops would withdraw to military bases and be used as advisors to Iraqi forces. This is a formula to continue the occupation for the indefinite future. The Socialist Party emphatically rejects the proposals coming from the Iraqi Study Group, and reiterates the call for an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops in Iraq, and a permanent closing of all U.S. bases in the region.

    Unfortunately, the liberal anti-war opposition has become entirely subservient to the Democratic Party. It therefore focuses its protests on Bush's call for more troops, and avoids confronting the implications of the Iraqi Study Group proposals. The Socialist Party will not be deterred by the timidity of the liberal opposition. We will participate in protests against the war on the basis of the immediate withdrawal of all troops, and we will continue to criticize the links between anti-war liberals and the Democratic Party.

    The United States is occupying Iraq, in part, to further its goal of dominating the entire Middle East. There are already indications that the United States is planning to attack Iran. The primary justification for such a war will be the alleged need to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, in spite of the fact that it will take several years for Iran to reach this goal. The Socialist Party calls for the creation of a nuclear free zone throughout the Middle East. Iranian stockpiling of nuclear weapons will only make the potential for a disastrous confrontation more likely. At the same time, the Israeli decision to build a nuclear arsenal has greatly heightened tensions throughout the region.

    The Socialist Party will oppose the expansion of the war to Iran. Underlying U.S. aggression against Iran is the desire to topple the current regime and to replace it with a more pliable one. Iraq provides us with a model. If the United States can provoke a war, a devastated Iran will be cajoled into ceding control of its oil fields to Exxon. NO BLOOD FOR OIL.

    The occupation of Iraq is directly linked to the increasing militarization of U.S. society. Essential civil liberties are being eroded, as the United States openly engages in torture in furtherance of its 'war on terrorism.' President Bush proposed an increase of 100,000 in the total number of soldiers and Marines, and immediately received the support of the Congressional Democratic leadership. As the military budget balloons, vital social services are reduced. U.S. imperialism threatens all of us.

    The Socialist Party demands a drastic reduction in the size of the armed forces, and an immediate 50% cut in the military budget. We further entirely reject the contention that civil liberties should be forfeited in this period, while calling for the immediate closing of Guantanamo and the termination of the extraordinary rendition program of illegal kidnappings.

    Capitalism causes war. Only democratic socialism can bring peace.

  16. I read the above article I thought it was written by Panama Yellow.

  17. Wrong again, amigo mio.
    I thought it was you, that had a change of heart.

    What with you you linking to the Whining American Thinker piece, the one chastising the FBI and DHS.

    Spreading defeatism, or just trying to inform, knowing the Enemy.

    Ready to discuss Hamdan and all the "local civil wars on terror" the US is fighting, around the World?

    Or are you still working on Mr Lewis scholarly theories?

  18. Sorry about that Terrorsita, I should have mentioned the fine line between qwirky, eccentric hollywood behavior and the holocaust. You might have hit on something though; in Woody Allen's movie the "Sleeper" there is a scene in the future where a trendy party goer is wearing a swastica emblem and a jewish scarf thingy.

    "SlimSlow: Earings made of real ear wax could be the next big thing.

    I thought human skin lampshades, human hair mattresses, and human fat bar soap went out of fashion in 1945."

  19. Possumtater:Ms. T You are the quintessential passive agressive.

    Common signs of passive-aggressive personality disorder:

    1. Ambiguity - Does this trait describe me? Yes and no.

    2. Avoiding responsibility by claiming forgetfulness - Some of my positions may seem contradictory over time, but damned if I can remember what my views were yesterday.

    3. Blaming others - My behavior is a defense mechanism against the people who attack me here.

    4. Chronic lateness and forgetfulness - I'll get back to this one before I fire this post off.

    5. Complaining - Jesus, Tater, why are you singling me out?

    6. Does not express hostility or anger openly - No one can provide any evidence of me so much as raising my cyber voice here.

    7. Fear of authority - I wouldn't be such a brat, but 2164th and Whit are like implacable walls.

    8. Fear of competition - God, I hope Catherine never posts her pictures online, I'd die of inadequacy.

    9. Fear of dependency - It's often too easy to get into a blogging routine, and it takes over your life.

    10. Fear of intimacy - Men are too hairy and they have funny shapes.

    11. Fosters chaos - VOTE ANARCHIST!

    12. Intentional inefficiency - Boy this is one long coffee break.

    13. Making excuses and lying - Not tonight, Tater, there's a disturbance in the Force.

    14. Obstructionism - Forget all that talk about the war on terror. Check out this hawtie!

    15. Procrastination - I have to go back and address point number 4 right now...

    Resentment - All I wanted to do was fit in here at the Bar.

    Resists suggestions from others - So you see, Tater, your characterization of me as a passive-aggressive is completely unfounded.

    Sarcasm - Toast a Towelhead for Tater.

    Sullenness - Chuck it all. Chuck it all to hell.

  20. GAWWLIE, uh, Excuse me fer a second.

  21. After paying all these years on a damn life insurance policy, I've come to think of myself as worth more dead than alive. And I've always wondered why my wife says, once in a while, bob you're a diamond in the rough, with a little gleam in her eye. I'm putting two and two together in a way I hadn't expected. 4-5 carats maybe?

  22. 2164th: you fit in just fine. to a "T"

    Thanks 2164th. I'm working up my blogging skillz to become, possibly, an Alfa level contributor to EB, instead of just a Bravo or Charlie level peon. :-)

  23. A friendly reminder to our valued EB patrons:

    The Elephant Bar banner reads:

    Welcome to The Elephant. Drinks are on the house if you bring your own. Do not kick the dog. Gents please pick up the seat. Smoking permitted. If you do not inhale, please leave. We encourage freewheeling conversation, keep it civil and interesting.

    Thanks-2164th & Whit, proprietors.